Authority and availability

Companies continually are attempting to impart authority and availability.

In order to make that known, they have brand names to remind customers how to identify their products. However, sceptical millennials, those born from the early 1980s to the first part of this century, are unlikely to accept the value of the brand name as such.

The advertising industry is in the midst of a very difficult era. There is a proliferation of new ways to get a message across to the public, but also how to counter this age of mass disillusionment and cynicism. Consumers are hounded with brand names for everything from automobiles to medical remedies.

There are so many false claims and deceptive advertising that the public is disinclined to pay close attention to brand names.

When a brand name is repeated so many times, the public views those commercials as almost anathema, simply turning off most of us. In addition, given modern technology, users of smart phones can make their own decision about the safety of a product or if it is as good a bargain as claimed.

Havas Media, a large marketing agency, reported that interest in brand names has been in a secular decline. Among people questioned, mainly in North America and Europe, little attention is paid to brand names or their presumed qualities. In Latin America and Asia, where people have been less exposed to media overkill, attachment and interest in brand names has been much more persistent.

Deceptive advertising has been so chronic that the brand name no longer conveys as much as formerly. Authoritative figures, like medical doctors or sports stars, are employed to reinforce a message. Companies clearly are trying unique ways to deliver their message. “Earned media” or word of mouth recommendation from family-like individuals or if possible from news sources such as medical journals, are highly prized; their authenticity wins converts.

Comments on social media, such as those from presumably objective observers, are exploited as much as possible. For instance, crash tests of cars are worth more than traditional paid media. It must be acknowledged that there are some memorable, easily recognized brands. Coca-Cola has been around for such a long time that the brand name automatically has some value and implies reliability.

Too, a few brand names are almost synonymous with an entire product – such as Kleenex for paper tissues or Xerox for photocopies – which are ideal situations.

Still, there is a pronounced shift away from brand names, with the public increasingly ignoring labels in favour of generic foods, greatly reducing cynicism.



Bruce Whitestone