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What do brands mean to you?

I get my coffee at a local deli. I happen to think that their coffee is better than Starbucks and it is a fraction of the price. How is this possible? It is because the deli doesn’t have a marketing department or r+d, or finance departments. There are no million dollar executives and no pretentious art furniture. No uniforms, posters, music, just food and coffee, and its self-serve. Starbucks does an amazing job with their brand and people line up out the door to pluck down their money for a cup even if it’s paying for all of those expenses. Working at a brand consultancy, I feel somewhat immune to badge brands. If I want coffee, I don’t need an experience. I want a cell phone not a lifestyle.

I know why most people get coffee at Starbucks but why do you? Do YOU believe in brands? Do you wear designer jeans? Is the denim better? Why do you buy Calvin Klein socks if no one sees them? Isn’t everything a commodity anyway?

But, if I had a Porsche, I would drive it around EVERYWHERE.

Thanks to DAVID W for the topic, and this point of view.

(Truth be told, I absolutely prefer Starbucks)

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PUBLISHED ON Jul.25.2003 BY debbie millman
debbie millman’s comment is:

Hey everybody! This is Dave W's first discussion recommendation, and I love it. Very close to my heart. Armin asked me to post it in his absence (we miss you, Armin).

On Jul.25.2003 at 07:27 AM
Mike’s comment is:

Well, I am basically the "anti-brand". I would never wear any Nike clothing. OK, I admit I wore a sweatshirt that my brother gave me for Christmas but I hated that logo on there. I was playing a gig the other night and a trumpet player said he liked my tone and was I playing on a Selmer Mk VI [the holy grail of saxophones] and I took GREAT PRIDE in saying "No, it's a Sears." I drive a Geo metro with 210,000 miles and have never had 1 minute of trouble with it.I have no problem with brands if they are truly superior but I learned that my Walmart jeans [can't remember the brand] lasted WAY longer than Levis and were more comfortable. It's like Sky vodka...buy the bottle, they throw in the booze for free.Too often, the really hyped stuff just don't have the goods to back it up.

On Jul.25.2003 at 08:30 AM
Sam’s comment is:

What's the question here? If it's 'Why do I buy certain brands (and not others)?' I guess my first answer is, It's nigh on impossible not to buy a brand. Michael's comment above, which I'm personally sympathetic to, also proves my point: you got to drive something and every car on earth has a logo on it. If I don't buy Levis or Lee or Guess or Diesel (or whatever the hell the kids are rocking these days), what are my options: not wearing pants? If I want to wear sneakers, show me a non-branded sneaker. Can't be done. (And it don't need a logo on it to be obviously a Stan Smith or a Chuck Taylor low-top.)

My question would be, (1) what are examples of brands that are actually different within their market (ie, Starbucks and the local deli both sell coffee but are different) and is it the difference or the "brand equity" (status) that matters, and (2) what are the products where the branding is really the main differentiator (Dockers-Gap-Old Navy all strike me as basically the same material and style) and why do you buy one and not the other?

On Jul.25.2003 at 08:59 AM
brook’s comment is:

i also kind of recoil from brands. i wouldn't ever wear a logo (on purpose). i really really hate eating at chain restaurants or bars. i prefer local beer and avoid the big breweries. even when i do support a large brand, it pretty much needs to be an ethical and responsible company, and local if at all possible. i love target because of how much they give to charity (and how huge their design department is!) I consciously want to support local and small business. I like things that are unique as well. I do get sucked into some brands though...i drive a volkswagen, own an apple, etc. But maybe that's because it's pretty much impossible for there to be a local/small business alternative.

On Jul.25.2003 at 09:04 AM
steve c’s comment is:

I believe in the concept of brands. I believe in the human condition of 'belong.' That's what it's ALL about, for better or for worse, like it or not you cannot fight millions of years of growth, evolution and instinct. Branding feeds into the same basic need. You can wander the halls of elementary school and see how that graphic tee emblazoned with rugrats can draw attention and break the ice and maybe form a friendship. The high school years...would be MORE devestating were it not for the R.E.M. t-shirt that helped signal to the other fans...that maybe you are like them, maybe. Brands are not instant 'cool' or instant 'hip' or even instant 'smart' - it's just about association and little societal intervention - a leg up. A helping hand. Humans identify themselves with the things they consume / use - always have always will. My biggest beef with the no-logo set is there extreme disrespect one automatically gets for being brand loyal, yet they forget. Whether you seek status by liking the off-brand, or proud of using the non-brand (like a sears sax.) are you really all that different from the guy wearing the swoosh on his sleeve? Whether we like the obscure screamo band from Iceland or Justin Timberlake, we are all hoping someone will just ask us...who DO YOU listen to?

On Jul.25.2003 at 09:06 AM
Sam’s comment is:

Speaking of elementary school, a few years ago my roommate was babysitting for some kids in Manhattan and these kids had created their own self-branding system: they carried around boxes of cereal. It was of course very important which cereal you chose to represent yourself. At the same time, there was the idea among these kids that it was just for fun. There weren't lines divided among social groups--Capn Crunchers over here, Waffle-Os over here.

On Jul.25.2003 at 09:11 AM
Kristin’s comment is:

I work at a brand-ed in red company that speaks brand all the time and that policy has benefited the corp tremendously. It obviously works.

As for personal choices, it varies widely by the product. For book-buying, I always support local independent booksellers. I've seen the effect of B&N, Amazon and Borders on small press publishing and I don't like it. So I'll make whatever extra effort is needed to avoid adding to their coffers.

I don't have that same option in choosing an automobile. And I don't choose to take that option when buying some products (canned soup, popcorn, etc.). I still won't buy a Hormel product because of leftover resentment over the strike in Austin, MN.

When I am made aware of a business practice in a certain industry that bothers me, I make my buying decisions accordingly. But I don't do the research and agonize over each choice.

On Jul.25.2003 at 09:25 AM
Joseph J. Finn’s comment is:

Short and sweet here; I beleive in brands, but only if the product stands up to scrutiny and is worth the money they are charging for it. For instance, Apple and BMW - good, strong brands that have the products to back it up.

On Jul.25.2003 at 09:46 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Brands are fairly far removed from the actual company these days, at least in terms of what the average end-consumer sees.

As far as believing in Brands, I'm not sure what that question is asking. I'm not a very trendy person so I neither buy trendy brands or am hip enough to realize what the anti-trendy (and therfore, trendy) brands are.

On Jul.25.2003 at 09:55 AM
rebecca’s comment is:

With all due respect to you and your great contributions, Debbie, I resent the effort of marketing execs to manipulate me into buying their product. I feel more strongly about brands like Volkswagen than brands like Burger King, though I imagine the success of the Volkswagen approach is not lost on the Burger King people and they choose a different tack because it works for them. It's one thing for people to buy a particular brand of car because it serves their needs better than another brand; it's another thing entirely to buy a car based on needs that have been manufactured by a marketing department.

