Bernard Allen makes an excellent point in his blog about how branding can lead to extremism. It makes sense - building a brand is about building a consistent perception of difference. A brand is only distinct if it is seen to be unique, special, unlike it's competitors. If there is no such perception of difference, there are no brands; only commodities.
A guy I was once seeing told me that my brand of struggling artist/intellectual homo was everywhere in Cape Town and that I'd need a new differentiator. Self-help books talk about building the Brand Called You for career purposes: to get noticed, to shine. Management papers fret over whether or not to let employees build their personal brands instead of, or parallel to, the corporate brand.
But here's what I'm thinking. Human beings are not brands. They are not focused and clear. They are not consistent. They don't stand for the same things in the hearts and minds of their friends. I have days when I am angry. I have days when I am funny. My interests cover everything from architecture and anthropology to Youtube, gay rights, fine art and Tibetan meditation.
It is great that brands are becoming more human. But I'm quite set against humans coming to join them in the middle ground. Madonna may want to build her brand. But I think there couldn't be anything sadder than a person with only one proposition, one clearly articulated message. If you stand for something, you haven't thought enough about anything. Being open to experience and open to life means constant, directionless change - the antithesis of strong branding.