Friday, 20 August 2010

Day 232, on which John discusses brand power [20.8.10]

Dag to hundrede toogtredive. Okey dokey, Friday. The end of the week (weekends don't count, fool). Only two more weeks to go until I'm dragged, kicking and [silently] screaming, back to school. It's gonna be tougher than ever, more work than ever, and doubtlessly more boring than ever. Then there's the mock exams, then there's the exams, then there's the results, then there's the other exams the year after... let's not think about that.

Now, I was intending on starting this topic by saying 'I don't believe in brand power', but that's wrong. Of course I believe in the power of brands, because brands can have enormous power, and can command the markets like some sort of Poseidon over a commercial sea. Take Apple, for example, with the iPod. That rules the MP3 player market, and because of that domination Apple has become a by-word for quality and innovative technology.

Apple's brand power has made the iPad - a difficult product to place - a massive hit

OK, so that sort of brand power is OK with me. Mainly because I respect Apple and I do truly believe that every product they come out with is better than anything else on the market (ish). They manage their product range very well, and none of their products have stupid names like 'i55000 XIX gt'. So good for them.

However, there is another sort of brand power that I don't like. A sort of brand power that removes all logic and simple better-products-than thinking and replaces it with 'I'll buy that because it's [brand name]'. This is the sort of market domination that spreads like a virus. Say one of your friends gets a new  handbag, and she says 'oh, it's Gucci' or whatever. Her total adoration and fanhood is infectious, and soon enough you'll be saying 'Gucci? Wow, that's good!' for no real reason. I've seen 'designer handbags', and they're mostly shit. Half the appeal is because it has a good logo on it.

And yes, this is a fact of life. That slapping the words 'Gucci' on a handbag will make it sell, and that buying your jeans from Levi's will make them somehow worth the £80 are common beliefs in commercial culture. It may be a fact of life, but it's certainly not something I'd like to be a fact of life.

You won't catch me with designer clothing, bought simply for the logo. It's a deterioration of the market that is based solely on big brands that succeed in becoming bigger and bigger by having expensive prices for their logos. In that way, I prefer the design market. There, you may have big brands (Vitra, or Alessi), but the focus is on the designers. And it isn't on the designers who create chairs with the most bling, or with a Gucci logo on it. It's on the designers who create the best stuff, like Charles and Ray Eames.

So maybe I'm still right when I say 'I don't believe in brand power'. Of course I believe it exists, but I don't think it's right. We'll never be able to remove it, but oh, if we could... the market would be a much better place, and everything would be more to my liking. Then again, if everything was to my liking, we'd all be speaking Danish. I can hope, at least.

~John

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