A meaningful badge

As far back as the Middle Ages craftsmen used badges to distinguish their products, implying their quality.

Still, that does not always work.

Thus, Johnson and Johnson was sued for $72 million by a customer who claimed that the talcum powder she purchased led to her cancer. 

That, of course, was only the most recent example of a consumer’s question of the reliability of a product. Companies frequently have told about their products’ brand names and of merits and authenticity of their merchandise, “guaranteed” by the name.

There are many kinds of products where the brand name has become synonymous with the article itself. 

For instance, tissues usually are called Kleenex even if they are produced by some company other than Kimberly-Clark.  Kodak has become almost the name for photographs or Xerox for photocopies.

When a manufactured article has become almost the same as a brand name, there are advantages and disadvantages. A brand name usually entails a premium price compared to a generic name. Depending on the customer’s perspective, the additional price may be worth the additional cost. Too often, however, the generic article is inferior. 

Louis Vuitton or Coach handbags command additional prices, and customers make a point of displaying the brand names. Marketing firms value products that carry brand names much more highly than no-name with similar merchandise.

About half of consumers say that they trust branded products for quality compared to about one-half of others with no recognized name.

During a scandal involving tainted meat, Maple Leaf suffered no lasting damage as they promptly repaid for the poor meat. Johnson and Johnson went to great lengths to ensure that their Tylenol was protected by a plastic top with a new fool-proof constraint. The company was absolved of all guilt.

Some names are retained even if they lack logic. The New Democratic Party clearly no longer is so. The Progressive Conservative Party in Ontario is known no longer as progressive, so the federal counterpart has dropped that label.

When purchasing jewelry, the name Tiffany provides assurance to the general public. Beer almost doubled their market by advertising a well-known U.S. brand name. Apple seems able to charge premium for their computers compared to lesser-known competitors. It is noteworthy about the automobile, where hitherto Japanese cars were considered more reliable than North American ones. Now it is assumed that cars here have greatly improved so the foreign-named ones no longer seem more valuable.

Many still rely on brand names, perhaps unjustifiably.

It may be the result of being brainwashed, even when a premium price is involved.



Bruce Whitestone