DO Brands maketh you ???? I’m not brand dead just brand unconscious.

Sorry that makes terrible nonsense! But what doesn’t make any more sense is the fixation almost obsession with brands specially among children and young adults and adults….okay everyone on the brandwagon.

I often hear moms complaining  how their princes and princesses only want stuff that’s branded and somehow only the really  expensive things and how they have no choice but to give in to their demands.

My teenaged daughter,now 18, is fortunately equally brand unconscious and is as happy wearing a tee from Big Bazaar or a roadside vendor as Levis.  So I’m saved any trouble there.

But my son has this gleam and funny twinkle in his eyes whenever he spots an Adidas or Nike. He’s heavily into sports and is somewhat attracted by this brandbizz.

So I’m going to share with you today the secret mantra that I’ve tried to infuse in his young impressionable growing up ears (years?)to make him see some reason.

Not that I have anything against brands or the quality they propose. For goodness sakes no. Then what is this hypocritical hullaballoo that I’m making ?

Well I shall touch upon that in a bit. But first a very engaging session between an ageing mom and her gen next son. ( That’s me and my then ten year old son)

We go shopping to the mall and as usual my ten year old drags me by hand to just ‘see’ the latest stuff in the Nike showroom.

He is eyeing a particular sports tee but he immediately lets go off as he sees that all too evident disapproving look on my face.

We go back home, he sulking.

“ Why can’t we buy that tee? “ he asks from the backseat of the car.

“  You bought such expensive stuff for didi. I know you can afford it for me if you can afford it for her”

I take a deep breath in. I can either shout  and silence him or try some reasoning. I choose the latter.

“ Sure we can afford it . But I want you to ask yourself a simple question.”

He leans forward all ears hoping that if he comes out on tops of this quizzy thingie he just might as well get that elusive tee.

Why do you ‘Need’ and I say NEED not ‘WANT’ to purchase this tee of a highly priced brand ?

“ What’s the difference .. need ..want..it’s the same”

He’s confused.

“ Well if you have to go from Panjim to Porvorim you will NEED a transport. You can drive down in any car. A Swift, or Alto or Honda city will take care of  your need. But you may WANT to travel in a Hummer or Ferrari. “ I explain in his lingo.

“hmmmmm” he acknowledges somewhat and I proceed.

“So why a Nike tee…we could buy three at the same price from elsewhere” I put the ball in his court.

“ They have awesome quality .” I’m amazed at the confident reply. An argument he knows I cannot refute easily.

“ Ok. What if the Nike sports tee you’ve had your eyes glued on was called ‘ Rikku Tees” ? same great material, style and fit. “Will you still buy it then?”

“ Rikku tees” he shriveled his nose in mock disgust and burst out laughing.” “mom where do you come up with such things”

“No, really I want to know” I persisted.

“Of course I wouldn’t.” Pat came the honest reply .

“ See, So what you want and desire is just the perceived value not a real need.  You want the Nike tag so that you can impress others and feel a bit superior.” It sounded too heavy for me let alone for a young child. So I climbed down from the higher philosophical pedestal and tried a different route

“  Look you can of course reason that this branded shirt will last many many years without fading or spoiling etc etc. But you outgrow your clothes practically every next month, so even if we do buy the costly tee it will simply last you for a month plus no cloth in the world can withstand the mud and slush and wear and tear you subject your clothes to in the ground specially during the rains.”

“ No brand of detergent can make those stains go, so after two innings Rikku and the costlier version Nile will all be the same “ I seemed to be winning the argument . There was silence for a while. He was absorbing what I’d just said.

“But mum my friends have such cool stuff and there is this new boy and he has got such awesome things all Nike and Adidas right from his shoes to his sports bottle” again that twinkle.

Ah! Victory was not going to be easy.

“ So do you want to be friends with him?”

“ Of course, I was the captain and took him in my team”

“ Great. But now tell me if he doesn’t perform, doesn’t make runs or misfields consistently will you still have him in your team rather than someone who doesn’t have Nike shoes but can  make runs for instance that not so rich kid from the neighbouring basti?”

“ Think and answer. Who would you choose”

He ponders but for a while. “ Of course the other boy mum. I’m the captain of the team. I’m responsible for its winning. ”

I heave a sigh of relief . A small battle won though still a long way to win the war.

“O.K so ultimately what matters for a sportsman is his talent and performance.?”

“ Of course..that’s such a silly question mom”

“And Tendulkar is Tenkulkar whether in hawai chappals or in the costliest sneakers?”

He makes a face which translated means “ that’s the dumbest thing ever”

And then I recount to him a real life experience taken from the leaves of my life’s adventurous book..

I am talking about a few years back when I was about to launch my books in Goa. The honours were to be done by the most distinguished and one of the humblest and most erudite persons I’ve come across, Shri Bharat Vir Wanchoo the then Governor of Goa.

I had had the delightful honour of being invited over to Rajbhavan for tea with the Governor. Now it so happened as it does in life that I got caught up in something very urgent thought not so important( what could have been more important than the Governor?) but it was something that could not be put off.

And it took a lot longer than I expected. I was in my everyday clothes actually honestly in one of those ‘today is a crazy day’ kind of attire. I’d ironed and kept my favourite suit ready, thought of taking a nice head bath. But alas it was not meant to be.

I didn’t want to be late for my meeting at Rajbhavan so I simply went ahead  in my “worst day scenario” look, not stopping over at my home as there was little time.

And yes the Governor met me and we discussed my writing among other things and I was completely mesmerized by the whole experience which is something that merits an article on its own.

But the point I’m trying to make here (as I also pointed out to my son,) is that the esteemed Governor still did the honours  and unveiled the books despite me not wearing any designer apparels or a Gucci purse (which I do not own as it is.) that fateful day.

Please do not doubt my intentions. Not for a second am I encouraging shabbiness , one must absolutely look good and presentable at all times ,but something important that I learnt that day was that one’s intrinsic worth, my merit lay in my writing and not merely in what I wore or how I looked. I could have looked a diva or a simpleton but what got me the recognition was my talent. And that alone. And that is really empowering and liberating.

Of course buy brands, for they assure quality and durability in most cases but not as clutches to enhance self-esteem or to announce and assert your ‘amour-propre’.

So I tell my children .

BE YOUR OWN BRAND”

I implore you to do the same .

Let people know you as a good sportsman or a good writer or a good human being or a good academician or dancer instead of a boy who has an Audi or a girl who only shops at ‘ the emporio’ and has an enviable collection of sparkling diamonds.

Imagine a woman who gets noticed for her Gucci purse and someone robs her off it …what’s left of her worth then?

The tides of time never remain the same, if god forbid all your fancy cars and all the swanky clothes are taken away what  remains of your identity then?

So work upon yourself, your strengths and talents, on collecting well wishers and goodwill, create your own brand that can withstand the tests of even the harshest of times.

Let Nike and Adidas use your worth to define themselves  rather than you depending on them to define you.

“ You are a Brand unto yourself. Cultivate. Nurture. Flourish.”

Note:Amour-propre (French, “self-love”) is a concept in the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau that esteem depends upon the opinion of others. Rousseau contrasts it with amour de soi, which also means “self-love”, but which does not involve seeing oneself as others see one. According to Rousseau, amour de soi is more primitive and is compatible with wholeness and happiness, while amour-propre is an unnatural form of self-love that arose only with the appearance of society and individuals’ consequent ability to compare themselves with one another. Rousseau thought that amour-propre was subject to corruption, thereby causing vice and misery.[1] ( source- Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

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