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branding cattle

I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the term “branding”. It always smacks to me of exaggeration and deceit. Possibly I’ve been reading too many books like the much vaunted/maligned No Logo by Naomi Klein.

Having just read Steven Kroeter’s interesting article on the history of branding (the word maverick comes from a cattle rancher, who knew?), my mind has whirred round once again to consider the points and purposes of the brand. Everyone knows these days that in the case of certain product groups there is very little discernible difference between one company’s product and the next. A good example of this is bottled water, no matter what people claim it’s still just mineral water, or in the case of Pepsi, plain old tap water. So why then do all these brand-savvy consumers still flock to Evian over the considerably cheaper own-brand waters on the market. Maybe they fins some sort of assurance in a well known name. Money can’t buy brand security like that. Or can it? Evian have sponsored the building of an olympic pool at Brockwell Park in London and just to make sure everyone knows they made sure the word Evian is painted across the bottom of it.

My point being that the pursuit of a successful brand seems, on occasion, to have over taken the desire to create any sort of useful innovation in the product. Look at flipping BP, they (partially successfully) rebranded themselves from a monstrous oil-guzzling petrol company to a concerned and public spirited business. I’ve got more links about this than you can shake a stick at (from my dissertation – I don’t collect them or anything, that’d be weird). But here’s a nice picture of BP’s latest UK billboard campaign. Or is it a subversion found on Earthfirst.com?

bpadvert

bp-investments

Perhaps morally worse than trying to tweak a brand’s image is the endless striving search for ‘cool’. The creation of a cool brand is the absolute top priority of clothing manufacturers and to those who achieve it comes rewards far greater than simply selling clothes. Brands like Converse have become by-words for young, trendy and cool. Converse aren’t selling trainers these days, they’re selling a lifestyle product. If you wear Converse, it immediately elevates you to someone who is fashionable and up-to-date; you are cool. When politicians start wearing your shoes in order to “get down with the kids”, then you know you’ve made it into the country’s conscience and created a symbol that’s as easily recognized and understood as a stick figure on a toilet door, or even the MacDonald’s golden arches. That’s the real power of branding. And to my mind it’s a bit scary.

Thanks for reading. This blog is bought to you in association with Apple and store brand Custard Creams.

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1 Response to “This blog is brought to you in association with…”



  1. 1 The end of graphic design? Probably not. « Hedoesdesign’s Weblog Trackback on September 28, 2009 at 10:05 pm

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