|No Cattle were harmed in|
this blog post.
The other Branding that super cool cad Don Draper (aka Dick Whitman) does for a living. Almost everyone who publishes in skepdom has developed a brand of some sort that consumers of skepticism attach to a person, entity, or group. Some spend more time and effort honing their brand than others.
A strong enough brand can also assist in helping a group or entity through a difficult time, and give cover to individuals within the group. John Lennon noted in the 1970’s that during the 1965-ish period of Beatlemania he was going through a “fat Elvis” period. However, nobody recognized John's down period because the Beatles were larger than any individual problems even though the song HELP! is a cry for actual assistance. I suspect in part that one reason Derek Colanduno has been able to carry on with podcasting during the well known ups and downs of his show and format changes over the history of his show is that “Skepticality” is a potent brand. If Derek had tried the current format without the Skepticality name, I suspect the show would be less popular. The brand I would argue helped to carry things forward.
For my money, the master of branding a skeptical podcast is “Skeptoid's” own Brian Dunning at “Skeptoid.com.” (You can hear him saying that phrase in your head, right?) If you are a skeptic and you don’t know about Skeptoid and its URL, then you need some help. Quickly moving up in branding is Sharon Hill, cornering the market on “Doubt.” She has iDoubtit as her twitter handle, and “Doubtful News” and “Doubtful” websites as well as “Doubtful Views” on the new Skeptical Connections podcast. It’s actually rather brilliant much like Apple has cornered the market on “iWhatever-awesome-product” as soon as a skeptic hears “Doubt” one thinks Sharon Hill, a trusted name in skeptical circles.
Branding can just occur. I am sure when the Skeptics Guide to the Universe began they did not expect “SGU” and “Rogue” to be synonymous with the show. Now even my dog probably knows that SGU is a podcast of some note. Within the show, Dr. Steven Novella is a brand in himself known for his calm, cool, level-headed nerdy reasoning able to take on the likes of Dr. Oz on Oz’s own tv show. Rebecca Watson is a brand unto herself within the SGU and Skepchick. I would venture that Watson’s own brand is larger than the Skepchick organization.
Then there is some branding that I suspect could hurt the delivery of the underlying content. One is “Dumbass” aka “Parrot” of the Dumbass Media Empire of podcasts. While I get the joke that Parrot does not take himself too seriously and “Dumbass” is part of the joke, I do think it is too self-deprecating or too negative a term to get in the way of some excellent material Dumbass delivers.
|When School News Papers|
were made of actual paper
A small aside:
I do very little to promote my own Brand. Sure, The Skeptical Review has morphed into plain old 'SkepReview,' but that just sort of happened. I recently read a discussion online regarding annoying online pseudonyms, and it reminded me on why I picked Nigel St. Whitehall. (at least in part) I didn't want to have a 'handle' like "Festersmess" or "THX1139." I wanted something that looked like a real name, but was off just enough to be memorable. I also wanted it to sound slightly nerdy since my own name, Howard, is pretty nerdy. I thought at the time Nigel fit the bill. I am not sure if I have fully succeeded, but I don't think I failed.
*edited for grammar error*