Friday, April 30, 2010

Our Branded World

Though most of us don’t think about it much, we all inherently know how powerful brands are in Western culture. A case in point is the “branded ABC’s” (shown below). At a glance, I can readily identify 25 out of the 26 brand-associated “letters.” Can you guess them all?

What is a brand really? In most cases, it not only represents certain qualities of a particular product (or line of products), if effectively infused in the public consciousness, it also represents certain affinities and aspirations of those who buy and use the product.

Whether we recognize it or not, even the less consumer-oriented among us have brand loyalties – in cars, gasoline, clothing, toiletries, laundry detergent, sports equipment, etc. Think about what brands you like … and why? How much of it has to do with pervasive and effective advertising vs. genuine utility and your satisfaction with the product(s). How much of it is habit without any real rationale? To what degree is it simply a matter of convenience?

Although I’d have to say my brand allegiance is tenuous in most cases, a few of my favorites that come readily to mind are: Apple, C.F. Martin, Dalwhinnie, Ecco, Ipswich Beer, Guinness Stout, Old Spice, Skagen, Scotch Tape, Starbucks, Staples, Tom’s of Maine, Volkswagen. There are a few other brands that I would’ve included on this list, but deterioration in product quality over time eventually led to their falling out of favor. Brand allegiance, after all, only goes so far.

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