Shit, now I have "Mr. Blue Sky" stuck in my head.

On Jul.25.2003 at 10:09 AM
Patrick’s comment is:

I try to decide my purchases based on the product itself, more than the brand. But that only really holds for brands where there is a distinguishible difference in product, like buying Apple computers over Dell. Same would hold for cars, if I had a car.

But I hate wearing logos on clothing because I feel like I'm paying to advertise for them. Steve does have a point, though, that choosing use the non-brand says as much about you as having a swoosh on your sleeve. But there's nothing wrong with that. It just comes down to what you want to identify with.

Where it gets tricky is in products that have little discernable difference. Personally, I can't taste the difference in Absolut and Skyy. (I buy Absolut because they used to be a client.) I am not particularly fond of Starbucks coffee, and less so of the company, but sometimes they're the most "conveniently located" (read: impossible to not walk past) and I'll go there. But most of the populus cannot tell the difference in coffees, or in vodkas. It's even worse in the cigarette category. Which is why these categories are where huge amounts of money are spent to create "differentiating factors".

On Jul.25.2003 at 10:12 AM
David W’s comment is:

Thanks Debbie for the post. I should probably be discouraged that its my first discussion and no one understands the questions.

Yes, virtually everything is branded so my question is not as much brand vs. no-brand but premium or badge brand vs. normal brand. For example, you could buy 5 pairs of Old Navy jeans for the price of one from D&G. If both pairs are made in a factory not owned by that brand, aren't you just buying a pair of jeans with a tag on it.

I see what goes into creating brands and how much of it is actually "creating". I just don't buy into to certain things like most lifestyle brands, but I know that most consumers do. I wonder if anyone else feels the same way.

(Rebecca does)

Patrick, great points. If these products are commodities, and we as designers or brand consultants make them appear differentiated, even when they are not, why do we still buy into it?

On Jul.25.2003 at 10:28 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

I resent the effort of marketing execs to manipulate me into buying their product

But that's what marketing and a good part of graphic design is for, is it not? ;o)

I feel more strongly about brands like Volkswagen than brands like Burger King

Why? I'd actually say VW's adds are more 'lifestyle sells' than BK, we pretty much just says, "hey, we got a good burger."

Patrick, great points. If these products are commodities, and we as designers or brand consultants make them appear differentiated, even when they are not, why do we still buy into it?

Because we're consumer whores. We love capitalism!

On Jul.25.2003 at 10:39 AM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Let’s face it: Dave and I and the other "brand consultants" out there (and in here) are the ones that have put logos on bananas. On oranges. On basketballs. On our backsides. And now where do we want to put logos? In our hearts.

But I think the truth is that people like brands. They help define us and signal our affiliations and beliefs. Even being anti-brand does that, and I think that is a good thing. D& G or Old Navy? Each can be a brand that people use to define themselves at that moment, interesting that many people in our culture right now would consider buying both. There is an interesting trend going on now that indicates that people are just as willing to buy mass and badge brands, wear them both and mix it all up.

But...is it natural that (some) people feel better about themselves wearing one type of jeans or sneakers over another? I don't think it is, really, but if that is what it takes for someone to feel good about themselves, or to prevent them from being the last person to be chosen in a high school gym game, well, so be it. Where it gets tricky is when it turns ugly and violent and cruel: Urban kids shooting each other over a pair of Levi's (true) or a group of kids defining themselves by what they wear or don't wear..."abercrombie crew" (not such a big deal) or "trenchcoat mafia" (very big deal).

I have been reading Marty Neumeier's (yes, that Marty--from Emigre) book The Brand Gap, and this is a bit of what he has to say about it: "Brands create intimate worlds inhabitants can understand, and where they can be somebody and feel as if they belong. Brands create tribes. In 2003, people can join any number of tribes in any number of ways and feel part of something bigger than who we are individually. We can belong to the Callaway club when we play golf, the VW tribe when we drive to work, the Williams Sonoma tribe when we cook a meal." He goes on to say this: “As a weekend athlete, my two nagging doubts are that I might be congenitally lazy, and that I might have little actual ability. I am not really worried about my shoes. But when the Nike folks say, “Just do it,” they’re peering into my soul. I begin to feel that, if they understand me that well, their shoes are probably pretty good. I am then willing to join the tribe of Nike.”

I think where us brand consultants have to be very, very careful is to insure that what we do is as non-manipulative as possible. Which is tough. But we are the only ones that can insure that this work is done with integrity. I also think that brands can be an effective weapon for holding corporations to account. This should help us make decisions about buying or working on such brands...if we want them to.

On Jul.25.2003 at 10:39 AM
rebecca’s comment is:

I also think that brands can be an effective weapon for holding corporations to account.

That is really interesting! Can you expand on that?

Another angle on the question: I heard a radio interview on Independence Day that featured this woman talking about how free Americans are: free to buy this, wear that, drive such and such car. She didn't say "free to walk down the street without being harrassed, free to raise your kids how you want," etc.You see where I'm going with this. It seems like every meaningful act has become a consumer act, or that somehow we only consciously impart meaning to consumer acts. I can't quite figure it out, but it seems huge and insidious.

On Jul.25.2003 at 10:53 AM
graham’s comment is:

i wonder how people feel 'manipulated' by brands? why does it bother them? the choice to buy or not to buy is just that-a choice. is it to do with the implicit (or otherwise) support of the working practices and ethical stances of a company that retains in wearing or driving or eating a marque? is there a sense of elitism, of 'knowing better' in the rejection of one companies goods over another? because if you're not growing your own food and manufacturing your own energy (etc.) then brands are in your life.

errr . . . as i wrote this david w posted and i realise i'm floating off-topic and into an abstract stratosphere that feels a bit like the exploding plastic inevitable.

so-vis a vis your question; quality and grooviness and things that make me go wooo. i like those kinds of things: denim is a good example. when the guys who founded evis in japan bought the old levis looms they resurrected something of quality and purpose (practicality) although their version of it was just slightly more expensive than those old 49ers would have been prepared to pay i'm sure. nonetheless, the explosion of denim brands that evis precipitated has almost exclusively been about quality and love. that's the kind of brand i like. i've never owned a car.

although-the 'why do we buy into them' question? i've probably quoted this before (from lawrence of arabia)-it's not about whether it hurts or not; it's whether you mind that it hurts.

On Jul.25.2003 at 10:55 AM
Patrick’s comment is:

If these products are commodities, and we as designers or brand consultants make them appear differentiated, even when they are not, why do we still buy into it?

Sometimes to support the good work of our peers. I know I've seen a great ad/product/package/whatever and thought "the company behind this hired a good firm to do this. I'm supporting good design in buying this product." Maybe it's self-justification, but I still hope other companies will take notice and put thought into their brands too.

On Jul.25.2003 at 10:55 AM
graham’s comment is:

freedom . . . is freedom about the choices you make? or does it exist within unconditioned minds? what does that mean?

