Friday Rant #2: Brands, from Cows to Consumerism

2006-08-18 00:00

The world (more-or-less) runs on a free market. This is widely regarded as a good thing by a lot of people, including me. But I have a problem. The notion of a brand has changed considerably since the first ranchers branded their cattle in the midwest to keep cow-theives from taking their livestock. Back then, a brand was a mark of ownership, but because the brand was permanent, when stuff was sold the ownership changed and the brand stayed the same. So a brand mutated to be the originator of the thing (in this example, livestock.) This developed into the consumer trust relationship that brands/companies enjoy today, as specific products and quality of service became associated with the brand.This isn’t a bad thing, in theory. It allows consumers to find and buy quality products; however, modern brands often advertise and attempt to market products which encourage buying within a brand. That is, they encourage consumers to go ‘whole-hog’ and buy all their products and services from one company. The advertising has changed from consumer education to consumer manipulation. It’s a fine line and it’s hard to draw a good line between the two. Advertisers need to shape up. I find more and more that I completely ignore advertising. Most of the ads I’m exposed to are Internet and Television ads, which many people can cut right out of their lives (through Ad-Blocking software and Tivo/PVR/DVR devices.) This is a good thing, because it makes advertisers change their techniques, hopefully for the better. I don’t trust brands. I trust reviews, some sellers, and personal experience, but all with a grain of salt. I don’t like the idea of what brands have become. They’re labels for economic status. The only thing a knockoff company can’t copy is the trademark and copyright of their more expensive bretheren, so the only difference in most cases is the logo. Ignore the brand, ignore the logo, and the free market starts to work again. Provided consumers pay attention. So…pay attention.

Note: This entry imported via Facebook's Note feature from my old website, much is expected to be broken.