Quote of Note | Malcolm Gladwell

“I think I have the same feeling toward the word ‘brand’ as I do toward the word ‘Africa.’ ‘Africa’ is an incredibly problematic word for me. It’s a word used with great frequency to describe an intricately complex area made up of people, countries, and cultures that have no more in common than we do with Uzbekistan. But because it’s a convenient word, and a well-known word, and a geographically defined continent, we use that word to sum up and generalize everyone who lives within the continent. In a way, it really is unfair. But we’ve inherited that framework, and I think we’d be better off if we banned the word entirely.

Getting back to ‘brand,’ the word has similar implications. Yes, it’s of much smaller consequence—it’s a trivial example of the same problem. The word gets thrown around so recklessly that I wonder whether we wouldn’t be better off setting it aside. Instead, if we could use more specific words that zero in on what we’re really interested in discussing, it would help the conversation.”

-Author, cultural critic, and New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell, interviewed by Debbie Millman in Brand Thinking, out this month from Allworth Press