Visual CultureConsumerism, the Imageand the Brand
Consumer SocietyCapitalism is a commodity culture, a system where the consumption ofgoods is necessary for its survival. Images, advertising and branding arecentral to the function of a capitalist society, it is through the construction ofdesirable lifestyles and self image that a culture of consumption ismaintained.The rise of a consumer society has coincided with an era (late 19th and early20th century) which has seen a change in traditional values, the growth anddiversity of an urban population and a change in the role of community andfamily on social values. One of the elements which our diverse society isequally subjected to is advertising.Sturken and Cartright note, “people derived their sense of place in the worldand self image at least in part through their purchase and use ofcommodities.............advertising replaced what had previously been thesocial construct of communities, becoming, in effect, a central source ofcultural values” P193
Consumer SocietyThe role of the commodity is central to how we deﬁne ourself, a car mayget us from A to B but owning a Nissan Leaf or a Range Rover sayssomething about our believes as does the difference between buying theGuardian and the Times, a Gucci handbag or the Anya Hindmarch I’m-not-a-plastic-bag bag or a record deck or mp3 player.Stuart Ewan deﬁnes this as the commodity self, the notion that our self isconstructed by our consumption and use of commodities.The role of advertising could be seen to support this construction of selfthrough creating a concept of the commodity self, asserting that a productwill deﬁne you as part of a certain group, or different from a certain groupand attaching human qualities to an object.
The BrandA brand is the total experience of aproduct, service organisation etc, both interms of the tangible and intangibleattributes associated with it.“A brand is a name, term, design, symbolor any other feature that identiﬁes oneseller’s good or service from that ofanother sellers”Dibb“A brand is the consumers feeling aboutyour product, your services or yourorganaization” Marty Neumeier
A brand is-Deﬁnedby QWERYUIthe OPASDGpublic HJLZXVB Not by NM the company
A brand is- Brand Image refers to the psychological or emotional aspect of a brand constructed in the minds of the consumer.E Winning Dynamic Health Energetic Brand Identity refers to the attributes and qualities that the producer aims to associate with their product.
A brand is- Winning DynamicSocial media LogosProducts Advertising Health Energetic ECustomer ExperienceStaff BehaviorAll of these things (and more) effecthow a brand is perceived, the aim ofcommunications is to align thebrand image with the brand identity.
In a world where most productsare similar, it is the brandthat differentiates oneproduct from the next.“consumer electronics have started to share one characteristic, no matter who makes them:theyre all rectangles. Now, companies like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google need to persuadeconsumers to buy new rectangles once a year.” NICK BILTON | New York Times
Value of the BrandNaomi Klein argues that the deﬁning moment for the brand as entity camewhen Philip Morris Bought Kraft for $12.6 billion, six times what the companywas worth on paper based on the value of the brand name, assigning a hugemonetary value to something abstract and intangible.The effect of this was an explosion of advertising with companies realisingthey were in the business of selling lifestyles not products. Starbucks sells anexperience not coffee, IBM sells solutions not computers and Nike“enhances people lives through sports” rather than manufactures trainers.This explosion of advertising has seen adverts inﬁltrate every aspect of ourlives, from ad supported music, telephone calls, magazines, taxi cabs, ﬁlms,in-game ads, ad supported apps, etc -no corner of the world seems to haveescaped.
Brand Equity Brand BrandBrand Equity is the value nameattributed to the brand, loyalty awarenessessentially this could be seen asthe difference between the costof production and the exchangevalue of a commodity. BrandEquity can be said to be a sum Brandof the components shown to the Equityright. Perceived Brand brand associations quality Dibb et al
Brand EquityFirmLevelHow much the brand is worth as anasset, the difference between thevalue of an organization and the valueof its tangible assets Product Level The difference in price between a branded and non-branded product Dibb et al
Brand EquitySee the following video from interbrand on how they calculate brand valuehttps://vimeo.com/50380472#
Branding beneﬁtsBranding can clearly offer substantialrewards to organisations in terms of “Action Branding — you are what you do.revenue and loyalty, many would argue If you are a brand or business: Action Brandingthere are also substantial beneﬁts for theconsumer and society, means walking the talk” www.ifwerantheworld.com"Brands began as a form not ofexploitation, but of consumer protection.A brand provided a guarantee of reliabilityand quality...The ﬂip side of the powerand importance of a brand is its growingvulnerability. Because it is so valuable toa company, a brand must be cosseted,sustained and protected. A failedadvertising campaign, a drop-off in qualityor a hint of scandal can all quickly sendcustomers ﬂeeing. The more companiespromote the value of their brands, themore they will need to seem ethicallyrobust and environmentally pure. Hence,brands are levers for lifting standards."The Economist
Branding consNot everybody is convinced however, the popularity of authors such asNaomi Klein, Benjamin Barber and magazines such as Adbusters is perhapstestament to a growing disdain for having every aspect of our lifes targetedby large corporations.Much of the backlash against large brands is based on the idea that brandimage masks the true behavior of the organization and the effect thatcontinually reinforcing a need for self improvement has a detrimental effect ofthe well-being of the public. The backlash against the brands often sees actsof subvertisment, appropriation and detournement challenge both the brandsas individuals and the nature of capitalism itself.http://www.woostercollective.com/2004/10/the_vacuum_cleaner_takes_on_st.html
Branding- re-appropriationIncreasingly the actions of anti-advertisers are threatened by the fact thatmuch of their language and creative style has been re-appropriated by thebrands. Many consumer savvy brands now offer an anti-ad message, fromsprites cry that “image is nothing, thirst is everything” to the removal of ads ina copy of the independent sponsored by Bradford & Bingley organisationsare responding to disillusioned consumers in new ways.Many argue that the key to success is in ethical branding, associating abrand with a cause, Marian Salzman, leading advertising expert argues,“Finding the right ethical connection, however, is going to be a competitivebusiness. Highlight the right cause and youre still in the game,Highlight thewrong cause and you lose." www.debalie.nlWhilst this may seem like a positive effect many argue that the reduction ofserious political issues to the act of selling undermines the importance ofserious social issues.
Further ReadingBERGER, J., 1990. Ways of Seeing. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Dibb, Simkin, Pride and Ferrell. Marketing: Concepts and Strategies.Houghton MifﬂinKlein, N. 2001. No Logo. London: FlamingoSTURKEN, M., & CARTRIGHT, L. 2001. Practices of Looking- AnIntroduction to Visual Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.http://clogic.eserver.org/2003/sharpe.htmlhttps://www.adbusters.org/