Are we so self-obsessed that even our funeral is personal branding?

Are we so self-obsessed that even our funeral is personal branding?

Two weeks ago, Dutch blogger Ridzert Beetstra wrote a post about a life insurance company that challenged all Dutchmen to “pimp” their funeral. After expressing his amazement, he ended the post by mentioning the song he wanted to hear on his funeral. What followed, were ten comments from people saying which song would be the soundtrack of their lives. I was one of them.

When I posted my request to family and friends, it didn’t seem then weird. But when I later thought about it, telling the world how the tunes during my farewell day will sound struck me as kind of odd. Particularly in the sense that I couldn’t imagine myself sharing something like that a few years ago.

Act normal, then you act crazy enough

The baby boomers and Generation X were raised to be modest people. Like the Dutch saying goes: “act normal, then you act crazy enough”. Sure, most western societies were pretty focused on the individual compared to most Asian cultures, yet self-expression was something that wasn’t considered to be decent. Adolescents formed groups and wore certain clothes or hairstyles to distinguish themselves, but that’s about it.

Every kid a brand

But my generation grew up with Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, and other social networks. Every single soul on the face of the planet could start its own brand by creating a page on one of these services. Choose your pictures, make sure you fill in the right favorite movies and books, collect as many friends as possible: every kid starts his or hers own brand.

Funeral great outlet for personal branding

When I see ten young men telling the world about their funeral song, I can’t help but thinking that we’ve become so focused on personal branding that even our burial or cremation forms a great outlet for it. I also recognize this in the marketing message of Richard Derks, co-founder of (a social network for the deceased):

Who dies in two years and doesn’t have a Tribute on, didn’t have a lot of friends

On L1veon1ine, users can, amongst other things, tag themselves to create a “digital” DNA, which floats in cyberspace forever. Gary Vanyerchuk told the Web 2.0 Expo New York audience that his biggest motivation was his online legacy, so that even his great grand children could see what he has done. Mashable’s Stan Schroeder gives four ways to deal with the Google Afterlife. You can also take the online material offline and publish it on your digital tombstone.


Maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe personal branding gave us an outlet to tell people something that used to be taboo: “yeah, I can finally share which song defines me”. However, I think it’s an interesting discussion. Did the focus on personal branding took away some of our social barriers?

The soundtrack of your life

To end this article, I’ve made a soundtrack of the funeral wishlist as posted on the Dutch blog. It might inspire you when writing your funeral scenario. Don’t forget to share your choice on Facebook.

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

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