Branding

16 Nov 2021
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I am doing a course on Future Learn on ‘The Secret power of Brands’. Power it is – thousands of people, millions of pounds, to discover how to part us from our money to buy product ‘x’ or ‘y’. The word ‘brand’ comes from old Norse, to burn’ Traditionally to mark your property, be it cow, handle of pick axe, or burn the name of your house on a piece of wood with a hot poker. I quote the course “It fills psychological needs; love, belonging, affiliation, achievement”. It could also be used to label, to stigmatise. War victims in concentration camps were marked for life by numbers on their fore-arms.

I was ‘branded’ the other day – and am questioning if I am getting ‘touchy’. I was in a hotel in Windsor, spoke to a few people. Then a couple just leaving came up to me – the lady “I said to my husband, we must speak to the old lady before we leave”. I was shocked, stupid, I know I am old. But never think age (other than being able to remember the war, austerity etc.) I have friends and acquaintances of all colours, creeds, nationalities, ages – they are just ‘people’. I felt I had been put into a category, and did not like it. The same week, another lady of ripe years (9 more than me), our Queen, had politely but firmly refused to be chosen as ‘The Oldie of the Year’ by that magazine.

On the course, we have an ‘assignment’, what ‘Brands’ mean to us. I thought of adverts or slogans which were etched on my memory (doubt if I ever bought the products) and why they were noticeable. ‘If you want to get ahead, get a hat’ (in the tube yonks ago). Then ‘superiority’, Burberry or Barbours, associated with the upper classes. The tutor showed four ties, all silk, two from markets £10 each, two from Libertys, £100 each. It was claimed that although the Liberty tie wearer did not show the label he ‘felt good’ because he could spend £100 on a tie. ‘Persil washes whiter’ (line of white nappies, ergo you were a better Mum). ‘What your right arm’s for’ (beer, did not notice brand). ‘Something happens after a Badedas bath’ (dashing man on white horse coming up drive). One could go on, it’s a fun game.

But I am feeling serious concern about the ‘power’ of advertising. Not just in the paper or commercial channels of our TV’s. It is insidious, manipulative, leads to jealousy, this wretched ‘street cred’, spending more than you can afford so your kids won’t feel deprived in the playground. Some companies, notably Coca Cola and Monsanto are always being sued. Many of the accusations are that they actually harm health. Some parts of India have banned Coca Cola. Monsanto gets rid of dodgy chemicals on poor countries. But they continue, getting richer – because they throw so much money in their ‘defence’ that nobody is powerful enough to make anything ‘stick’. Do you get cross/ignore ads? We’re impotent, I know.

The Gardener

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

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Comments

Orangeblossom

Nov. 16, 2021, 7:26 a.m.

Thanks for your blog TG. I dislike the present trend to buy designer labels but can’t afford them anyway. But dislike more forcefully the cult of the celebrity which is another form of branding. People worship at its shrine. I am totally unimpressed. Hope that you continue to enjoy your course with Future Learn.

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The Gardener

Nov. 16, 2021, 9:25 a.m.

Thanks OB. A d-in-law likes (and wears) Paul Smith clothes. I have heard of him. She always looks smart, in a subdued way. I find his clothes cost a fortune - always hope my son can keep up the expense. Perhaps I am jealous? No way. And how do you know (other than like conoscenti) that it IS a Paul Smith dress.

Sally

Nov. 16, 2021, 7:57 a.m.

Thank you for your blog, TG. I don’t like brand snobs, I think it harms our young people too. “Sad shoes” levelled at some poor unfortunate by their peers, if they come in wearing “ordinary” shoes! What sort of society are we turning into, that equates ok/ not ok with the power and display of money! It was always thus, but just got worse..... Having said that, I realise where we shop, M&S, Aldi , Waitrose, Tesco.....wherever ..., already marks us out . “ Ooh, she’s dead posh”, our S.W. consultant announces, “ She shops at M&S!” Squirm, squirm.... Loyalty cards: I don’t subscribe as I shop where I please. I’m a maverick I suppose ....

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The Gardener

Nov. 16, 2021, 9:42 a.m.

See below for the truth behind the snobbishness!

Tutti Frutti

Nov. 16, 2021, 9:43 a.m.

