The word “brand” is so overused in the marketing communications world; the term has become completely stripped of any meaning. Are you a brand or person?
Not to pick on Advertising Age, but the Nov. 10 issue is a “brandfest.” A front page story is headlined, “An instant overhaul for tainted Brand America.” There is a headline on page three that reads, “To rebuild, GOP must tear down its brand and return to core values.” An item about “Brand Philippines needs and deserves investment” is on page 15. A page 21 column is headed, “Wanted: a way to objectively measure your brand’s value.” On page 49, one reads, “Who will ape McCain brand suicide with embrace of Palin?” In the jump box on page 55, there stands, “Brand Obama.”
The 60-page magazine is stuffed with a 26-page ad insert. That leaves 34 pages. Ten of those carry full page ads, one from Fuse TV was tagged, “They’re with the B(rand).” That leaves 24 editorial pages. Six of those feature “brand.”
[Full disclosure: a Nov. 11 item posted on odwyerpr.com is called "U.S. Falls in 'Country Brand' Ranking." It was a report about Futurebrand's "country brand index." My solemn pledge to you is that "brand" will not appear in an future odwyerpr.com headline.]
People and countries are not “brands.” Barack Obama and John McCain, for instance, are not brands. They are individuals filled with hopes and dreams for their country. “Branding” them diminishes those aspirations. It cheapens them as commodities.
Let’s bury “brand” once and for all. Or at the very least, let’s restrict its use to consumer products. Do you prefer “Brand X” or “Brand Y” corn flakes? That was the original intent of the term until things got so out of whack.