On Jul.25.2003 at 10:59 AM
damien’s comment is:

For me - Brands are about the way an organization behaves. In business, in making its products and the way it markets them. Then how that product or service works for me, fulfils its promise and the company that sold it to me supports it. These days it is becoming easier to find out that Volkswagens and Audis are made in the same factory together, or Pottery Barn products are made by vendors abroad that may also make their competitors products. So the additional knowledge adds to our perception of that brand.

I used to rate amazon.com as a great online brand, having had years worth of successful purchasing experiences with them. Then I had one extremely bad one - and now I won't use them, recommend them or consider them to have a meaningful brand to me.

For me, if I am buying a product and have to make a choice, then a branded product can always help me make my decision. Whether it speaks to my lifestyle, my needs or simply I like the typesetting of the packaging or something stupid like that. Additionally, if I know something positive about the brand - then I might also consider it, but ultimately, the product has to do what I need it to do.

There's a funny quote - which I can't remember correctly or where I saw it (probably Neumeier's book) about when someone speaks to themselves, its considered insanity - but when a company speaks to itself, its called marketing.

And for me again- Marty's book was largely crap and a huge disappointment considering his previous contributions.

On Jul.25.2003 at 11:01 AM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Rebecca, this is how I think that brands can be an effective weapon for holding corporations to account: since brands and their corporate parents are more entwined than ever—both in the public perception and commercial reality—it follows that consumers can increasingly influence the behavior of companies. Arrogance, greed and hypocrisy are often punished now. (Except for Enron, that is another discussion entirely, and that is about oil) Popular outrage forced Shell to retreat over the scrapping of its Brent Spar oil platform and its activities in Nigeria. Nike has had to revamp its whole supply chain after being accused of running sweatshops.

I got this from the Economist: Even Coca-Cola has been humbled. Told of a contamination incident in Belgium, its then-boss, Doug Ivester, is said to have dismissed it with the comment: "Where the fuck is Belgium?" A few months later, after a mishandled public-relations exercise that cost Coke sales across Europe, he was fired. Brands are the ultimate accountable institution. Even Martha Stewart's share price has fallen off a cliff when her financial mistakes became public. Consumers (er...People) shouldn't support a brand that they find morally, esthetically or philosophically reprehensible. And they should do the research to assess, if they can.

On Jul.25.2003 at 11:04 AM
benjamin schicker’s comment is:

I like good brands.

By good, I mean brands that are consistent. That is to say, a company puts out a consistent level of product, and that I know what I am getting when I buy it. My last two cars have been Hondas. I believe in their products, have had good experiences with them, and would probably buy them again. Their advertising or the lifestyle that they're trying to sell me probably informs my decision slightly, but it's mostly gravy. I'm more interested in the content of the advertising. The fact that Honda makes a hybrid-engine Civic is very appealing to me on different levels.

I like good brands. By good, I mean brands that appeal to my personal politics [in the case of environmental cars] or business models [in the case of apple, the underdog against microsoft]. I support open source software [in the case of Mozilla and OpenOffice.org, which are both brands of a sort].

I like good brands, by good I mean good advertising. It amuses me, and reinforces whatever beliefs I have about myself that I express [however shallowly] through my alliegence to Apple, Honda, Volkswagon [I used to drive a Rabbit], Banana Republic [the clothes fit & I like the way they look on me. I also buy them on sale, almost exclusively].

I'd say brands are largely unavoidable. In the case of small coffee shop vs. Starbucks, I always go with the small coffee shop, if I can. I buy into the mom & pop brand.


Slightly related: I started reading William Gibson's Pattern Recognition the other day, and the protagonist reminds me of some designers I know. She's a "coolhunter" and is able to intuit the next big thing, whether a logo will "work" so much that she's paid handsomely to do it. However, she personally is allergic to extreme branding/logo overload. She buys only clothes without logos in neutral gray/black. She has a physical reaction to a Tommy Hilfiger display in a store.

I can relate, although I generally don't need medicine afterwards. Generally.

On Jul.25.2003 at 11:04 AM
Mongrel’s comment is:

We (wife & I) drink Starbucks because frankly, it's the best... living in Boulder, we tried to support the local shops (Vic's and others), because of the whole yuppie aura that surrounds Starbucks I guess. You know, like a lot of the anti-elitist elitists that post so frequently ;)

But in the end, the coffee (actually the Chais ad the Mochas) were whipped out too fast and too haphazardly at the "mom & pop" that it was always too watery, or too sickeningly rich, etc. Supporting the locals is nice, but not if the product isn't up to snuff. We stuck with Starbucks NOT because of a brand affiliation, but because it's obvious they know what they're doing. It's VERY good, it's usually consistent, etc. Must have something to do with all that R&D we're paying for...

On Jul.25.2003 at 11:14 AM
rebecca’s comment is:

Thanks Debbie!

On Jul.25.2003 at 11:29 AM
joy olivia’s comment is:

Ben -- I was also thinking of Pattern Recognition too when reading this thread. I didn't want to bring it up, though, since I plugged Gibson's latest already once this summer in another brand related thread. Anyone interested in branding and good readin' will want to pick it up though... even if it's only available in hardback format right now.

On Jul.25.2003 at 11:47 AM
David E.’s comment is:

I actually think Starbucks coffee is kind of bitter, but I have to admit that going into a starbucks IS always an enjoyable experience.

I really dont know how much of that is me buying into the "lifestyle" that they're selling, and how much of it is just the fact that I find it uplifting to be in an environment where everything is designed well.

Tibor Kahlmam argued that spagheti sauce doesn't taste better because the package looks better—that the product's packaging is unimportant. But to me, the package is very much a part of the product. I like packaging and logos. Who doesnt?

At the same time, Im definetely not someone who is "label conscious"—in fact, I've always avoided any article of clothing displaying a logo. But, if I do that too much, I feel like im being too self-conscious about it. Also, Im not one of the handful of people who are opposed to anything that's done on a large scale.

TextI also think that brands can be an effective weapon for holding corporations to account.Text

Many parent companies (like Proctor and Gamble) are smart enough to get around this by never promoting the name of their company. If there's a problem with one brand, it can just vanish—leaving the reputation of all the other brands intact.

On Jul.25.2003 at 11:48 AM
Brent’s comment is:

Brands to me mean acceptance. There's a comfort to some in knowing that when they walk into a McDonald's or Starbucks that they wont have to think too long about the choices they make, the brands make it easy for them to decide. (This is why one of the longest lines at the taste of chicago is at McDonald's, which i I find ridiculous) The freedom to choose is most often sacrificed in the name of convenience and safety. Most people don't want to search out the "new and better" alternative even if it is cheaper.

My neighborhood is filled with wonderful ma and pa stores that I frequent oftern and enjoy. There are also the branded stores as well, are they better? No, they're safe. I think that's how brands get you the worst, they put across an illusion of consistency that most times isn't there. You notice your favorite candy bar getting smaller, or snack food portion change size inexplicably? You question brands less when you've come to accept them.