Hi Sally I was advised by one friend to buy my daughter some designer clothes for mufti day as soon as she heard which secondary school we had chosen. I might have even followed her advice if my daughter hadn't been so physically small aged 11 that there was nothing to fit her. I am so glad that I didn't because my daughter was absolutely fine in standard cheap high street brands and none of her friends seemed to care. And I don't think my daughter has ever bought herself anything designer even though she has bought all her own clothes for a fair few years now. (And I certainly don't have designer clothes myself.) Love TF x

Moodie

Nov. 16, 2021, 11:05 p.m.

'undesigned' clothes haha

Sally

Nov. 16, 2021, 7:59 a.m.

Little old lady : I’m not little, so unlikely to have that term attributed to me. At 69 1/2, am I old? Yes and no . Don’t feel itthough.

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The Gardener

Nov. 16, 2021, 9:27 a.m.

I think I may have been 'touchy'. But she did not need to say it - we had spoken previously - she could have just come over and said 'Good-bye'.

Jul

Nov. 16, 2021, 8:52 a.m.

Hello Gardener I think many countries show more genuine respect for older people than the British. I would feel so affronted if I was referred to verbally as an old woman or any description! Did you say anything? One of our French neighbours, a man, said to me recently that age doesn't alter one's physical attractiveness. If we are attractive when young it continues throughout life. I came away feeling so good. All my life I've been conditioned to think that age makes women and some men invisible, ugly,sexually unattractive and relegated to the far corner of society. The upshot of my conditioned thinking is branding. Advertisers target the insecurities of older people especially those who care about their appearance. Of course everyone whatever age is affected by branding as you say Gardener. What is so annoying is that advertisers think they know us or group us as one. Individuality is not allowed. I am still shocked by those rude people in the hotel in Windsor Gardener. Jul xx

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Bearofliddlebrain

Nov. 16, 2021, 8:59 a.m.

I agree with you Jul, how rude of those people in ‘Windsor’. How very dare they! Mind you, I have noticed that I am being treated slightly differently now that the schparkles cover the whole of my head!! But I don’t care! I love my varying colours of grey hair! Love Bear x x x

The Gardener

Nov. 16, 2021, 9:31 a.m.

Hello Jul - I try to stress that I do not make comparisons too often between the two countries. UK much more ageist and racist. Here a frequently used phrase of affection is 'Ma petite dame' (my little lady) I am taller than most locals and much more solidly built! xx

Moodie

Nov. 16, 2021, 10:59 p.m.

I do not agree on your comparison of France and Uk re racism but you may be right on age-ism.

Bearofliddlebrain

Nov. 16, 2021, 8:56 a.m.

Morning TG, Isn’t it strange when talking of brands, I first thought of the go-to names we grew up with: the "beanz, means Heinz", Daddies sauce, HP, the Esso tiger, Green Shield stamps!!! Then I thought of ‘branding’ and you mentioned war victims - and suddenly I felt so very sad. I’m not a fan of tattoos (sorry folks who love them) are they ‘branding themselves’ to be part of a tribe? The other ‘brandings’ I thought of were animals or being branded/named for some misdemeanour….branded a thief etc. When I look at what people wear, I find I want to look smart, but when I have bought something that is a wee bit expensive (especially a beautiful white shirt that I saved up for) I was terrified of wearing it, because I tend to lean against things or spill drink/food down the front - a devil to get the stains out!!! We’ve grown up with advertising and it’s pernicious power, it has always been around for us: at school, I had hand me down plimsolls, other kids had trainers etc. but to be honest, we lived out in the sticks, so I wasn’t as aware of what the ‘cool kids’ were wearing going out and about around the town at the weekends, it wasn’t on my radar. Mum also instilled in us, that with five of us, we had to be careful how the money was spent. It only mattered on rare occasions. The trouble with big companies like Coca Cola, Monsanto et al, they put profits to shareholders above the consumer. What the products they produce are doing to people can be seen by the awful epidemic of obesity. They sponsor events and give freebies away - and people lap it up…literally. Same goes for all chemically-produced foodstuffs. If you are a vegetarian - you don’t need a made-up sausage of goodness knows what is in there to make it ‘look’ like a sausage - eat real food and be truly healthier. Because it is cheap, these manufacturers put in wheat, terrible oils etc to help bind the food together - that is why many of us are ill. Get rid of the rubbish and we start to feel betterer! Soz, rant over!! Years ago, I worked as an advertising sales manager - hated it - but it paid well and I was a more gentle seller - not for me the pushy, pushy type of selling. On my training course, we were told "People buy people, first". So if you were good at selling yourself, you could sell almost anything. It was during my work then, that I had my eyes opened to the power of advertising! I’m grateful we have so much choice, and the way a new product is sold is mostly by advertising - it has to be ‘sold’ somehow and that is either by word of mouth or advertising. {I’m also grateful that we record programmes so we can whizz through the ad breaks ;-)) } Especially annoying are the whining ads on the radio! Makes me switch channels for five mins whilst they’re on! The whining Vodafone woman is a pet hate!!! Now, who remembers the Milk Tray ad or the Gold Blend ad?? ….What was this about ‘Badedas? Maybe I need to buy that if there’s a chance of a chap on a horse appearing!! Ha ha ha! Keep learning TG - you’re incredible! Love and Bear hugs x x x

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The Gardener

Nov. 16, 2021, 9:21 a.m.

