Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What do your brands say about you?

As a brand guy, I think of almost everything as a brand. But, in a way, in today’s world almost everything is a brand. For instance, I have branded universities, museums, musical groups, individuals, churches, municipalities and even neighborhoods, so what isn’t a brand?

The brands that people associate with say a lot about who they are. For instance, tell me if you can guess anything about the people who use these brands?

  • Person A went to Yale, drives a Mercedes-Benz E350, lives in Rye, NY, has a home in Nantucket, reads the Wall Street Journal and Wine Spectator and sails a Hinkley Sou‘wester 42
  • Person B went to Brigham Young University, lives in Idaho Falls, ID, is very involved in his church and Boy Scouts of America and enjoys reading The American Spectator
  • Person C went to Hampshire College, drives a Saab, is a professor at Oberlin College, uses Method cleaning products and enjoys Stonyfield Yogurt
  • Person D went to Tufts University, lives in Newton, MA, drives a Cadillac Escalade and belongs to the Brae Burn Country Club
  • Person E, went to Texas Christian University, drives a Ford F150, enjoys watching high school football games, likes wearing Wrangler jeans and enjoys eating at Cattleman’s Steakhouse
  • Person F went to MIT, lives in Atherton, CA, drives several cars including a Tesla Roadster, is a private pilot and enjoys spending time at a home in Nevis
  • Person G lives in South Alamo, TX, drives a vintage Dodge 1500 pickup, shops at Wal-Mart and enjoys spending time with friends at Rollin Sports Bar
  • Person H went to Reed College, lives in Mill Valley, CA, drives a Toyota Prius, reads the Economist, Harpers and Foreign Affairs magazines and enjoys volunteering with Doctors Without Borders
  • Person I drives a Ford Focus, likes wearing Victoria’s Secret PINK and also likes the Lu Lu Lemon and Juicy Couture brands
  • Person J drives an Audi R8 Spyder, uses Briggs & Riley Travelwear, likes drinking Schrader Cellars, Maybach Family Vineyards and Paul Hobbs wines and enjoys wearing Robert Graham, Vilebrequin and ETRO clothes
  • Person K went to Elon University, drives a Toyota Camry, buys clothes at JCPenny, likes eating at Olive Garden and Cheesecake Factory and enjoys reading People magazine
  • Person L drives a Lexus ES, wears Lands’ End and Brooks Brothers clothes and a Luminox watch and uses Footjoy and Titlist brands when golfing
  • Person M wears an oversized white t-shirt, baggy Dickie, Ben Davis or Solos pants, a Chicago Bulls baseball cap worn backwards and red Converse gym shoes with black laces and drives a black car with a large red stripe
  • Person N drives a Chevrolet Volt, likes to tailgate at Buffalo Bills games, frequents Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, shops at Lane Bryant and loves to wear Alex and Ani jewelry

Ok, I made these people up and they are perhaps too consistently stereotypical. However, the point I am trying to make is that we can learn much about people by the brands with which they surround themselves. For instance, I would imagine that you could guess many of the following attributes about each of these people based on the brands they use: ethnicity, religious and political party affiliations, level of educational attainment, income and net worth ranges, and perhaps even age, gender, occupation, personal values and socio-economic group of origin.  You could also guess with which person you might feel the most comfortable interacting. Further, even if you do not guess correctly, there may still be a common set of inferences that people make about others based on the brands that they use. Considering all of this, we realize what a branded society we have become in which brands are intertwined with culture, status, self-identity and self-expression.

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