Home > Editorial, Media, Politics, Society, Terrorism > Osama Bin Laden: The Brand

Osama Bin Laden: The Brand


The death of Osama bin Laden is less the killing of an individual and more the loss of a brand.  After 9/11, bin Laden the man became a secondary entity; with the “War on Terrorism”, bin Laden became a symbol of hatred and goal of revenge that moved him beyond the human domain and into this arena of abstraction.

After 9/11 his power stemmed less from his active planning and action and more a function of symbol and totem. The bin Laden brand was a powerful one with a global resonance. As with all brands and symbols, though, the clones stemmed from inspiration distort the perception of the inspirational symbol. Harold Bloom’s theory of “Anxiety of Influence” rings true here as the figures that Osama Bin Laden inspired had to do more than their inspiration and, when linked to bin Laden lead to a reassessment of the brand. Bin Laden’s mirrors expanded and gradually distorted the original image by using decapitation and numerous events that killed more innocent figures than “targets”.

By 2010 the power of Bin Laden’s brand was lost. New forms of revolution that used social media and idealism replaced the bin Laden brand of violence and high religion. While Bin Laden’s death is a major victory for the American military and the political machine, its significance will remain only a nostalgic one unless lives are saved. In this arena there are no victories beyond the everyday lives of the populations surrounding these actions. Everything else is mere theater or politics.

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  1. Lisa Merriam
    May 4, 2011 at 12:35 AM

    Not so fast. Some cult of personality brands grow in value after the person in question dies. Wonder if the Osama brand can reach the heights of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe? http://merriamassociates.com/2011/05/osama-bin-laden-brand-lives-and-profits/

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