MIKO ARTWORKS

Mieko Murao

ART FOR SOCIAL CHANGE

PORTFOLIO

BRANDWASH

Brandwash questions systems built by large corporations; branding, consumerism, capitalism, social stratification, and politics. My experience as a CEO of a design firm and designing products for corporations over a decade have helped various businesses with branding. I loved what I did because I thought what I was doing through branding was adding value to the products and compelling the consumers to consume; it was all splendid. I thought being a designer was my natural vocation and I was fine with accepting my role, as I ‘ployed’ for the businesses.

However, through academic life and observing business practices from a distance, I started questioning.

Is branding really about the product and business’ value? How much of it is snake oil and used to manipulate consumers into paying more? What is the true purpose of businesses and what does it mean to pursue profits? 

These questions spawned many more questions in my mind about our system, philosophical dilemmas about “business” itself, and my own faced dilemmas while running a business. 

The primary reason I moved to the U.S., was to expand my business. But I found myself standing in front of the biggest question I’m faced with today: Why is expanding business better than not?

It’s almost an automatic response to think that expansion is a positive thing for companies, but what we end up having is a cycle that merely plays into a capitalists’ game: Go global, expand the market, exploit the market where it’s possible, and that allows more churning of profits. But most often, it is the powerful corporations and their stock holders that benefits the most. On the other hand, the members of society that belongs to a marginalized group or the indigenous end up being worse off than they started (while corporations will insist that that is not the case). Small companies like mine and consumers like myself are pretty much there to help the already powerful; the purpose of branding is to create more desires to consume. 

I hope Brandwash will raise dialogues about consumerism and create opportunities to think about money and power. It is quite the irony that In order to make these products, I purchased these materials from Amazon and as a result empowered the chain of production ran by the corporations.