Thursday, October 12, 2006

Branding the brands

Profiles like the one generated by this site (www.publicons.de) circulate a lot recently, which keeps amusing me, as most of the people who publish their own profiles tend to have an explicitly negative attitude towards brands, branding, advertisement and consumership in general.

I don't share this attitude as I prefer not to grant an archenemy status to the symptom instead of the cause, but to keep it for the egoism and lack of moderation characteristic of the human kind in general.

So I went through the options suggested by this site. Only to find out that the profile would be quite unsatisfactory - and not because brands could not reflect truly my complicated and unique personality, blame the brands and the consumer society, but because important brands were missing.

This finding made me stop as I walked the street (I was thinking about it during lunch), because it was so logical. I actually started by putting myself, my "real" personality in the centre, and then trying to find the suitable brands - and I bet this is exactly the thing most people do (did I mention egoism a few lines above?)

Therefore the uneasiness of many who think we have started to become the things we possess should be comforted. It is just the opposite - it is not us being branded; it is us imposing our personalities onto the brands.

Let me illustrate. I have never thought of M. as of a person who uses the Opera browser. Least of all I think he is a cool person because he does. Just the opposite - I think of Opera as of the browser, which M., being the cool person he is, uses. Furthermore, I ask myself, why does he actually use Opera? I could think of two reasons - because he is a practical person and because, being the cool and practical person he probably thinks of himself he is, this is exactly the browser that fits his personality. And it is always the "he" and his "real" personality behind, in the centre.

As a funny detail - I even tend to think of Firefox as of the browser that has the name of my friend Firefox, although I do realize on second thought it is not quite exactly like this.

Maybe, you will object, this is valid only when applied to more or less out-of-the-mainstream brands. How could you brand, impose your personality on the IE or Coca Cola being used/consumed by so many people? Actually you could. Using IE it is generally not consired as being cool, so doing it AND declaring it is quite a strong position, which you would remember of someone. I know a person who does exactly this - I am proud of using IE, this person says, because I do like it and so many people do not use it just because it is not cool, which annoys me.

There is also another story. It was told me by a person whom I did not like so much and I actually do not see anymore because he was related to my old job. The story - which by the way I am completely sure he made up or at least exaggerated a lot - was about a friend of his. This friend, former military or secret service or whatever person, daily drinked 2 litres of Coca Cola while doing his daily 1200 push-ups. Since then Coca Cola is for me that 1200-push-ups story man.

And maybe, you will object, it is question of scale. In mass communication there are no personalities - there are messages, targeted to as many people as possibly could fit in the target group. Quite true, but not quite relevant. The message may be addressed to a wide public but is actually being received by individuals, who always impose their own apprehension on the messages as some post-transmition noise. They associate. And this limits considerably the power of mass communication.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed.

Except for the last part, where I have an objection.
Imposing apprehension and adding associations is not a limitation; it's possibility for great expansion of mass communication. It is exactly what gives a message the opportunity to move people: internalising it, relating to it, is based exactly on associations and apprehension. It's what creates emotions; ultimately, it's what makes us care for a brand.

Of course, brands are all about personality. Consumer brands boast having certain traits of character which are ultimately proper to humans. Then humans like or dislike brands based on whether or not they find similarity between the brand and themselves.

In a way, brands pretend being humans.

7:36 pm  
Blogger frostie said...

Objection acknowledged. Let us agree it cuts both ways, deal?

8:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a way, brands pretend being humans.

Ooh, I like that. Brands are just memes, you know, so they behave a lot like evolving organisms, including people.

Anyway, here's another way to define yourself with brands:

http://metro.b3co.com/

M.

11:24 am  

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