Back in the day I had another small website dedicated to lifting. Most of the content was about training. When I told one of the my friends from high school about it, he said something like this:
“Aren’t you ashamed that you look so skinny and yet you have a site on training?”
It is true that I was skinny, but at the same time I was not telling people that I have the secret to exceptional muscle growth. I was just writing very basic, generic stuff about lifting in general. Statements like that of my friend show that muscle branding together with the fitness media has been able to create unrealistic expectations how natural people who train actually look.
What is muscle branding?
To understand muscle branding, you first have to understand what branding is in general. Branding is a marketing term describing a product line designed for a specific group of people.
For example, there are clothes from certain brands that are created for different classes of society. Obviously, rich people wear expensive clothes. That’s why similar products are part of a brand made for consumers with higher income. On the other hand, there are everyday clothes designed for the masses. Those are two different brands essentially.
In this world branding is very important and people pay millions to experts to get it right. If you want your products to appeal to a very specific audience, you have to create a marketing campaign that can accomplish that. That’s what virtually every major company is doing.
One of the worst things that could happen to a brand is hijacking. Hijacking is accomplished by changing people’s perception of the brand. Let’s say that we have a car company imaking vehicles for people who are at least part of the upper middle class. The cars are of good quality and therefore have decent price tag as well. Imagine that somehow, someway bad ninjas have decided to use the same vehicle for violent attacks. That brand is going to be destroyed because people wouldn’t want to be associated with bad assassins.
The same is true for muscle branding. The industry has created a universal look how people who train are supposed to look like. When you don’t cover the criteria, you are not allowed to be part of the product line.
The muscle industry does not profit from true naturals representing their products because less people would be interested in looking about the same way they do now. Your brand will always be more successful when you are selling false hopes and high dreams. Normal doesn’t sell well and never will.
The whole “do you even lift” movement is actually a side effect of muscle branding. Unless you have big arms and chest, you don’t lift in the eyes of society. You can be exceptionally strong for your size, but when people have no visual feedback we have harder time accepting things. You either look like you are part of something or you simply aren’t. It’s not what you can do, but how you look.
If you think about it, the different training programs are also brands. For example, on one hand we have the aforementioned fitness magazine look, but we also have things like the skinny fat/just did Starting Strength look, the P90X/skinny abs look…etc. That’s also muscle branding and classification of training people in different camps. Which one is the best? Neither. The minute you subscribe 100% to any ideology, you become a slave and a product.