However, inthe case of Starbucks, it can backfire as well. They put one on the corner of a busy 'hip' intersection of town (you all might know it as the real world chicago's neighborhood) and it was protested and vandalized, but it's still open about two years later.

On Jul.25.2003 at 11:57 AM
Amanda’s comment is:

I just want to say for the record that I think Starbucks coffee tastes horrible, almost like burnt beans.

On Jul.25.2003 at 12:10 PM
Ginger’s comment is:

Hello all. Branding to me seems to be a pretty sharp double edged sword. I agree that you can relate to other people who are wearing, driving, or drinking something you recognize and do yourself on a base level. Yet I also think that it's hugely manipulative and tends to create an us and them scenerio. For instance, the junior high years, if I will. I was from a not-so-well off family, I couldn't get those darn B.U.M. sweatshirts or swoosh shoes. Therefore, me and the two other kids were " branded" no good to hang with.

Granted that's junior high, but I still find that mentality strolling through J. Crew and all those other over priced name brand stores.

I agree that Starbuck's taste burnt! Bleck!

On Jul.25.2003 at 12:34 PM
Adrian’s comment is:

I tend to walk on the line when it comes to brand names. I teeter back and forth, finding the things I like, trying new things out. I don't avoid brand names nor do I buy only the popular brands.

Starbucks - I like it for a few reasons.

1. (Where I used to live) The local coffee houses were full of psuedo-beat poets who stare at you, snicker and say snide remarks; much like the jocks did to them in high-school. They seem to have found their niche and are guarding well.

2. Where I live now there are no coffee shops or I haven't found them yet.

3. It is the best coffee around here.

Clothing - I sway back and forth, I buy a lot of clothes at Marshalls and TJ Maxx, I get the brands I like at low cost. Who cares if one pant leg is shorter than the other, I'm not perfect either. I shop the sales at GAP/Bannana Republic and I live right next to a factory outlet. But I usually stick to the clothes that I find last longer and look the way I want them to look. Gap khakis last one year exactly.

Shoes - All shoes are the same, wear them a few times in the rain and they all end up looking alike. I don't buy the plastic, zipper, kevlar armored basket ball shoes that cost $100. I play b-ball in a league and I went out and bought a pair of $30 all black chuck taylor high tops to prove a point; no matter what shoes I wear, I still suck, and I saved myself $70.

One thing that has been bothering me lately is the retro athletics look, especially the shoe industry. Nike churns out a design they had 15 years ago and charges double what they cost back then. They are the same shoe, no advanced air system nor the bells and whistles that the new shoes have, but they cost just as much.

Groceries - I buy mainly generic except for a few foods I enjoy more with a brand name. Cereal is a kicker, you get the generic for half the price but it is a little less fresh. What do you do? I like my cereal crunchy but I don't want to spend $5 for a box. So I don't eat breakfast. Conflict avoided.

In short, I buy what I like best, whatever is cheap and looks good to me. Anyway, sorry for the rant.

On Jul.25.2003 at 01:10 PM
Steve C.’s comment is:

The interesting thing about starbucks is how organically and how the goal was to PLEASE people. I have the luxury to work for/with the guy who - for all intents and purposes - CREATED the brand, he was the VP of Design at Starbucks. The goal was to sell coffee of course - but also to provide an environment to entertain and fascilitate peoples enjoyment. The attention paid to not being cookie-cutter, the design and research time given to being unlike anyone else is astounding; To create a neighborhood coffee house, all the way down to a brilliantly devised 'kit-of-parts' method of doing so so no two stores look exactly the same. It's admirable, even if they sell $4 cups of coffee. It was innovative if not brilliant, and for that they are harrassed. Whatever, I am not at all defending them, I just gained some insight by chance...

On Jul.25.2003 at 01:20 PM
jesse’s comment is:

I just want to say for the record that I think Starbucks coffee tastes horrible, almost like burnt beans.

I've had good and bad Starbuck's coffee. The good stuff I've made myself from their whole beans purchased at a local grocery store. Although I generally try to avoid big brands and will buy local or independent goods when they're available and of decent quality, sometimes I don't have much choice. It's a matter of geography.

For the longest time, where I used to live, I couldn't find good coffee, and most of the time I couldn't buy whole beans. There were no coffee shops nearby, certainly no Starbuck's around. Then the grocery store started carrying the Starbuck's brand and I started buying it—not because of the brand, but because I knew it was better than any of my other choices.

I admit I've shopped at Wal*Mart. I'm not happy about it, but again, I didn't have much choice in the matter because they were the only local store to carry what I needed at the time. Since Wal*Mart moved into my area several stores I used to shop at have been forced out of business because they couldn't compete.

While I was happy to find Starbuck's in the caffeine aisle one day, I was upset to see Wal*Mart clear away a good corn field and contribute to the decline of some of my favorite shops. And once Wal*Mart had moved in, other brand stores soon followed. Now our small town has four McDonald's, two Burger Kings, and a bunch of other restaurant and non-restaurant chain stores. We have a Sam Goody's, for goodness sakes. This has devastated local independent shops, but the community doesn't seem to care much. Most of the people here are happy to shop at these new stores. They're fine with the product choices available to them, because, I think, they're the products that are recognizable from television and radio and newspaper ads, the products that are shouting the loudest. A quality product shouldn't need to shout, but if it's surrounded by a noisy crowd, it can easily be ignored. Local places can exist next to these brand powerhouses, but they may find a hard time being profitable.

I like having choices. I don't like large brands pushing out local business. As for small brands, well, every product is branded in some way, so buying a brand can't really be avoided (I'm not going to start making my own soap, for example, just to avoid purchasing a brand name). I try to avoid buying clothing with logos attached, although this can be next to impossible if you want to wear jeans or, say, shoes.

On Jul.25.2003 at 01:26 PM
Nathan’s comment is:

i wonder how people feel 'manipulated' by brands? why does it bother them? the choice to buy or not to buy is just that-a choice.

For me, I get sick of two aspects of branding: volume and quality.

Volume: I despise the push to get advertising into every nook and cranny possible. I pine for the days when you could look down on the hose at the fuel pump and not see an ad for candy bars, when you could buy a movie on tape, press play, and be taken right to the movie, and when I could answer the phone and have it be someone I know rather than a marketing droid. I know those days are long gone, but I am hoping for a backlash against this kind of pervasiveness. I'll probably be waiting for a while.

Quality: I don't like being manipulated through deceipt. I am sure many here have backgrounds in psychology and are aware of the tricks that go into advertising. Adjusting the zero-point in a bar graph to exaggerate "scientific" results, dressing an actor as a doctor to influence us to accept his words as fact, using tricks in phrasing and wording to imply a claim they can't actually make in a way that gets through legal.

That said, I am not against the brand as a concept. I do gravitate towards brands that I identify as providing real value and treat me fairly as a consumer. I also admire advertising that shows original thought, is memorable, and doesn't treat me as an idiot. Some of the ads put out by ReThink for example are absolutely hilarious and actually cause me to remember the brand.

