Thursday, February 24

Living In A Brand-Less World

I love today's blog post because it's about something that I have never thought about: living in a place where there are no brands! Can you imagine if all the products around us were stripped of their marketing with no indication of branding? As a marketer, I get the shakes!

One of my NYU students actually experienced this, in the military. I asked him to comment on what it was like to live in an environment where there are no brands. I found the answer to be comforting.

Oscar, what's your experience? Jim.

I served in the US Air Force for eleven years and on several locations found myself on brand-less (or at least limited branding) environments. Environments like military training (where everything looks standard down to the haircut) to deployed military locations where all my senses were turned off and focused on the mission at hand.

While being a subject within these brand-less environments, I've had the opportunity to be an internal observer of a human (at least American) behavior and people's reactions to marketing stimuli. What I found most interesting was that upon leaving this environment, all the subjects seemed to reach out for a loud expression of individuality -- something that would provide them comfort and security in the form of a Polo shirt, a Yankee cap, etc.

Frankly, I don't recall anyone reaching out for a plain product without a visible brand logo. My conclusion on this observation is that there is great potential in bringing comfort and security to individuals through effective marketing.

Have you observed this behavior yourself? Have you gotten comfort and security from a brand? Maybe while going to McDonald's or Starbucks while traveling in a foreign country?

- Oscar Caicedo, NYU Student

Note from Jim: Although certainly living without brands is the least of the concerns of the military, it is fascinating to think about how we can make them all feel at "home".


  1. This is so true! One of my friends is a marine and when he returned from Iraq the first thing he wanted to do is eat Taco Bell and go to a Phillies game (haha). My friends and I also noticed his rather "loud" self expression coming out..he grew a "fo-hawk" and was always wearing an obnoxious Volcom or Billabong t-shirt. I never really read into it too much I guess, but I would be dying to come home to all my brands too! How boring! It really is amazing that a brand can literally give us a feeling of security and comfort. And yes, it must be very rewarding to marketers; knowing that they can comfort our troops even if it is just with somethng like a Coca-cola.

  2. It is very rewarding and very inspiring to know that the work we do has an impact. Jim.

  3. Mine is quite a parochial brand experience. I travel out of Australia (currently home) regularly and I know I am heading home as I complete my breakfast order on the plane and tick toast with Vegemite. In Saatchi & Saatchi terms, Vegemite is my Lovemark. My son, at 7 years old, already aligns his love of Vegemite, with his love of being Australian and the comfort of being somewhere familiar and safe. Not bad for a black, salty, yeast based spread that doesn't even tast good if it is not spread onto your toast in just the right proportion to the butter, and only has one product claim of being a rich source
    of vitamin B. A great example of a Brand creating loyalty beyond reason.