As someone who dropped out of a Bachelors Degree majoring in Marketing, it is quite ironic that I sit here writing a post about that very subject. (As an aside, why are most of my friends now in Marketing in one form or another? “Every time I think I’m out, they keeping pulling me back in!”) Anyway, Lucas Conley has written a very interesting article for Fast Company, about corporate America’s obsession with branding. Check out the article here. There are however, two sides to every argument. Shannon Bain has posted an excellent rebuttal entitled “Reacting to brand-reactionaries…”.

This raises a myriad of questions. Firstly, what is a brand. Wikipedia describes it as “the symbolic embodiment of all the information connected with a company, product or service”. This leads to concepts such as brand experience, brand image, brand consiousness, brand recognition, brand name, branding and brand equity! (I have no idea what any of that means… I knew there was a reason I dropped out of Marketing at uni). Personally, I think it’s a concept like ‘post modern’… everybody uses it without knowing what it means. Different people use the term to mean different things, and as a result it loses any real meaning.

If a brand is the embodiment of all the information connected with a company, product or service, is it really possible for any two people to feel identically the same about a brand? The brand becomes something intrinsic, something much more emotional, and less rational. Yes, it would be possible to have a similar, but never identical, connection to a company, product or service. As Conley notes, “one cannot go about branding an organization or a product or a service; the organization, product, or service is what creates the brand. In a brilliant twist, the experts have bottled an end and sold it as a means”. A brand is ultimately a very personal thing. It is the culmination of what it means to YOU! All one can hope for is that enough people have a similar connection in order to market to that group, however large (or small) it may be.

I know those kind of comments will be like poking the bear (or the goat!, as the case may be) with a stick, but this is a forum that encourages debate. Which position do you agree with? I have a feeling I’ll get some interesting feedback on this one!