Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Best Lesson of Branding was Learned at Burning Man

Ever been to Burning Man? It is crazy. It is an event in the middle of nowhere (a place I call the Devil's Bunghole...no offense Burning Man gods). Every year upwards of 40,000 "Burners" converge on the ancient lakebed and build Black Rock City. For about week, a city--which has a larger population than my hometown--exists and hedonism ensues. The coolest thing about Burning Man is the absolute lack of commerce. Everything (other than ice and coffee) is exchanged via gifting. No commerce, no formal government. Nothing exists in that godforsaken lakebed outside of Black Rock City. But during the period of time Black Rock City exists, it is freaking amazing. I went in 2007 for just four or five days (I honestly cannot remember) to experience the Green Man (the theme for 2007).

So how did I learn about branding in an environment where commerce and commercialism are seriously frowned upon? Well, I contend that you can learn a lot about one thing by studying its opposite. Over the next few weeks I am going to discuss the ways in which Burning Man and Branding (personal and product) are aligned. The hippies at Burning Man are gonna hate this. The suits in the corner office are gonna hate this. Hell, I will probably even hate it. Sometimes the truth is inflammatory (intentional Burning Man pun). I can say truth because it is true to me. I will support my claims with pithy anecdotes and some facts...

The important thing is to start a discussion and introduce a new way of thinking about branding, about oneself, about commerce, about the Devil's Bunghole known as the playa. Here's a taste of what I'll discuss:
While you wait, do me a favor. Think about how you would behave if you were accustomed to living in a capitalistic environment and were suddenly thrown into the Devil's Bunghole. Would you enjoy the freedom or freak out due to the lack of structure?


  1. so, although this is only semi-related to your well crafted post, i thought i'd share a link.

  2. just in case people don't realize the words a link are a hyperlink:


  3. That's a great link. I pity the fool.