There's a Brand With Your Name On It!

by DavalosMcCormack on July 23, 2008

“Ninety-four percent of Japanese women in their twenties own a product made by the French luxury brand Louis-Vuitton. Although Louis-Vuitton charges more than 20 percent more for its products in Japan than in France, some 51 million of Japan’s 127 million citizens – 40 percent of the entire nation – own one of its products.”

That’s the opening paragraph to Lucas Conley’s book “Obsessive Branding Disorder”. It’s a fascinating, if rather disturbing, look at how branding and advertising are becoming ever more sophisticated in getting us to buy things we don’t need at prices we can’t afford.

It’s not just luxury goods either. This drive to brand everything runs the gamut from cat food to cans of soda, watches to water bottles. You name it, they’ll brand it. Even you! That’s right, one group wants to brand individuals to help them promote themselves.

Conley quotes Kevin Roberts, of the advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi, as calling his goal “Loyalty beyond reason”. That’s where you are so in love with a brand that you are willing to ignore price, convenience or quality of its competitors to buy it. In other words, madness!

This may seem an odd subject for a blog devoted to health and wellness. But hey, it’s our blog so we can write what we like right? More importantly it is relevant because it shows how we are all being manipulated, to one degree or another, to buy things we don’t need. Companies, advertisers, manufacturers, branding experts are devising new and ever more fiendish ways of emotionally manipulating us to buy their products.

They have some strong science to support what they’re doing. Studies show that emotion activates the brain 3,000 times faster than rational thinking. In addition people are twice as likely to buy something when their decision is based on emotion rather than reason. You know how it is, you see the perfect suit, shirt, dress, video game and you have to have it. Who cares that it costs way more than you can afford, you know that if you have that item it will make you a better, more confident person. Until you get it home and realize it fits in perfectly with every other item that made you feel the same way. At least for a while.

Conley says branding does more than just try to bombard you with clever, or not so clever, ads. Brands also have to use taste, smell, and sound to get your attention and, hopefully, your custom. It’s a multi-dimensional, multi-sensory approach that tries to embed slogans like McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” in your brain.

What can we do about this? In terms of stopping the onslaught, not a lot. This is a multi-billion dollar industry and they’re going to keep bombarding us with ads until we buy something. And that’s where your real power lies. Don’t buy it. Don’t buy into the branding, don’t buy into the advertising, and most of all don’t buy the product.

Now I’m not saying don’t buy anything that is advertised; if you did you’d soon be naked and starving, not a good combination! But think about what it is you are buying, even if it’s just a soda or loaf of bread. Look at how the packaging is designed to catch your eye; how they try to appeal to all your senses. If you still like it buy it, but don’t kid yourself into believing that new electric razor is going to have you surrounded by hordes of naked women. It won’t. I tried it.

note from shirley: You DID?!!!

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