Kitsch as anti-branding: don’t let your brand yell at me!

By Innerout 16/06/2017

I just visited the Romanian Kitsch Museum, a recently launched respectable institution in the Old City Center of Bucharest. Targeted to expats, but equally entertaining indigenous, the museum is unique in its kind – congrats to the founder whom I happen to know.

What inspired me to write about this visit? The striking parallelism between kitsch and the lack of branding.

A strange feeling that self promotion with no solid background and authentic stake behind leads very much to kitsch.

What lies beneath all exhibits in the museum is the constant yelling for attention. Kitsch is luxuriously pathetic in attention grabbing. In its essence kitsch is the opposite of authenticity (and the opposite of refined taste, but as a secondary consequence). Kitsch is fake, imposture, wannabe, imitation, lacking the slightest hint of self-humor. Kitsch is serious, takes itself seriously and wants popularity at all cost.

So are the vast majority of objects, products, people, services and companies that lack a backbone in their promotional fury. In the absence of an introspective silence of a few minutes, they assault the stage and start pouring.

If companies, people or products do not take time to answer to some hugely basic questions before entering the public space, they are not far from fake and imposture:

  • Who am I, truly?
  • What sets me apart? What’s my offer to you?
  • How can I make a sustainable promise that I will keep?
  • Why do I actually stand in front of you and want a slice of your attention?

Why do 80% of new launches fail? Because they start by yelling first, I suppose. Visibility, availability, approachability are not necessarily about branding.
Striving and starving for attention are not about branding either.
Kitsch is a hilarious extreme consequence of anti branding. Yet extremely popular, colorful, noisy and seriously set to thrive.


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