Old Man Brand
David Colman proves corporations are people too
It has become increasingly apparent to me of late that in order to continue to grow as a person — spiritually, intellectually, emotionally — I am going to have to let go of the idea of myself as a being of flesh and blood, a writer of words printed on paper. My spirit needs to be free, to soar, unencumbered by labels and chains.
I need to become a brand.
The concept of myself as a writer — a mere professional, a worker bee on some assembly line of meaning — seems so hopelessly dated and un-visionary. No one does just one thing anymore. That’s not going to get you a seat at the TED conference.
Everyone is now snapping his or her contradictory and idiosyncratic selves into line, to show the world one face, one view- point, one sensibility — you know, a brand. Incorporating all my pesky character quirks and petty human failings under the umbrella of a unified brand will free me of the personal “noise” that may be stopping me from achieving my full glory as a visionary with freestanding stores in thirty-nine countries.
Any brand consultant worth his weight in swooshes will tell you that consistency is key. There are many eminent cultural figures whose mighty reputations rest on a simple premise. Jeff Koons and steel balloon-imals, Frank Gehry and steel waves of grain, Thom Browne and steel-gray suits. Damien Hirst and polka dots, Cindy Sherman and costumes, Tim Burton and cemeteries. Some might say that today true genius is being able to do, say and sell the same thing over and over again while still keeping the public in thrall. That’s the first step in creating a brilliant brand.
Now, I do have one thing going for me: I’m consistent. But never having held a public in thrall, I can’t say this is enough. I’ve done the same thing over and over for years, as my detractors will gladly tell you. So, in order to give myself a broader reach, I need to expand.
First of all, the name has to go. But at the same time, I don’t want those people who already know me to be completely confused. So I’m going for something simple, effective and very me: inversion. Colman David. Last names are the coolest first names nowadays — think Madison, Beckett, Rabinowitz. And David has a biblical simplicity that may prompt people to wonder if I am related to Larry. (Distantly.)
Once I’ve got the name paperwork going, I’m thinking of a line of scented candles. It’s the classic way of saying, “Hey, I’ve got a little more to say here.” These will fill a sizable void in the market, since they will be all about the smells — coffee, dust, paper, seltzer, pants — found in my apartment each and every day.
The second thing I’m going to do is direct. A film. I don’t really care what film, as long as it can be described as “hauntingly beautiful” and “rich with the teeming ambi- guities of life” and have lots of oblique hints that someone who is supersmart wrote or at least read the screenplay. Directing credit on a film gives you immediate visionary TED cred.
The third thing I’m going to do is curate. I don’t know what I am going to curate for whom or where, but it’s going to be curated, because come hell or high water, I am going to call myself a curator. Then, I can also refer to my being a candle maker, a director and curator as part of my conceptual art practice, so I am really getting three for the price of two. Hey, it works for James Franco.
The one thing that’s going to take a little work is the brand itself. I don’t want to be saddled with actually having to design and make anything. That sounds like a recipe for disaster that only a customer complaint hotline could handle. I want my brand to just sort of stand for ideas — super intellectual lofty ideas that people can think along with and say things like “wow” about.
In order to avoid the hassle of actually making things, I could just sit down and write the ideas out like lots of other visionaries before me. But that would just make me a writer: back to square one.
So maybe what I will do, as a brand, is merely exist. Just BE. My whole brand will be all about existing and being. “In the moment.” No making, no doing. I can be there for everyone who needs me. Or at least be here, watching TV. And all I need for this to happen is for other people to like the idea and send me like, I don’t know, ten bucks.
That way, when people ask what I am up to these days, I’ll just say, “branding.” You could do the exact same thing too, but then you’d be encroaching on my brand identity. I would hate to have to sue you. But here at Colman David, we stand for nothing, and our lawyers protect it vigilantly. BG