Thanks Bear - you are incredible how fast your thoughts run then get put into words. You talk about wide 'choice'. I did the commercial history of our town - then an Appendix on 'Who owns Whom'. Often, a favourite brand is just one of hundreds owned by the same company. And 'All because the lady loved Milk Tray'. Man climbing a rope?? xx

Jul

Nov. 16, 2021, 1:53 p.m.

I agree Bear about the vegetarian made up sausages! Jul. xx

Bearofliddlebrain

Nov. 16, 2021, 10:17 p.m.

Lol, Jul - why bother? Call it something else!! (Laughing out loud emoji!!!). TG, I think there were different Milk Tray ads, on boats, climbing down ropes….!! Bear x x x

Helen

Nov. 16, 2021, 11:13 p.m.

Vegetarian/vegan anything, really annoys me: sausages, burgers, even bacon for f.s.! Shepherds pie, cottage pie etc etc are made with meat. I don't have an issue with people deciding they don't want to eat meat, but do it properly & don't 'pretend' you are still eating meat by eating such heavily processed none foods that probably aren't as healthy and certainly aren't as tasty as the thing they are failing to be! Grr

mandy

Nov. 16, 2021, 8:58 a.m.

I found this thoroughly fascinating. I am also very interested in big business and how it manipulates. For my dissertation I wrote about how post war photography helped to cement cultural identity. That too was hugely manipulative and has a long standing effect on populations. There is something insidiously immoral about it all. The talons of power are sometimes hard to shake off. Thanks for taking the time to write this. I am in the process of creating my own brand Flockless But Free which I hope will throw all that the associations of power out the window.

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The Gardener

Nov. 16, 2021, 9:33 a.m.

Best of luck with your brand, Mandy. Depressing for advertisers. We had a 'parlour game' after Christmas. Cut well known ads out of the papers, and remove the actual brand name, make people guess who it was. High percentage could not - so much for the power of advertising.

Teg

Nov. 16, 2021, 9:10 a.m.

Good morning TG Thanks for the post. We are a Brand. We are the Moodscope brand! And our message is a powerful one. We help people who are struggling with their mental health. I don't like ads and avoid them wherever possible. They epitomise our materialistic world. I mute the TV during the ad breaks. Good, interesting post for an old lady. Only joking!

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The Gardener

Nov. 16, 2021, 9:37 a.m.

Hello Teg. Something has to keep me going as I go downhill to 90. Found a 'book swap' read 2 since last Tuesday, plus fascinating and intricate knitting designs. Ads are here to stay - I find it is the insidiousness competiteveness that gets me - and the follow-my-leader attitude, or you are not 'cool'.

Moodie

Nov. 16, 2021, 11:03 p.m.

yep advertising prolly goes back to ancient sumerians haha ... ooh book swap! Hope you those 2 were goodies ... happing knitting!

Kate

Nov. 16, 2021, 9:10 a.m.

Great blog thank you. I too hate big organisations - the scourge of humanity. They would be classed as psychopaths if human. They get as much money out of us before killing us with their dodgy products, have no guilt or remorse, tell lies about their product, delusions of grandeur wanting to become ever bigger and more successful. It is in fact a machine. I particularly hate the adverts right now that depict the consumer (us) as some benign cuddly animal or creature - this is how big companies want us to be - compliant uncomplaining. Also the sickly sweet ads where they are telling us how much good they are doing for charity or the world - sort of immoral jumping on that bandwagon. I hate them Grrr….

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The Gardener

Nov. 16, 2021, 9:41 a.m.

Thanks Kate, I used to do a bit of investigative journalism. Dutch mushrooms sold before British, they were whiter. I found out the Dutch used a product which was untracebale after crossing the sea, banned UK. I wanted to expose it - my editor sat on me - his journal was kept alive by Dutch advertising!

