Five years of an ever increasing amount of 'brand'-based linguistic paraphernalia, and as both a writer and a reader, I'm utterly exhausted by the complete meaningless inanity of it all. And if I sit in one more meeting where some marketing dodo hits me with crap like 'brand architecture', 'brand custodian' and 'brand promise', I'll brand them in original branding style with a hot poker on the rear.
I cannot begin to tell you just how many problems I have with the notion of 'brands' - but I will :-)
My biggest, most fundamental critique of branding as it has become, is that it focuses more on the window-dressing than on the window - more on the image than the reality behind it - more on the paint than the wall - more on warm and fuzzy nonsense in a commercial than on the actual service being provided - more on colouring book bollocks than actual truth. It has become about what you think you should project, instead of who you really are - essentially just a bunch of hot air. Do you think Coco Chanel sat in her first studio and muttered to herself 'I want to be the most progressive fashion brand in the world'? No. She was passionate about creating great fashion; just as Henry Ford was passionate about creating great people's cars, or Enzo Ferrari was about creating fantastic sports automobiles. Brilliant products create great brands. But currently it feels like everyone with three minutes of experience and a day's worth of insight into marketing, thinks differently.
What makes me sad is that what I'm saying is not new. It's not even particularly clever. It's the classic 'emperor has no clothes' fairytale, and I'm completely ashamed for the people of the industry that I've been part of for 13 years that I have to even point this out to them.
What makes me deliriously happy however, is that I know that brand-based thinking is on its way out. And it's my three years in high fashion that tell me so. In the three years that I was part of of the Socrati footwear team, I'd watch as we'd launch a new wave of style and design, which was immediately tried out by our early adopters - those who liked being at the vanguard of fashion. Then, within two seasons, when those styles had been copied and proliferated into department stores - when everyone was wearing them - we'd already moved on to the great fashion of that day, while the rest had caught up with our yesterday. The irony of it all, was that while the fashion craze we'd been part of starting now seemed like it was at its zenith, it was essentially already dying - replaced by where we'd already moved onto. And just like back then I used to find those cheap imitations of our original styles so grotesque, today I find brand discourse - if it's even worth being called a discourse anymore -cheap and tasteless - the plastic leatherette version of what once was a noble ideal of being a name that people could actually trust for good reasons.
It's ok though, cos as I look out at an entire industry still flinging banal brand expressions around like they're meant to mean something; all I can see is that dude from Brakpan who right now thinks that tight jeans, pointy shoes, thick silver chains and a mini-mohican just above his forehead are the new big thing. Shame.
Add a Comment