Doing some serious weeding at my mums the other day brought on my long-standing, though usually manageable, hay-fever. I realised I needed some anti-histamine so went to the local chemist. I was offered a choice of various branded versions or a generic one, at a fraction of the cost. I chose the latter.
It got me thinking about brands and branding.
For many years I would only eat Heinz baked-beans and use Daddies Tomato Ketchup: because that’s what I was brought up on . . . in the days when “Beanz Meanz Heinz”.
As I started doing my own shopping and becoming aware of the cost of big-name brands I started experimenting with home-brands and bargain versions. Yes, they varied in taste and quality, but isn’t variety the spice of life? A baked-bean is a baked bean and although a few brands were cheap and nasty, I soon learnt that the majority were perfectly acceptable on toast for the occasional quick meal. And Heinz? I’ll still buy them if they’re on a good offer, but why pay a significant amount more just for a name?
And then the thought came to me. ‘Branding’ used to mean what farmers do to their livestock to show everyone who it belongs to. Or what the Nazis did to Jews.
I’d always thought that ‘you get what you pay for’, an idea confirmed by 17 years working in Quality Assurance. And, quite reasonably, one would associate quality (or lack of it) and particular traits with products from a given manufacturer. If you want a top-notch car you’d be looking at a Rolls-Royce rather than a Ford! But branding, these days, seems to have taken the concept to depths unimaginable in the hey-day of TV adverts.
Anytime, anyplace, anywhere . . . that’s Martini
And that’s a sort of branding that, whilst it may date you, also makes you smile.
Today? Branding is designed to make you a compulsive, unthinking, shopaholic.
The rise of ‘The brand’ has not been an evolution for the better: it reflects how so much of so many people’s lives is now governed by the industries based on and promoting brand-names: whether it be for baked-beans or pop-singers. Talk about unreal!
What a good time to remind ourselves of the one thing upon which most philosophers generally agree:
The description of a thing is not the thing itself.
As we become more aware, more consciously evolved, so we’ll increasing see things for what they are: beneath all the hype and clever, marketing words.
As the outmoded advertising industry attempts to cling to their power it is doing the only thing it knows how to do: it’s attempting to package the latest evolutionary ‘products’ and ‘services’. Such as reflective practice or mindfulness.
To anyone who’s felt the deeper reality of mindful presence and spent any significant time developing their abilities in this skill of higher consciousness, the idea of packaging it is ridiculous. Of cause, this won’t stop those who don’t understand the essence of mindful presence (or any related deeper practice) from trying to pin it down to marketing talk. They may even succeed in devaluing terms such as mindfulness.
But their attempts will be ultimately futile. Because, by devaluing words that do have meaning, so they devalue all words. And if words have no meaning, nor do brand names.