Friday, March 11, 2005

Branding and Character (and Judaism)

Neil Kleid has a great piece at Scryptic Studios this week on branding as a component of writing; he posits that a successful character is defined by the brand created by his author (I'm ignoring the his/her convention that I find so distracting, so feel free to assume or mis-assume regarding sex as you deem appropriate):
Every character, no matter how small or bit, is an individual brand. Even if you have no plans for that character beyond the story you’re trying to tell, that character must be branded with emotions and motivations that makes the reader CARE. Otherwise said reader will tell your character to fuck off and go look for ducks with Holden Caulfield.
It made me wonder -- are we branded as well? And not by an author, but by God or the religion or culture that we subscribe to?

The Jewish "brand" is a set of traditions and customs, complete with suggested foods (challah, matzoh, latkes), colors (blue and white), visual identity system (six-pointed star, seven-branched menorah, flag of Israel), and brand language (Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, are all acceptable counterparts to a local vernacular). We are branded with this by birth or choice, by parents or society, and then we do what every graphic designer must do at some point in her career: create a sub-brand.

There are the obvious sub-brands: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and so on... and there are less obvious ones: living the life of a rabbi or other professional Jew, taking Tikkun Olam as one's watchword, participating only culturally in Judaism, humanist religious observance, etc.

I think I may need to create a style guide for this... oh wait, we've got it already: Torah.

That's just totally not what I wanted to do with this, but I in retrospect I see why great musings aren't written down in mere minutes; I may delve further into this topic at a later time.

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