On Jul.25.2003 at 01:50 PM
Nathan’s comment is:

Oh, and for the record, I don't drink coffee.

On Jul.25.2003 at 01:51 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

by what they wear or don't wear..."abercrombie crew" (not such a big deal) or "trenchcoat mafia" (very big deal).

Not to get into politics and sociology, but that statement is incredibly oversimplistic and hardly fair.

However, you make an excellent point that, if anything, brands help define cliques and once you are able to get into a clique where keeping up with the Jones' is critical for that group, then you're gold.

These days it is becoming easier to find out that Volkswagens and Audis are made in the same factory together,

If you work at it, yes, you can find that info, but one purpose of brands is also to hide that info better. If half of the stuff at the store said Phillip Morris on the package, they wouldn't sell nearly as much. (I'm assuming, maybe I'm wrong ;o)

In fact, brands are bought and sold so often that it can actually be quite difficult to know which company actually stands behind it. For example, I hear lots of people praising how hip and cool and great Chipotle is. Then I mention that they're owned by McDonalds. Out of curiosity I tried asking Google to find that info for me, and it's hard.

I used to rate amazon.com as a great online brand, having had years worth of successful purchasing experiences with them. Then I had one extremely bad one - and now I won't use them

This is a tough issue for huge corporations that really can't control the brand experience much and the consumer level anymore. Nearly every company I've dealt with has been a huge headache and one point or another. The disconnect between decision makers and the paying consumer is perhaps the weakest link in the overall brand. And once that link is broken, goodby brand equity. Unfortunately, I see marketing used as a band aid more often than simply fixing the issue with the consumer.

Debbie, I really can't agree that brands hold large companies accountable anymore. They're used more as shields between the company and the consumer more often than badges of honor, IMHO. But, of course, that is just MHO.

One last comment...I think 'brand consultancy' can be a dangerous crutch. The best way to build a brand is to make a good product and/or service and add a bit of PR and marketing to get the word out. The rest will take care of itself if attention is focused consistently on the product/service quality and the way the company interacts with the customer.

I recall working on various aspects of a big product branding push thinking the ENTIRE time 'but this product is stupid'. And, sure enough, the product would fail in the market. That doesn't make me any sort of genious, it just means I saw the product instead of the brand.

On Jul.25.2003 at 01:52 PM
Rick G’s comment is:

I just got back from vacation and have a ton of catching up to do, so I just have a quick observation:

I have known exactly two kinds of designers: Those that are obsessed with the brands they choose (Diesel et al, natch) and those obsessed with cutting the alligator OFF their shirts (or making their own clothes or supporting local handmade shops or buying hemp clothes or... er... reading AdBusters).

I think this polarization is a result of our focus on what brands and branding do to a degree that Joe Sixpack can't imagine.

That's my pair of pennies.


On Jul.25.2003 at 02:03 PM
graham’s comment is:

nathan-the 'volume' thing is a very good point. there's a nice stephen baxter short story set in a future of constant and omnipresent messages that appear in peoples clothes, in the air etc.-but there's a little implant one can have that filters these messages. the story is about what happens when the filter gets switched off.

with the 'quality'/manipulation thing, that's what i never understand or hear/see explained in a satisfactory way. i suppose i just don't believe people fall for these things or are as convinced by them as the brands think they are. i really don't think advertising is capable of manipulation in that way-but it's near impossible to prove either way. all i can say is that i don't think people spend much time being that bothered by it-maybe because they're trying to pay their bills, worried about distant wars, wondering what pictures of corpses are doing on the front page of their newspaper, or imagining themselves capable of noble deeds . . . but what do i know.

On Jul.25.2003 at 02:05 PM
benjamin schicker’s comment is:

I had a rather banal insight on this topic over lunch, there was a South Park episode where Tweek's family's coffee shop was going up against the Starbucks equivalent.

Tweek's dad [of Tweek coffee, or whatever] would make these speeches where he talked about how the coffee was like "your favorite sweater on a cold spring morning," all sorts of branding spin. He played the mom&pop card. But when it came down to it, when he tried the pseudo-Starbucks coffee, he liked it better than his own, and welcomed the new store.

The kids followed up with a moral that most corporations started out as mom&pop shops, and they grew because they offered the best products, service, etc. That is to say, they built their brand by delivering.

For the record, I think Starbucks coffee tastes burn. Since some stores also offer wireless access, which is a nice way to get work done in public, I'm torn.


Re: Darrel's comment on parent companies rebranding -- in the case of Phillip Morris -- or actually being owned by other companies. I think some of the information is out there, the internet being a good resource. Or Adbusters [even though I'll file any other comments under that thread].

I think we as industry insiders are more aware of this than the everyday person. Why did Phillip Morris rebrand? Because they want to shed the Phillip Morris brand name. It will probably work on most of the population who don't care about informed choices, or who don't want to seek it out. People who care will try and make the best choices they can.

However, to have no environmental impact, or politcal agenda [sweatshops, Pepsico/Coke/Phillip Morris/insert-parent-co.-here ownership of nearly everything] you'd have to grow your own non-GMO food, skin your own animals to make leather for your shoes, make your own clothes, etc. etc. etc.

If you're of the opinion that every act is a political act [including shopping] then you just have to make the best choices you can.

On Jul.25.2003 at 02:06 PM
damien’s comment is:

Unfortunately, I see marketing used as a band aid more often than simply fixing the issue with the consumer.

Absolutely - and in fact, marketing is being used to build products sometimes from scratch. Its too weak and doesn't pay enough attention to whether there is a viable product there in the first place.

In fact, brands are bought and sold so often that it can actually be quite difficult to know which company actually stands behind it.

I think this is true and it is difficult to know that Trader Joes in in fact not bottling its own bottled water at the source, but they're rebranding Crystal Geyser as theirs. My worry is what happens when Geyser makes a business decision about their water that no longer is meaningful to Trader Joes... How will that play out?

But we do find it is common to hear things about branded organizations that we may not have been exposed to some twenty or fifty years ago.

The best way to build a brand is to make a good product and/or service and add a bit of PR and marketing to get the word out. The rest will take care of itself if attention is focused consistently on the product/service quality and the way the company interacts with the customer.

You have to have a business. The business supports the organization's ability to continue to build and sell that product in the way it plans to. You also have to have a customer, who continues to buy the product or many customers who do. I agree with you, but for the vital ingredient of having a business.

The best way to "build" a brand is to think about it, try it and watch it and change where appropriate. And repeat.

On Jul.25.2003 at 02:08 PM
graham’s comment is:

monologue and dialogue, questions and statements.

some speak to hear their own voice, some speak to hear a response.

brands are like that too.

On Jul.25.2003 at 02:16 PM
damien’s comment is:

Business Week, this week, features their (and Interbrand's) study on the top 100 most valuable Brands - here's the top ten:

1. Coca-Cola

2. Microsoft

3. IBM

4. GE







What - if anything do these mean to you?

