Who Me? Thoughts on Being Branded a Label Ho...
The other day, I sat down in our Monday morning meeting and joined the banter about the new iPhone 5. I said something utterly ground breaking along the lines of, "Well they make it look pretty amazing in the commercials." Yes, the girl who works in branding and marketing has managed to sound impressed by how those smart kids at Apple managed to make me want to buy something. Now, don't get me wrong, I know how the game is played, but I'm also very much a product of my generation; if it looks shiny and new, I'll probably want it. This is my career, but I still can get my head turned with a creative marketing campaign and I will covet a new product just as easily as the next person. And that got me thinking about how marketing affects me not only in my career but also my every day life.
For just over a decade, my friends and family have branded me (little industry humor for you there) a "label whore." Now, this has irked me in the past, after all, who wants to be accused of not being able to think for themselves?
However, call me older, wiser, smarter, I have now taken the stance that, in fact, being a "label whore" means that I am able discern between what I want to be associated with, and what I don't. I, for example, have a deep seated loathing of Rock and Republic denim. Aside from the fact that it is marketed towards a certain flashy, rhinestone donning personality, the quality is below par, overpriced and you really are paying for those two ridiculous R's to be prominently displayed on your rear. But people pay for them because they, allegedly, speak of status. Now, let's look towards another company: Naked and Famous. First off, it's a Canadian company. Secondly, the denim is made in Canada. (Their Japanese denim is made in Japan.) This company goes above and beyond to create quality denim for collectors. It's clean, for the most part logo free, and allows you to keep your personality while wearing it as opposed setting you firmly in a demographic, as the former brand tends to do. This is a perfect example of drastically different marketing campaigns, one claiming you will be part of the in crowd if you wear their denim, and one saying "make this denim your own, let it tell your story, we are your canvas." I'm not saying one is universally superior to the other, but based on the research I, as a consumer have done, this is the conclusion I have come to regarding which company I will invest my money in.
My point is being a smart shopper (and I mean this in the broadest way possible, from nail polish to power tools) is learned by default. Marketers give us the tools, whether we know it or not, to sift through the excess and get right down to a company's message: who they are, where they're from, what they do, and how it's done. There is no excuse, for example, to buy conflict diamonds in our market, because certified conflict free diamonds are made accessible to us. All you need to do is look. Gone are the days when we could point the finger at unclear marketing campaigns, because now, these campaigns are done in a way that allows all consumers to be educated with regards to what they're purchasing – in essence making us all brand ambassadors for products we choose to endorse by giving us control of the information.
I, for one, love working in an industry where intelligent creativity is celebrated and a lust for being unique is encouraged instead of reviled. As I walk the fine line between being a consumer and a marketer I am able to watch the tide slowly but surely change as we steer back towards thinking for ourselves and holding marketing campaigns to a standard where we can make intelligent choices for ourselves.