Don’t brand me with that white-hot iron poker!

I don’t wanna be brand-concious. I really don’t. I didn’t think I was. I didn’t KNOW I was…until, sometime last year[? Or earlier this year [my memory fails me]], Gobs and I saw a BEAUTIFUL sports car head on [you know with sleek lines and a chassis that almost touched the floor?] and as we passed it, I looked back to see what make it was and saw the Toyota logo and instantly, and thoughtlessly, went “Chey!” as if I was expecting at least a Porsche branding for THAT good-looking a car.
As if it being a Toyota somehow brought its function and reliability into question. [No offence to Toyota cars in general; I was surprised Toyota makes sports cars..]
As if the owner buying a good-looking sports car [implying his desire to have a good-looking sports car] but settling for a brand not really known for its sports car line spoke very deeply about his cheapskate character.
As if. How rude of me to judge someone like that.
I can’t explain it but I’m VERY VERY embarassed about that.

I always attributed looking up to brand names any more than necessary as a venture in shallow behaviour, to please oneself while drowning in the perception of envy from everyone else. Sure, a brand name initially started out as a marketing strategy because manufacturers thought that their logo would also mean a silent guarantee of the quality they pledged to provide. That was awesome. To take it a step further and start franchising is fine by me as well; the profits determine the direction of the business in most cases. But to start promoting their [usually expensive] products [esp if they’re luxury products] as essential, to boost or at least maintain your decency level in modern society is despicable. This kind of “be hip or don’t bother being” kinda marketing strategy is repulsive and unfortunately, successful.

Sure; comparing a Compaq PC and a DIY one [let’s just say, shall we?], then for a cautious buyer, the Compaq one would be the ideal compromise between performance AND reliability for the same amount of cash. Perhaps the Compaq one might be cheaper considering you get their warranties AND all the promotional bundled software. That is fine.
What’s the bloody difference between, say a Von Dutch T-shirt and a normal Thai local-industry-made T-shirt of similar quality and design but an astromonical difference in price? What is it about fashion that makes it so…popular?

Anyway, my take is, fashion becomes fashion because something original is seen as a new [and not necessarily good] look, and people think it’s unique and not everyone else might have the same look as that and go ahead and transform into that look. Which everyone else soon copies faster than a viral video gets distributed on the internet, and soon it’s not unique anymore and something new comes along and the same thing happens again. And the people still hanging on to the remanants of the previosu fad [yeah yeah that’s the word!] are referred to as outdated. People are NOT ideas. Clothes are not news. Neither can get outdated, per se.

From a name that should give a sense of comfort and assurance, it has become cause for bragging rights. And on the bragger’s part, it’s a perverse new form of advertising. Word-of-mouth? That’s sooo 20th century. Why get your product advertised by word-of-mouth when you can flash it prominently on your product WHEREVER and HOWEVER possible while making the user think it’s actually the reason that product is attractive in the first place. Imagine walking around like Ronald McDonald; that’s exactly what you’re doing, just in more popular costumes and advertising multiple products at the same time.

And what’s worse? Once branding drove the market to compete and give costumers best quality and best prices. It forced competitors to come up with creative and unique ideas to one-up each other in the customers’ eyes.
Now, it encourages the proliferation of imitators who follow blindly, hoping to bait wannabes on a budget. It allows companies to commit heinous crimes against creativity, passion and exclusivity; how else do you expalined overpricing on plain T-shirts with just a large version of the company logo, smack on the middle of the product? [I personally HATE apparel like that and don’t buy them.]

There’s a very obvious class rift because of it! Rich people get the most expensive hip things BECAUSE they’re expensive. Their wannabe friends see their new style, admire them and decide to imitate them. They either work their asses off and waste their pay on similar expensive stuff, OR they wait for prices to go down like vultures around a dying animal. Soon pretty much everyone starts wearing similar stuff, and the rich move on to something else, and the financially-challenged get strange looks if they’re unable to keep up with the changed trend as social outcasts.

It’s NOT just clothes. It’s everything from shoes to patronised restaurants, from gadgets to hobbies, from likes to bloody tastes! I thought your personality was supposed to decide how you choose to portray youself; not let your a generic mass-influenced personality archetype be portrayed by what you wear, use or do, regardless of whether your real, unique and genuine and ultimately worth-showing [No, I haven’t newly developed philanthropic tendencies; don’t mistake pity for love!] personality is really just being hidden or murdered violently.

Branded goods do not [and should not] define a lifestyle! They should represent intellectual property and exclusivity in terms of design, quality/or features. While a small price difference between a brand-less product of similar quality is understandable, it’d be a crime to be greedy and overcharge. Products should not be desirable BECAUSE they’re expensive or everyone else has them.

Quote from a stand-up comic I saw on TV a few years back: [not in exact words; my memory’s NOT eidetic!] They say what 1st World countries spend on food in one week can feed 3rd World countries for a year. I dunno what you think, I think we’re being overcharged! Relevant?

To consider this phenomenon and why it’s happening would be to realise that we don’t practise what we preach. “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”: its meaning doesn’t just cover the literal metaphor of books. We all know that, right? Or not?
It means, don’t stereotype armed with JUST shallow facts. It also implies that if everyone does that, one will not be stereotyped by anyone else, armed with JUST shallow facts about the things we are seen wearing, doing, using or saying without fully knowing why we’re doing what we’re doing.

Quote from Sandman: We do what we do because of who we are. If we did otherwise, we would not be ourselves.

So true.

Ironically, I have mixed views about the recently mentioned idiom. Sure, the book’s conent may far overwhelm the possibly horrible design [or lack thereof] but if the author and the publisher can’t even be bothered to promote their book nicely enough, then what message does that send me about what they think of their book’s content? I like cryptic titles and abstract designs on book covers.


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