On Jul.25.2003 at 02:31 PM
David E.’s comment is:

It was innovative if not brilliant [starbucks], and for that they are harrassed.

i agree with you. Like I said, I really enjoy being in a starbucks because of all the attention to detail. But no matter how well done something is, too much of the same thing on every street corner leads to a point where it all starts to feel generic. Given a choice (and i live in a big city, so there's lots to choose from), I'll always pick a coffee house with an individual, local vibe to it. And I'll always pick a shirt made by a smaller company or designer (bought at a small local store) with something unique about it. Of course we all need basics too, and khackis are khackis.

On Jul.25.2003 at 02:38 PM
graham’s comment is:

1. Coca-Cola

everywhere; i like it (prefer pepsi), my kids like it. good mixer.

2. Microsoft

big scary monstery thing gobbling up everything.

3. IBM

bad logo in a paul rand book, HAL9000

4. GE

don't know


rubbish jingle


seem to be trying to convince me that i should use a phone to do everything but speak to people. they are unsuccessful.


tears, joy-second star on the right and straight on 'til morning.


my friends 10th birthday years ago, mclibel, cheap easy food for many.




not as good as an aston martin.

On Jul.25.2003 at 02:42 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>I happen to think that their coffee is

better than Starbucks and it is a fraction of the price

There is no damn starbucks in the Dominican Republic and I miss it as hell - they do have some killer fried plantains.

Seriously, I was just stuck in Miami Airport on my way here for three hours. Having woken up at 4 am I was dying for somme good coffee and I really only like Starbuck's. There was some shitty coffee at the airport that we had to throw away because it tasted like piss. Then, we went to our gate and found the holy grail - a starbucks!!!! I then knew everything would be alright. I felt at home, all warm and fuzzy inside and that is what the brand promise of starbucks offers and that is what I got.

Sorry for the poor post, I'm totally not focused on this, too much warmth and humidity, but I couldn't resist when I saw this internet cafe!

On Jul.25.2003 at 02:57 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

Sorry Deb, I that to read that three times. I mean David.

How is this possible?

So the deli has better coffee because it doesn't have all that stuff you mentioned like marketing and R&D? Dunno if it applies to coffee but it sure does apply to computer. MS will spend a reported $7 billion on R&D this year but Apple spent only $450 million. Granted MS has more products and has more revenue, but they don't have ONE thing that beat Apple in terms of use, quality, stability, coolness, etc.

Well, I am basically the "anti-brand"

AOL is a pretty big brand, no?

i wouldn't ever wear a logo (on purpose).

Me neither.

I want a Porsche for the quality and design of the car, not because it's a Porsche and I want to flaunt my wealth. Lexus's are expensive but I would never buy a clandestine Toyota. Just like I drink Starbucks because it's good. Show me a place that does it better and for less and I'm there.

It's about quality and design for me. Ease of use as well. That's it. Not the logo and certainly not the lifestyle. I've got my own. It's about what matters to you too. I paid $500 for a 30GB iPod because I have over 40GB's of music and it's the easiest to use with my computer or walking around the city. If someone isn't into music and is happy with their Walkman but spends $500 on comic books because that's what they're into, then so be it. You end up in a clique anyway like Steve put. If it works and is reliable, then use it. But it must live up to it's hype or description. Function over form in most cases.

When I am made aware of a business practice in a certain industry that bothers me, I make my buying decisions accordingly. But I don't do the research and agonize over each choice.

Perfectly stated.

I buy my black socks at Target. Yes it's a big chain but they have style. I hate Walmart on the other hand. They reek "cheap" to me. Clothes at Express and at the local thrift store. I use Tom's of Maine toothpaste but use Amazon. I am into the social companies too, but that is a social choice, not a design choice.

but if that is what it takes for someone to feel good about themselves, or to prevent them from being the last person to be chosen in a high school gym game, well, so be it

That person must live with the fact they value how much thepeople they want to be close to value the brand they are wearing to impress said people. Sad.

On Jul.25.2003 at 03:12 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

That person must live with the fact they value how much the people they want to be close to value the brand they are wearing to impress said people. Sad.

Sad or otherwise, that is *exactly* what a lot of brands are going for. And, quite often, they are succesful at that.

On Jul.25.2003 at 03:20 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

yes, and even sadder that people are judged in this manner. But that is a discussion about our culture, not just brands.

On Jul.25.2003 at 03:22 PM
Todd’s comment is:

I really hate coming in on the tail end of a long thread like this. My mind is racing to respond to so many comments, but in the end I just tire and can't really say anything. A failure of the blog-commenting mechanism, I think.

I think it's interesting that so many of us say we hate brands. I say hate. Designers, the very generators of so many brand elements, have an aversion to branding. Which is only natural, since a brand, to be effective in the mass culture, has to generally approximate the emotional, functional, or symbolic needs or such a large group of people it would intrinsically be hateful to those to are independent thinkers (or imagine themselves to be.)

Branding serves a useful purpose and I generally think that the best branders have abandoned the really manipulative tactics of the 60s and 70s to focus on meeting the customers' needs, which in the long run will be more beneficial to both the brander and the customer. On the other hand, all the complaining about being arm-twisted into buying a brand just smacks of abdication of responsibility to be a conscientious consumer.

To address the original question, I lean towards brands where there is a high level of involvement, like my Mac or my Nikon and Canon cameras (though I have a fondness for my cheapo Lubitel, too.) I like Starbucks coffee, but there's no way I'll pay 3.50 for a cup when there's free joe at the office.

On Jul.25.2003 at 03:23 PM
Nathan’s comment is:

with the 'quality'/manipulation thing, that's what i never understand or hear/see explained in a satisfactory way. i suppose i just don't believe people fall for these things or are as convinced by them as the brands think they are. i really don't think advertising is capable of manipulation in that way-but it's near impossible to prove either way.

Just think, if there are actually people who fall for the obvious deceipt of "melt your fat away" with John Woo's electric waist reducer, how many more people are influenced by the much subtler but no less seductive pitches of such established companies as there are in the fashion, beauty, and medical industries.

What advertisers are counting on is that the vast majority of people do not critically analyse what they see and hear in advertising. Make an effort to try to specifically evaluate what a commercial is trying to tell you, and hopefully you will start to see where the manipulation is happening. It is easier to analyse ads for products that do not interest you, because you can be more objective, then you can carry that over to other ads. I assure you that advertising can have a strong impact. There is a reason why it is such a huge industry.

On Jul.25.2003 at 03:32 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

but there's no way I'll pay 3.50 for a cup when there's free joe at the office.

But you are just as pleased with the office Folgers as with Starbucks? There is free and there is pleasure.

I forgot to mention character in brands. VW and Honda has character to me, Mercedes and Toyota don't. The atmosphere is different in a Starbucks then in a deli, the sites the people - it's what I want to be around.

It's hard not to be stereotypical in these discussions, it almost borders on some form of racisim. Strange.

