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Sunday, February 14, 2021

Presidential Icons

Icons are the pinnacle of branding. It is the arrival of a person or thing as becoming the symbol of whatever it represents. And in the cases of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, they instantly conjure an understanding of the office of the president. They are inexorably tied—the man to lead the creation of the Union, and the man who held it together through the most trying of times for a young nation. 

Washington and Lincoln are symbols of extraordinary resolve, as is any person who is burdened with such leadership. Thus we observe Presidents' Day, although it is really the unofficial name for Washington's Birthday—that actual legal holiday commemorating the birth of our first president. We use the day to not only remember Washington and Lincoln, whose birthdays fall in February but to celebrate all those who've served in the Oval Office. However, this post is devoted strictly to the founder and the preserver of the Republic. 

Therefore, submitted for your approval...

George Washington: Our first president was a man well prepared to lead our nation against the British. If there was one better, he never surfaced. Not only did Washington serve our budding nation with honor—his leadership demonstrated deep conviction for that which he fought.

Abe Lincoln: As commander in chief for the Civil War, he was never a soldier, but he studied hard about military history and tactics while leading a nation through that divisive conflict. And for his duty, he gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Monday, February 1, 2021

A Brand of Love

This chubby little cherub is one of the most ancient of brands, the mischievous little archer that has made an ass of many would-be lovers and given others just the shot in the arse needed to win over a heart. Cupid is his name, which is Latin for passionate desire. Ah, but the Romans don’t have claim over this nekkid troublemaker. Like much of its culture, Rome swiped its mythology from the Greeks—and Cupid is no different. He was known to ancient Hellas as Eros, the god of love. And since Greeks were a particularly randy lot, they portrayed him as a healthy young adult male—sort of a Magic Mike of the classical world. Eros makes his first literary appearance around 700 B.C. His origin story varies but ultimately he was dubbed the son of Aphrodite and Zeus.

Stringing his bow, original by Lysippos.
His job? To quote a US senator, ultimately to “incite an erection”—well, along with all the passion and devotion pursuant to amorous endeavors. However, our little angel can switch to demon in a heartbeat because he liked souring the love potion. You see, while the pierce of his golden arrow inspired love, Cupid also carried led arrows. Those caused the struck victim to be repulsed by whoever pursued them. Apollo suffered this fate when hit by Cupid's golden arrow while the object of his affection, Daphne, was violated by a led one.

Over time, Eros evolved from a hansom human-like specimen to Rome’s Cupid, having wings. The arrow and quiver came into play here. Both the wings and the arrows would stick from then on, although as we passed through the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance, Cupid became a cherub or child-like angel. That’s not to say that Renaissance art doesn’t have a more Romanesque version. It does. But the dominant apparition to emerge by the 18th and 19th centuries is the chubby-cheeked, mischievous baby angel.

Whether Greek, Roman, Renaissance, or post-millennium, Cupid is a brand attribute, a position statement, and brand personality—an icon, really. Love and passion are central themes and define the brand attribute of Cupid. Those are, after all, the brand promises, as well. And nothing is more central to the human condition than love’s fulfillment of the heart and expressed in pleasures of the flesh. Our history is written by love and all that it implies. Indeed, Cupid’s motto dates back to the 1st century BC with the Augustan poet Vergil,

Omnia vincit Amor: et nos cedamus Amori.
Love conquers all, and so let us surrender ourselves to Love.