Does what we buy represent who we are?

This week’s episode of the delightful NPR podcast “Hidden Brain,” “I Buy, Therefore I Am: How Brands Become Part Of Who We Are,” explores how the stories that companies tell about their products impact our lives and intertwine with our identities. In the podcast, host Shankar Vedantam interviews Wharton marketing professor Americus Reed about how branding works, why it works, and why we should pay attention. It is well worth 33 minutes of your time.

What the podcast neglects to do, however, is distinguish among the different sorts of branding, a topic that I’ll…