I'm back!! What's the deep state brand voice?

There's a 'brand voice' content boom. The deep state's ambiguousness makes it tough to define. Together we'll do a brand voice exercise to help bring some clarity.

Shapelessness Sells

John Light, managing editor of Talking Points Memo, defines the deep state nicely. The deep state is used...

“...to describe any network of entrenched government officials who function independently from elected politicians and work toward their own ends.”

Bear in mind the theory of a deep state in the U.S. has never had any merit. Despite its fictional nature, it manages to churn out real products: confusion, mistrust, and loss of faith in institutions—to name a few.

As it’s fictional, the deep state can be blamed for whatever fits the accuser’s desired narrative. Against gun control? The deep state hired crisis actors at the Sandy Hook shootings to spur anti-gun rhetoric. Upset there’s no coronavirus vaccine? Shadow actors at the FDA are behind it. Intuitive, right?

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Pictured: Sinister little shits.

It’s the lack of a reason-driven boundary that makes the deep state so effective. It employs the same logical fluidity of a person who’s in favor of limiting access to abortions because everyone has a god-given right to life, but also neglects that same divine right as they support sending troops off to fight ill-defined wars. Fiction, like water, can fill any empty space you’d like.  

Like religion, if you’re a non-believer and want to offer a counter argument, you’re shit out of luck for two main reasons. One, because the premise’s only boundaries are the imagination of its user; god can stand alongside logically opposed views because god is whatever fits the believer’s narrative. Two, because fiction moves at the speed of the imagination. Facts require time—either to come true or to be proven.

The Brand Voice Boom

Enter the phrase ‘brand voice’ into Google and you’ll get 1,420,000,000 results. The internet is rife with content about how a distinct brand voice can help a business. It’s possible the glut of content has something to do with the rise of the gig economy. According to research from Morgan Stanley:

“Freelancers represent 35% of the total U.S. working population and could represent more than half of the country’s workforce by 2027.”

With Covid rendering many out of work, it’s unlikely this trend will slow. 

As the freelance economy grows, competition gets ever tighter. Generally bereft of product/service differentiators, gig-economy participants differentiate on the basis of content and marketing—their brands. The more participants, the greater demand there is for instruction on how to develop a brand voice to stand out.

Ambiguity Activity

Earlier, I made a small list of the deep state’s products: confusion, mistrust, and loss of faith in institutions. With those in mind, I thought it would be fun to utilize a common exercise found in the millions of Google results above to identify the deep state’s brand voice.

Source: Contently

To identify the voice and tone in which the deep state speaks to us, the exercise asks us to imagine the brand as an attendee at a dinner party and then to answer three questions about that attendee.

Question #1: If your brand was someone at a dinner party, who would they be?

Answer: The multi-level marketing zealot hiding their despair behind a chiclet-white smile. This person never struggles to tie the loosest of threads between the most disparate of topics. They’ll manage to relate the Israeli hummus being served with how the financial freedom that comes through selling probiotic toothpaste could benefit diplomatic relations in the Middle East. 

Question #2: What are they most passionate about?

Answer: Brandishing the privilege that comes with having access to hidden knowledge. Just as they tout how selling probiotic toothpaste to their Facebook friends has given them the secret keys to financial freedom, only they possess the knowledge to understand the machinations of the deep state. This privilege also comes with the burden of having to channel their patriotic angst towards the true—hidden—enemy. It’s worn as a badge of honor. 

Question #3: How do they communicate with others?

Answer: Indisputable sound bites: “T-Mobile is building 5G towers because George Soros is going to use it to make us drive Subarus.” Memes with William Barr’s head superimposed on a mongoose's as it hunts a cobra labeled “deep state” posted in the “Patriotic Patriots” Facebook group. Thinking everyone should know what they know, they’ll pull their phone out at the dinner party and blurt a non-sequitur on how the deep state is responsible for their high alimony payments. They’ll mostly be ignored. But, like any conspiracy theory, it only takes one or two people to doubt the validity of alimony hearings, so a couple of the other divorcés’ ears will perk up.

Pictured above: I made this myself!

Question #4: What qualities do they exhibit?

Answer: An aversion to scrutiny. Meet their non-sequitur with a casual “Why’d the deep state focus on your divorce?” (a reasonable follow up!) and you’ll get OJ-white-Bronco evasion. Rather than attempt to establish a logic as to why a cabal of powerful government bureaucrats could nimbly shift from FDA clearances to alimony, they’ll get defensive, saying the very nature of your question puts you in cahoots with the enemy. Fairytales’ grandiosity lets us escape our mundane reality. If someone pokes a hole in that bubble, it’s quite upsetting.

This person also probably likes tucking polo shirts into khakis. 

Pictured: Case in point!

Hopefully this exercise brought clarity to this nebulous subject. By clarifying the deep state’s voice, we gain greater understanding of the absurdity of the products it pushes out and just how we can avoid them.

Next time you’re at a dinner party with poorly dressed divorcé with a flimsy relationship to reality, I hope you’ll remember this exercise.

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Song of the week: This week’s song comes from Lord Loud, the band of close friend, Michael Feld. It’s not just that he’s my friend, it’s actually good! If you’re into feedback, psychedelia, and handsome drummers, you’ll enjoy, “Without you.”

The 'deep state' is real. But are its leaks against Trump justified? | Jack  Goldsmith | Opinion | The Guardian