Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!
When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
— William Blake
— david mccullough jr., an english teacher at wellesley high school in massachusetts
so i’m still getting a hang of this blog thing and managing my time well enough to post consistently. working out the kinks people, bare with me.
yesterday, i was going about my normal nightly routine - went to the gym then drove to trader joe’s to do my grocery shopping for the week. every time i go to trader joe’s i revel in how much i love that place. yesterday in particular the cashier and i got into a conversation about the ‘regulars’. the cashier mentioned this homeless man, who i remember vividly from going to school nearby, who comes into trader joe’s almost everyday. apparently he is actually not homeless at all, but a painter who has a lavish home in the valley but never goes there because he believes the valley is trying to kill him. so, instead he roams around westwood and spends, apparently, quite a bit of time in trader joe’s. it reminded me of that experiment with Joshua Bell, the famous violin player, who played in the subway and pretty much no one noticed and everyone treated him like a poor street performer. I had seen this homeless man almost every time i visited westwood in the past 7 years and never really knew his story. it made me feel a little guilty, i’m not going to lie. However, i digress, the fact that i had this conversation with the cashier was yet another confirmation of how much i love trader joe’s.
a few weeks back one of my bosses posed this question to me about what brands did i feel like defined my identity, and so much so that i would feel offended if someone said something bad about the brand. after a lot of thought i finally said trader joe’s. then out of curiosity i went around the office asking other people the same question. remarkably a few other people ALSO said trader joe’s! Some people said Apple and there was some mention of car brands (BMW, Mercedes-Benz).
it got me thinking though, the reason that trader joe’s actually makes me feel like it is part of my IDENTITY is because it is the perfect intersection of exclusivity and community. because for something to make me feel like it really defines me i want it to both be DIFFERENTIATING and have enough of a following where by associating with it i feel part of a certain GROUP. and as Apple becomes more and more mainstream and more and more people have iPhones and MacBooks the less i feel like i am part of an exclusive community.
but in general it got me thinking about brands and identity and how close we really feel to brands and what that says about us, and if we latch on to them almost as a way of advertising certain shared characteristics to the rest of society. i’d be interested to hear about what brands other people felt defined their identity? hmm…
UPDATE: here is an article i saw that is related to this topic, very interesting. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/16-brands-that-have-fanatical-cult-followings.html?page=1