Becoming Post-Branding - Blumenthal - Final


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Presented to IABC Senior Communicators Group June 17, 2012, Washington DC.


-There is a constant tension between wanting brands (which provide a fantasy of reconnection for the alienated self) and not wanting them (to return to a purer time).

-Brands are a symptom of alienation - from G-d, community, the land, etc. They provide a temporary relief from the pain of that disconnect.

-Brands continue to have an incredible power over every aspect of our lives. We feel surer about ourselves when a brand endorses our actions - whether it's raising children per an "expert's" advice or buying a brand of paper towels that we "know" won't disappoint the family.

-When we talk about brands evolving this isn't to say that an old form is going away but rather that there are concurrent streams of activity. It's about choosing the right kind of branding for the right product and the right audience.

- Brand insight is not an exercise in political correctness. If you refuse to see what's going on because it makes you uncomfortable you are losing insight and therefore money.

-Brands take the natural and give it back to you in a form you want to pay for. In the process they make you devalue the natural.

- Children are born unbranded and for a short time experience wholeness through the caregiver (ideally). However, they are rapidly introduced to the world of brands, which also quickly become markers of identity.

- The choice of brand is a very deliberate statement about who you are and is something even young people take very seriously.

- The concept of functional value is nothing more than the fantasy of protection against a dangerous world. It is not a logical function. Marketers exploit the notion of quality to instill a feeling of insecurity, e.g. "unless you buy my product you are at risk."

- Every type of economy is associated with a dominant brand fantasy: agrarian (fantasy of protection); industrial (escape); service (lifestyle); knowledge (superiority); collaboration (community); New Age (unity)

- There are 5 hallmarks of the post-branded age: 1) the disruption of "normal" and the othering of the previous "mainstream" 2) empowerment 3) sarcasm 4) anti-brand activism ("antibrandivism") and 5) reflexivity.

- Reflexivity is the most important quality - possessed by rare brand masters such as Charlie Sheen and Kris Jenner - who are able to immediately shift the brand based on anticipated reaction by the audience.

- The 10 principles of communication in a post-branding era: 1) balance consistency and authenticity 2) build the culture first 3) start at the top 4) everyone builds it 5) plain English 6) avoid roboticism and the "b-word" (brand) 7) distinguish marketing from information 8) reflect brand strategy in logo and name 9) encourage dissent 10) support social media.

- In the end, we won't need brands.

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  • Pew: Statistics on popularity: Top 3 as of July 16, 2012 - Facebook #1 in 2011: 880m, 47.2% reach YouTube #2 in 2011: 800m, 42.7% reach
  • Pew: Statistics on popularity: Top 3 as of July 16, 2012 - Facebook #1 in 2011: 880m, 47.2% reach YouTube #2 in 2011: 800m, 42.7% reach
  • Source:
  • Source: Highest paid actor in a primetime series in history of TV Typical: $125k/episode
  • Story source: Kris Jenner show co-creator: Avg. salary of reality show star is $10-25k/episode or .1-1m/year - examples Kris Jenner photo source: Price tag icon:
  • Becoming Post-Branding - Blumenthal - Final

    1. 1. Becoming Post-BrandDannielle BlumenthalJuly 17, 2012
    2. 2. Brand = attempt to reconnect.The alienation of worker from work, of self from self. From G-d, family, community, certainty.
    3. 3. The Economy of Fantasy
    4. 4. #1 “Normal… is what we make it.”
    5. 5. • #134 The TED • #120 Taking a Year Off Conference • #119 Sea Salt• #133 The World Cup • #118 Ugly Sweater• #132 Picking Their Own Parties Fruit • #117 Political Prisoners• #131 Conan O’Brien • #116 Black Music that• #130 Ray-Ban Wayfarers Black People Don’t Listen• #129 Banksy to Anymore• #128 Camping• #127 Where the Wild • #115 Promising to Learn Things Are a New Language• #126 Vespa Scooters • #114 America• #125 Bob Marley • #113 Halloween• #124 Hating People Who • #112 Hummus Wear Ed Hardy • #111 Pea Coats• #123 Mad Men• #122 Moleskine • #110 Frisbee Sports Notebooks • #109 The Onion• #121 Funny or Ironic • #108 Appearing to Enjoy Tattoos Classical Music
    6. 6. #2 Empowerment: “The process of obtaining…basicopportunities for marginalized people.” Source: Wikipedia
    7. 7. The Top Websites Are Social Facebook YouTube 47% reach 42% reach 880m unique users 800m unique users Figures for 2011. Via Google
    8. 8. 33,019,551 views
    9. 9. #3 Sarcasm: “The meme: a concept that spreads rapidlyfrom person to person via the Internet.” Source: Wikipedia
    10. 10. “Rage Comic” Classic YouTube“…funny, awkward and let 42% reachme express my feelings.” 800m unique users
    11. 11. #4 Anti-Brandivism
    12. 12. A Symbol of the Occupy Wall Street movement.Naomi Klein’s No Logo – a “manifesto.”Image via Adbusters.
    13. 13. #5 Reflexivity (sociological):“Examination or action…refers to, and affects the entity instigating the action or examination.” Source: Wikipedia
    14. 14. Charlie Sheen“Two And A Half Men” $1.25m Per episode vs. $125K
    15. 15. Kris Jenner Star, Creator,& ExecutiveProducer, “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” $13m per season vs .$1-1m
    16. 16. The 10 Principles1. Balance consistency 1. Avoid roboticism & and authenticity. the b-word.2. Culture first. 2. Distinguish3. Start at the top. marketing from information.4. Everyone builds it. 3. Reflect brand5. Plain English. strategy in logo and name. 4. Encourage dissent. 5. Support social media.
    17. 17. In the future we won’t need it.