My Bat Mitzvah was held on a freezing cold night one February.
The snow was so bad only 13 people actually showed up - a minyan.
I didn't care all that much once I opened my favorite present. A book about paranormal activity: "The Dybbuk & Other Stories."
It was a Jewish book full of stories about the dead and undead, restless haunted souls who came back to inhabit the living, a hundred years ago.
I knew that the stories were true, or had truth and one that disturbed me the most was about the idea of the Golem.
A Golem is like a Frankenstein, human but cooked up by other humans in a lab. It is a robot plus brains, mechanically able but missing the holy part, that G-d created it.
On "American Horror Story" the haunted house has the soul of a mother of one such being. The father ripped the beating heart out from one of their infant daughters to create a son. And he was a demon monster - so frightful and bad that the mother killed him.
Now the mother misses her child, and will plot to take the infant of the new owner of the house.
In any case, the concept of the Golem repulsed me. The Dybbuk I could at least understand, even if the concept was terrifying: the person can't cross over and so comes back and possesses a person. They don't leave unless they are exorcised.
But the Golem seemed evil altogether. Total defiance of G-d.
That was when I was 12 and it is now more than 30 years later. I realize that branding is exactly the act of building a Golem.
The very thing...I have become a maker of Frankensteins.
It sank in and sank. Like a weight, a piece of lead.
The beating heart is the spirit, the soul, the living light of the brand's human creator. It goes into the brand and then the brand - if it is good - takes on a life of its own.
I don't think branding is inherently unethical at all. But it can be deeply evil, I now realize.
The outcome depends on the stewardship. That is why the CEO is also the chief branding officer, or ought to be.
An evil brand is the beating heart with no G-dly input, the animal soul. It is all about greed and superficiality, the worship of all that is artificial. The encouragement of people to worship a false G-d and the belief that humans can displace Him.
A good brand, a great brand, even a holy brand is the synthesis of the highest aspirations of the steward and the team. It is constantly infused with humanity - it gives more back than what went into it.
The holy brand is about profit (fiscal sustainability) because it has to be. But it is about much more, too. It is the act of drawing G-d's presence into the world to make it better.
All opinions my own. Painting (public domain): "Fall Of The Rebel Angels" by Charles Le Brun, via Wikimedia