“Brand” is everywhere. It’s amongst us and around us all the time. It’s the salary we receive as citizens of a capitalist democracy. Today’s marketing environment is as harsh for our senses as the frozen forest clearing was for our hunter-gatherer cousins. Despite all the talk of the great white shark losing its edge, Apple for me is still the behemoth. It’s the ad equivalent of a velociraptor amongst the corporate dinosaurs.
These days, the poorly managed, insular world of small and local business is turning its grubby bulbous eyes north towards the top of the industrial ladder, extending its penny-pinching fingers onto Apple’s brand of brands, in an effort to Xerox its magnificence for their benefit.
Commercial radio now rents our ears with Apple’s sharp and simple audio style borrowing its celebrity muscle for all kinds of products and services, ranging from real estate agents to cow feed! The trademark white and drop-shadow backgrounds of those beautiful TV commercials are being butchered worldwide by deliberately unintelligent ladder salesmen on infomercials and non-functioning mass-market fly spray for 15 second sound bites.
It’s heartbreaking, really, because I love ads. Actually, in a different but slightly more accurate way, I love brands. We all do. Think about it; the elemental thought is a brand must be a name before anything else; Coke, Sky, Ford, Apple! Realistically though, we go for the “brand” in every aspect of our lives. When we walk in the park we prefer the baby ducks for their fluffier feathers and the taller trees for the impression they leave us; even the grass is better when it’s green and mowed in neat lines. Amongst our friends we offer different levels of interest based on their personal and emotional “brand” values.
Even language has brand value. Ask any call centre manager. The first point of contact for customers is always an accent, soft and calm. When the customer wants to speak to a supervisor, however, they’re treated to a cleaner more authoritarian tone of voice. Upper middle class English accents are the order of the day for call centre managers. Customers exit a phone call feeling positively appeased when they’ve had a chance to explain their woes to an English accent. Even though the advice on the other end is still that their bill is due by the 17th!
I’m a biased Apple fan. Oh well, heaps of people are. It doesn’t mean I can’t see the wood for the trees. The point to my nonsensical rant is that Apple has carefully crafted and maintained a beautiful brand image based on subtle but intelligent nuances throughout its advertising, designed to capture our imagination through its mirroring of our natural instincts and emotions. The guy selling buckets, on the other hand, should stick to hanging posters at the mall and hounding his web developer to make the logo bigger.
Small business should learn from big business, I don’t dispute that. But flagrantly pinching the creativity of beauty is a vain and vulgar investment. It all comes down to one simple fact. Good ideas are free. Great ideas are priceless.