Adonis Diaries

Archive for February 2nd, 2012

Have you been branded for life? Did you Brand yourself? What “branding” is to you?

When I hear the term “branding”, the first image comes to mind is in movies where slaves and cows are branded with hot iron with a symbol, logo, or initials to be visually recognized as belonging to a particular proprietor.

If a corporation imposes on its employees to exclusively patronize and purchase its “brand” products or services, wouldn’t that constitute a form of “branding slaves”?  For example, when Microsoft implicitly discourage its employees to search Google as its preferred engine, do you think the company is exercising “slave branding” until the salaried person is fired or going to retirement? 

I figured that a good method to defining an explaining “brand” is by developing on a few categories of “brands”, which are not necessarily exclusive. 

Categories of brands:

1. “Belonging brand”: We do belong to a tribe, a religious sect, a restricted community, a gang group…We want the members of our group and those outside the community to discriminate us with our slang, language, customs, dances, ceremonies…through symbols, which are the tribal markings, visual and verbal signs of differentiation. The more global the “economy”, the more pronounced the local markings… This idea is put forth by Wally Olins.

2. “Professional brand”: You wear the white coat and the stethoscope and you are readily accepted to be a physician, regardless of youth, genders, or race…All professional syndicates and professional disciplines tend to “brand their members”.  Have you ever asked a physician or a judge, or an engineer to fetch his diploma, certificate, or university grades…in order to prove his professionalism?

The Red Cross logo project a symbol of vulnerability and thus, it is safe to approaching the vehicle and let it move freely in battle fields…

3. “Addiction brands”: You are in Africa or any remote area and you don’t find a bottle of water or sugar in shops, but invariably, you can buy a soda can or bottle.  The soda liquids are heavily sugary and loaded with addictive additives. You find Coca Cola, Pepsi, orange flavored soda bottles, locally made soda loaded with sugar. The gas in the soda gets you the feeling of emerging from a heavy meal and the sugar is needed for the brain…, but it is not the same as drinking water or eating sugar.  The same goes to all the other addictive products.

The story goes that Pepsi discovered that a person is ready to drink unlimited quantity of soda if available, and Pepsi offered the 2 liters bottles in order to compete with Coca Cola…

4. “Fear and peer-pressure brands”: If you don’t buy this product people will make fun of you, and you will not be considered a normal person. Cosmetics ads use this sense of being an “outlier” in a community to encourage the usage of particular products. For example, fear is associated with workaholic individuals because they feel disconnected with the safety of the community outside the corporation.  Workaholic people are defensively constantly checking the “pleasant mood level” of the boss.

5. “Herd brands”:  “Are you an American? You must own your own home as every successful family…”  All research studies are demonstrated that renting is much cheaper than purchasing a property, but the citizens were pressured to buy homes, even though they knew they could not afford it.  As long as easy credits were extended, people were willing to go with the flow of normalcy…

6. “Story brands”:  Tom Peters said: “A brand is a good story. Period. People are suckers for stories. Dump the word “brand” and use “story” instead.  When I become a story, I am viewed as more human, more real…” For example, oats was grown as cattle and sheep feed, and then Quaker Oats box package made a sensation. Why? If Quakers are offering oats as food for mankind, it means oats is good for you: Quakers are not in the culture of lying to you… 

7. “Cultural brands”: The differences in wine quality, price, and varieties are shrinking. The wine brand is: “From which country or region is the source of the wine products?” The future brands will be cultural because the western civilization failed to take seriously the cultures of the emerging cultures in China, India, Brazil, Latin America…As Grant McGraken stated: “The first condition to crafting a “provocation” in design is to have a thorough knowledge of the culture and the social world in which you mean for your design to effect any structural change…”

The identification phase in any design is fundamentally to respond to this simple question: “What are specifically the cultural meanings you intend to design?”

“The word “Africa” is used as a brand name to mean an intricately complex area made up of people, countries, cultures that have no more in common than we do with Uzbekistan…” (Malcolm Gladwell)

8. “Seductive brands”:  Be as beautiful, as healthy, as seductive as “I am brand”.  Corporations want to attrct customers, “to be loved” as individuals behave to attract others.

Dimensions of brands:

1. Stable reputation like college or hospital ranking, done by peer evaluation and having nothing to do with objective measure of performance.  What’s left, after reputation is taken out, is a small residual…

2. Reliability for using a product or a service:  You have definit expectation when you patronize a brand name and you want this expectation fulfilled. 

The dimension of durability is no longer a serious factor since everyone knows that corporations are explicitly engineering products to fail after a certain periods:  Corporations wants heavy turnover of products to encourage “consumerism”…

Our personality is a function of the collection of objects, ideas…we surround ourself with. For example, psychologist Samuel Goslig rates a person from how the room looks like:  You are judged according to what you display. Another example is (Svpply site, v and not u) that is another facebook-type, where you associate with people who like and purchase particular objects, whic are common to your perception of a life-style…

This the first installment on a series of articles revolving around the topic of “brand” and branding.

Note 1:  This post was inspired by Debbie Millman ”Brand thinking and other Noble Pursuits”. This book is a collection of 22 interviews with known brand designers and entrepreneurs such as: Wally Olins, Grant McCraken, Phil Duncan, Dori Tunstall, Brian Collins, Virginia Postrel, Bruce Duckworth, David Butler, Stanley Hainsworth, Cheryl Swanson, Joe Duggy, Margaret Youngblood, Seth Godin, Dan Formosa, Bill Moggridge, Sean Adams, Daniel Pink, DeeDee Gordon, Karim Rashid, Alex Bogusky, Tom Peters, Malcolm Gladwell

Note 2: Debbie is president of design division at Sterling Brands and president of the AIGA design association

 


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

February 2012
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