I think this polarization is a result of our focus on what brands and branding do to a degree that Joe Sixpack can't imagine.


1. Coca-Cola

sugar, have it sometimes but try to avoid it, red

2. Microsoft

$, bill gates, crappy software, geeks

3. IBM

old beige and black computers, Lotus, nice ads in the NYT

4. GE

microwaves, airplane engines


bum bum bum bum, guys in space suits


phone after phone after phone that is just like the last phone in a new shape


mickey, midwesteners


the arches, red, midwesteners, bad food


cowboys, red


silver, italizied serifs, big

On Jul.25.2003 at 03:37 PM
graham’s comment is:

nathan-i take your points and agree that coercion is inherent in advertising. but does buying something commit one to a belief in the qualities claimed for it? i don't believe for a moment that anyone honestly thinks a skin cream might make them young-in the same way the alchemists didn't really believe they had a chance of turning base metal into gold-but perhaps more that the experience of buying is a panacea and the product is secondary to that. i think critical analysis is too blunt an instrument to explore these things with because it demands concrete conclusions where i don't think there are any to be had: perhaps our requirement for satisfaction through acquisition is a far more anthropological thing anyway. we were hunters not so long ago . . .

i don't know if i make any sense whatsoever.

On Jul.25.2003 at 03:50 PM
rebecca’s comment is:

I just erased my whole post. Good points Graham; makes sense to me.

On Jul.25.2003 at 03:54 PM
jesse’s comment is:

Makes sense to me, too, Graham.

On Jul.25.2003 at 04:07 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

What's nice about brands is that they build up a reputation of quality (hopefully) that allows you to simplify your decision making. If I'm fine and dandy with Kellogg's, then Kellogg's it is. I was completely confounded last year when I spent a week in Italy and went grocery shopping, only to find food brands I had no idea about. I did see Philadelphia Cream Cheese, but, really, I'm not buying that in Italy. The shopping trip was much more difficult than my typical grocery run here in NJ, but in the end, I stepped out of my personal brandland and found other good items exist.

There is no damn starbucks in the Dominican Republic and I miss it as hell.

Perhaps this is more a cultural comment than a brand comment, but this disheartens me. I don't want to go to Paris and eat at a McDonald's on the Champs d'Elysee, just as I don't want Philadelphia Cream Cheese in Tuscany. There were a bunch of restaurants near the main train station in Hamburg all touting "American-style" cuisine. On a lark, I went one night and it wasn't even close. So were they tempting fellow Germans in like we go to French or Italian restaurants, or were they catering to the traveling Americans who want to see the world without actually experiencing it?

On Jul.25.2003 at 04:08 PM
Paul’s comment is:

Building on what Jonsel, wrote...

I have always relished the trips to unfamiliar retail environments that come with international travel. I love browsing shelves dominated by packaging with which I have no associations or history: look at all the brandless brands!

I think this shows how heavily brands weigh on me as a consumer, and I'm sure I'm not alone. When they are gone, I feel liberated and able to "read" the packages more objectively. And I get more pleasure out of it. Perhaps its just the joy of novelty and would wear off soon enough, but one of my favorite things to do in Japan was shop, and I really hate shopping here in the states...

On Jul.25.2003 at 04:59 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

If brands establish values in people then can values be brands? In other words, brands tend to constitute a material component, so can an ideal lacking the physical be a brand?

Religious and political affiliations? Social ideals? Musical tastes? Choice of cuisine?

On Jul.25.2003 at 07:27 PM
Amanda’s comment is:

Brands that make me cheer:




Brands that make me cringe:



Barnes & Noble



It's easier to isolate the brands you loathe.

On Jul.25.2003 at 08:18 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

This is turning into Good/Bad Consumer Brands

I don't want to go to Paris and eat at a McDonald's on the Champs d'Elysee, just as I don't want Philadelphia Cream Cheese in Tuscany.

I agree. My family is from Switzerland. We used to schlepp everything from coffee to chocolate home with us when we visited. No more. We can get it all domestically now. I don't like it. I don't want Walmart in Japan or Mexico. This "global village" thing is not exciting.

On Jul.25.2003 at 08:41 PM
pk’s comment is:

i have a strange relationship with brands. on the one hand, i refuse (to the extreme) to display logos anywhere on my person. i refuse to pay shitloads for MAC cosmetics when i'm just going to wear it in a dark nightclub. i refuse to pay a hairdesser to cut and dye my hair when i can cut and dye a mohawk just fine. i refuse to buy a saab or beamer; my honda civic has been running without problem for eight years. all of these things i perceive as commodity products which are completely interchangeable.

but then...when it comes to clothing, i refuse to buy anything but certain companies which i know put work into their craftsmanship—and i'm perfectly willing to pay for it. i will not buy some off-the-rack crap from urban outfitters or H&M, because the actual design—the shape of the piece of clothing, not the cheap screenprinted graphic—is a preset. t-shirt, oxford shirt, jeans, whatever. screw that; gimme dolce and gabbana or issey miyake or anyone who actually looks at the shape of the clothing on the body. otherwise, i'm wearing de-tagged ten-year-old gap baggy jeans and a two-dollar wifebeater. there is no grey area between the extremes. diesel and DKNY, those middle-brow craphouses, can fuck right on off.

this extreme difference in my attitudes happens in other areas of purchasing as well, but that's the most obvious example. i guess i won't pay for a brand unless it's proven to me it can do what it says, and better than the others.

On Jul.25.2003 at 09:33 PM
eric’s comment is:

Coffee, Tea or Marketing

Once again my evening has been hijacked by millman and the marketing posse. I wrote something earlier but threw it out with the hopes that everything that could be said about this thread had already run its course. And yet David's seemingly innocent question about brand choice has turned into a whirligig of corporate governance and consumer conscience.

I buy a brand for what it can do for me and my product: Do these pants make my ass look big? Is it this year's black? I've never even been in an audi, and yet I want to own one? Why dress it up in hypocracy: I like nice and pretty. Presumably, its what we do for a living.

I don't "not buy" Miller beer because it's owned by Altria (nee Philip Morris). I wear italian suits because they feel nice and have a great cut. I understand very little this precious need to micromanage all your decisions so that every purchase somehow reflects the enlightened soul of the consumer. I'm not casting a vote. I'm making a purchase. Economics is more complicated than what I do with my gum money.

I don't think Big Business wakes up with a glint in its eye and nod towards Satan every morning. Business is hostile not evil.

On Jul.25.2003 at 10:17 PM
Todd’s comment is:

I don't think Big Business wakes up with a glint in its eye and nod towards Satan every morning. Business is hostile not evil.

Yup. People forget that companies are just made up of people trying to make a living and get ahead. That makes them (us!) do selfish, nasty things sometimes, but it's easier to attribute that to the big, faceless, uncaring corporation. But it's people just like you and me who are creating this stuff to feed their families.

