Monday, June 21, 2004

That Brand Called Jesse James

I don't really enjoy riding motorcycles; I grew up riding mountain bikes and the brakes and gears are in weird and awkward places for how my brain is programmed to react in an emergency.  However, I do enjoy watching people build motorcycles; probably one of my favorite reality shows is American Chopper on Discovery Channel.

Last night, after watching American Chopper, I caught a special called "Motorcycle Mania 3," which featured Jesse James, owner of West Coast Choppers.  Jesse James wasn't really all that much of a household name until a couple of years ago when celebrities really started pushing his motorcycles and he started appearing in various television shows such as Monster Garage.

What was amazing to me in watching Motorcycle Mania, outside of Jesse's obvious skill mechanically (he's awesome with both motorcycles and cars) and in his craftsmanship was how much of a brand he built around himself.  Constantly in the background of the scenes of his shop are people lined up waiting to see him, to get his autograph, to get their picture taken with him.  People are lined up when the gates to his shop open in the morning and are still standing outside the gates when they are closed at night.  Jesse's social calendar is stacked and packed to the point that he almost doesn't have the time to fabricate and build bikes and cars anymore -- the very thing that built his brand gets very little of his time.

The amazing thing is that it does not seem to matter to anyone (except perhaps Jesse) that he's not the one doing the actual fabrication; he's built himself into a brand that transcends the physical products he creates.

What's the brand you?

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