Somebody sent me an e-mail asking why I thought “Branding is Dead”.
“C’mon Hugh, it’s not necessarily true just because you and Doc Searls say it is.”
Well, I belive it to be true for a few reasons.
1. The term “Branding” was pretty meaningless when I started in advertising in the early 1990’s. Ask six people to define what “Branding” is and you will get seven different answers. The longer I’ve been in the business, the truer this has become. Perhaps it’s time to pull the plug.
2. “Branding” has no point other that to define the brand-metaphor. The actual business is secondary. In the end, it’s in the business of changing the landscape in order to make the map more aesthetically pleasing to look at.
3. Branding asks the question “What is it?”, when the question really should be “What is it for?”
4. “Branding” is backwards looking. It’s all about capturing past associations. It’s never about what the business could become, but protecting what came before.
5. “Branding” is all about articulating top-down, hierarchal control of the conversation. “This is what it means.” It’s EGOlogy, not ECOlogy.
6. I generally find people who like using the word “Brand” a lot are assholes.
7. I find the people who disagree with me the most are in the branding business themselves, and have no incentive to agree with me. In fact, quite the opposite.
8. I think the world is changing. I think branding-as-high-art serves the purpose of a reality that no longer exists.
9. Perhaps most importantly: Markets are conversations. The conversation I am having with my friend about your product is not “The Brand”. It is a conversation between me and my friend. It’s none of your frickin’ business until I tell you it is.
[BONUS LINKS:] There’s a great article in Wired on the subject. Also Cory over at BoingBoing has a few thoughts worth reading. Thanks to Dominik for e-mailing me the links.