On Jul.25.2003 at 11:30 PM
Ray’s comment is:

A Porsche could be considered an extension of your dick and a cup of coffee is...well...just a cup of coffee.

On Jul.25.2003 at 11:52 PM
Mike’s comment is:

In response to Kiran Max Weber... by "anti brand" I mean only that I get ground down by the constant barrage of branding and try not to associate myself with any particular brand. I use whatever works and is cheap.Using high profile branded products is unavoidable today unless you make it your life's work to avoid them. I only use aol because I am a computer illiterate who wanted to try to shield my kid from porn and aol has "parental controls". I think anyone who has used aol for more than a few months will agree that it sucks horribly.

On Jul.26.2003 at 11:57 AM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

Using high profile branded products is unavoidable today unless you make it your life's work to avoid them.

Mike, that's exactly what I was pointing out with my statement. They are unavoidable. As pointed out above, as soon as you move left or right of mainstream, you end up getting branded which is why one may have shifted in the first place. It's a wacky cycle.

On Jul.26.2003 at 05:29 PM
Seth Werkheiser’s comment is:

... yea, but can you get a Grande Mocha Fudge Brownie Frappacino at the deli? heh... I visit a Starbucks maybe two to three times a year (it's next door to the Apple store in Philadelphia) and I go to a locally owned coffee place (NiBors) maybe 100 days a year.

The thing is, the Starbucks is 'slick' and has cool music, while the local place has trinkets, gaudy design, local radio station music, and bright lights. But maybe my prefrence will change when I move to NYC and have a starbucks on every corner.

On Jul.28.2003 at 11:53 AM
zander’s comment is:

iguess this is down to the relatonship between the signifier and the signified. the relationship between surface and content. "real" and perceived needs or wants. some is natural and some is manipulation.

most of avoid eating at places that seem to "messy or dirty" which is natural because we try to avoid getting food poisoning (or for some the

meal is an artistic enjoyment on top of health issues and then they look for places that "seem" to care about this issue in cooking) there is also in our society some that care about "values" on political issues for example or ethics in general. alot care about being "with it" so they look for products to flash to seem "with it". and so on...

what do i like/do/think?

i'm very interested and passionate about political and cultural issues of the world.. no need to get into them.. but the point is that they affect my actions also in consumation choices .. and therefor my relation to the brands .. i try to "punish" ;) where there is a obvious gap between the surface and the content, because i believe it to be a central issue for our culture, to which degree we can use the communication we get, in media, between humans and from brands in advertising..

companies are merely a group of people acting for ashared cause .. the same basic ethics could and should be demanded from them as from single individuals.. i dont dig people that deceive, i dont dig companies that do ..so on .. so on ..

On Jul.29.2003 at 06:33 AM
zander’s comment is:

and dont give me the "it's impossible".. its completely up to yourself, if you want to make your own denim and make your own jeans (as an extreme).. it all depends on your views towards how this will affect the direction of the wolrd.. is it the ethical right thing to do, and how will it affect my other actions/options

On Jul.29.2003 at 06:36 AM
zander’s comment is:

mcluhan said than in the instantly connected world .. we would turn into nomadic information gatherers and in a sense artists (artists meant as anti-enviroment creaters) (the antienviroment being a mean of perceiving the "real" enviroment) ...maybe and this is me more than mcluhan maybe or maybe not... philosophers if you will.. creating meaning from the information we gather in order to change ourselves

what i'd like to say is that it seems that technologies end up affecting us thru their basic form and not the content they carry, by affecting the way we perceive the world, and by affecting the stresses put upon us by the changes we dont perceive (example the guy who did the wheel had no idea of the affect it would have on how we perceive the world today) economy as a technology is the same ofcourse.. it changes us.. we could perceive ourselves as one with technology .. that we are techno man and have been so all along .. as extensions of man.. we might even say we are technologies penis & vagina ... them mutating thru us, with its control being on us and not opposite

anyway ... i think it could somehow thru economy be related down to brands and how they affect how we perceive the world.. not thru their content and values but thru their techonology

On Jul.29.2003 at 06:47 AM
Christopher Simmons’s comment is:

When I was a kid my father actually forbade us from wearing overtly branded apparel, "How much are they pating you to wear that?" he would ask.

Now, like most who have posted here, I too am conflicted on this issue. As a designer I obviously believe in the commercial value and importance of design/branding/etc. At the same time, I wonder about the cultural cost of living in our brand new word, and I make a conscious effort to avoid being branded myself.

I think, as "insiders," we have a different appreciation for the forces at play when it comes to design and branding. There is a degree of transparency that still exists for us that becomes obscured once the brand is pumped through the machine and into popular culture (the insidiousness of the term"popular culture" should be the subject of another thread). Yet even we are not immune to the seductive lure of our branded culture.

I posted a picture of my workspace in another thread and it was immediately reduced to a dissection of brands, despite the absence of any identifying mark or logo.

As I look up from writing this post, I see logos on my laptop, my television (and the channel I am watching), my alarm clock, etc. - all staring back at me, validating my taste, my style, choices, my worth (self, not net).

Somehow we think it means something to drink Coke and not Pepsi.

To root for one sports team over another.

It's no longer enough simply to like something, we want everyone to know that we like it, because we think that says something about us.

I'd argue that it does say something about us, just not what we think it says.

On Sep.13.2003 at 12:59 PM
Susie’s comment is:

If a friend buys only clothes from express or above, is it right to call her shallow? She does not openly adverise for the company with shirts that say "Banana Republic" on them; but nonetheless would never buy something from Wal-Mart, even if they are the exact same threads. She think that everything a GAP commericial has on it is now the cool thing without using any thought herself. I think it is a shame that some executive decides what is or is not in her closet. I think that she is shallow for thinking that she can only wear clothes that cost a quarter of her paycheck. I think she is shallow for looking down at others that don't wear Express. But are we all this shallow, in that we want to be "fashionable" and admired?

On Nov.30.2004 at 08:37 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Fearing that this "friend" might or might not exist, I will go out on a limb and say that "she" is shallow because "she" is shallow — and here I am refraining from other offensive adjectives — not because of what some executives think should be in "her" closet. Education, character and values — among other things — are what make, or not make, people shallow. Not branding.

On Nov.30.2004 at 08:58 PM
Lee Boon Tan ’s comment is:

Brand is one of the most popular concepts in marketing today.

Brand to me is the symbolic that represent information connected with a product or a service. The symbolic may be used where it legal called trademark or logo. This symbol is almost always the focal point from which the identity is judge. Brand-speak. It will create an image within the minds of consumer and consists with all the information and associated with their product or services.

For example a same type of coffee the price and of a recognize shop like Starbucks is much more expensive then a normal local coffee shop. This is because of the corporate branding. That who is the target audience they aimed and what reputation the corporate wants in public.

Branded to me means that the product that basis of quality of the brand or the reputation of the brand owner and it normally more expensive. In my point of view branded product are normally more expensive is because of advertising.

On Dec.06.2005 at 04:01 PM