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".