We all have Internet identities, don’t we? All of you who are reading this have one, in one way or another. You have an avatar, or a photo. You have an online bio. You probably have a more-or-less-clever alias (I use “Futureworld” for my blog identity, which isn’t terribly clever, but I’m foolishly fond of it).



So: we are all branding ourselves.



Branding used to be reserved to companies and vendors and businesses, to whom it was important. They had images and slogans. I think of James Joyce’s “Ulysses”:



What is home without Plumtree’s Potted Meat?




And that was written more or less a hundred years ago.



The other day I was walking to the office, and I saw one of those big commercial trucks with the company name painted all over it: ROYAL FLUSH PLUMBING. On three sides of the vehicle there was a big image of a cute bearded guy in a kilt, with a big smile and a wrench over one shoulder.



We stop at the same intersection, at a red light. I glance over at the truck, and the driver. I do a classic triple-take: I look at the driver (who has a cute little beard), and the image on the side of the truck, and again at the driver.



And he grins, and waves at me, and the light turns green, and he drives away.



It’s him! It’s the kilt-and-wrench guy!



He must be used to people reacting the way I did, but he was evidently still very pleased that I’d recognized him. Well, why not? He had his face plastered all over his truck. He likes being recognized.



He knows everything there is to know about branding.



(Postscript: I told the first part of this story to my friend Apollonia. I hadn’t gotten further than a description of the picture of the guy with the kilt, and she said, “Oh, you mean Royal Flush Plumbing.”)



(And then she blushed a little.)



(My goodness!)


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