Photo by Adam Crowe

Guest post by Jade Evans

It’s all about the brand. When you buy the premium product, the sleek design – say of the King of branding – Apple, you’re buying the projection of the brand and all the marketing that goes along with it. It’s like when you buy Nike shoes or those designer jeans – built into the price is their perception of you after you have ownership of that new, shiny, designer whatever.

What do you associate with Target? Most could come up with an answer on a dime. Who do you think of when you think of Patagonia? Pepsi?

These associations – I can tell you – they are not the byproduct of the environment of the company, or at least not solely. Companies work hard and put millions, hundreds of millions of dollars into creating that emotional and subtle immediate response when customers think of a brand. Emotional buying means impulse purchases. (Which is something that any heartbroken girl can tell you when all of those new shoes arrive at their door).

To use an example that has already been mentioned, Apple, in the late 1980’s, when things were just kicking off, pushed their marketing budget from $15 million to $100 million – in part (if not mostly) to establish that brand recognition, association and loyalty. That trend continues to this day, and permeates everything that Apple touches.

When you buy soda – do you buy Coke, or do you buy Pepsi? What do you think of someone who buys Coke if you’re a Pepsi drinker? Those kind of visceral, Yankees vs. Red Sox brand recognition and territoriality is what every company strives for, that kind of rabid loyalty of their base of customers. At that point, it isn’t about the products. It’s the fact that your brand made them that matters.

People get tied up in brands and the actions of brands, they are no longer a corporate entity but a friend. For example, when it was revealed that Nike was making their products in sweatshops, there was an uproar. Of course, part of that was because of larger human rights issues, but a great deal of it was also because of the strength of the brand identity and the fact that people came to trust that brand, and identify with it – they felt betrayed. (Much like the ways we see businesses abusing social media – clients get annoyed and feel personally betrayed when companies try to pull the wool over their eyes)

So remember – the next time you buy that designer watch, or slip that new iPhone into your purse – you’re (intentionally or not) going to be joining the echelons of the followers of that brand and will be, one way or another, affected by the mindset that comes along with it.

About the author
Jade Evans is a writer who is fascinated by how companies spend money – from Apple to a Wilton NY bank, from Target, credit union Albany NY, and Patagonia to your local bodega. Talk to her about finances all day and she’ll be fascinated.

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