Moodie

Nov. 16, 2021, 11:09 p.m.

putting me off white mushrooms!

The Gardener

Nov. 16, 2021, 9:47 a.m.

Sally, above, remarked about the 'snobbishness' of shopping at Marks or Waitrose. I was doing a piece on Spain, and was in Valencia where they produce rather a lot of oranges. There was a major strike, I wanted to investigate. Mr G was horrified, my daring to enter a hall with 700 angry Spaniards. Bless him, he came in with me. Everybody wanted to talk, and when the packing station re-opened we were invited to visit. Millions of oranges came down the belts. On the side were little nets with the labels of all the major supermarkets. The same oranges went into all the bags. But they would have cost more at above-named emporiums (lovely word) and you would have been brain-washed into thinking that Marks oranges were better/higher quality. Cont

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The Gardener

Nov. 16, 2021, 9:53 a.m.

I promise I won't write a treatise, but it is a fascinating subject. We have a Carrefour and a Lidl in our town. I love mangoes, the same fruit will be 1,99 eeuros at Carrefour and 1,39 at Lidl. The latter has a very fast turnover, you have to pounce on your favourites. This also means that you have to watch date limit very carefully at Carrefour, their shelf management is not of the best. I am no grumbler, but twice I have had to ask them to take meat products which had reached sell-by dates off the shelves. Many people, poor sight or can't find the date anyway are in danger of buying out of date food.Don't know if I made an impression, they now have special display of products at much reduced prices to be consumed quickly.

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Norman

Nov. 16, 2021, 10:33 a.m.

Bon jour ma petite Gardener, The purpose of advertising is to create dissatisfaction, which can only be satisfied by you purchasing the product, which of course rarely satisfies except on an ephemeral basis. I often wonder what has changed in society that depression is now so common. I think the answer lies in the billions of £€$ spent on making us dissatisfied. From this comes the feelings of inadequacy and failure, especially when it comes to providing for children, which may account for a large part of women being more prone to depression. The typical advertising family of two middle-class adults and their squeaky-clean kids is not the reality for poor people, singles, and those who can't or decide not to have children. So by implication all these groups are made to feel inadequate. When did you see an advert featuring a middle-aged single-by-choice person? As an environmentalist I believe that car advertising should be banned, as all it does is establish car driving as "normal" and even desirable, when it is anything but. Having said all that when my son was in his teens I saw "Caterpillar" boy's clothing and footwear. Caterpillar make tractors and earth-moving machinery. Brand values: strong, robust, durable. Even though they were more expensive, I invested in coats and shoes, which did indeed give him good service: (and some one-upmanship with his mates) see how it works?

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The Gardener

Nov. 16, 2021, 10:44 a.m.

Thanks Norman - I think advertising has changed over the decades - more sophisticated, sure. But where the manufacturers just wanted you to buy THEIR product rather than Joe Bloggs the emphaisis, as you stress, is playing on people's self esteem. 'Keeping up with the Joneses' has gone viral. Where did it start in the first place?

The Gardener

Nov. 16, 2021, 10:52 a.m.

Could not resist 'Googling' it. Loads entries, films, comic strips. Found an ad - you can become a 'Lord' or 'Lady' for $49.95 buying a tiny bit of Scotland, and get a certificate making you noble!

The Gardener

Nov. 16, 2021, 11:23 a.m.

Like the greeting! I am the gardening 'Ambassador' here.

Norman

Nov. 16, 2021, 11:46 a.m.

Le petit jardinier...

Paul

Nov. 16, 2021, 7:44 p.m.

Hi young lady gardener a bit late to the party today. Thank you for today’s blog I don’t have much to add but what does really frustrate me is when celebrities advertise products. I think think is totally wrong. Currently in england we have Eamon Holmes advertising equity release while making a cup of tea looking all smug. He also advertises funeral plans. I’m sure there are many vunerable elderly folk that think if Eamon is saying it’s good let’s do it. Rant over Paul

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Moodie

Nov. 16, 2021, 10:48 p.m.

Wow interesting post. Agree with Paul - actors and celebs should not appear in ads ... if we ruled the world haha. Trust me, I'm an actor/ celeb? I'm always worried about being branding/ putting myself/others into an 'identity box'. My father was branded as a child in a concentration camp - he said it was extremely painful to remove and many did not for that and perhaps other reasons. This put me off tats [tattoos] although can see this as individual right to self-brand/ beautify it's a bit erm permanent!... also there's piercings ... self identification ... tribalism ... tradition eg Navy/South Pacific Islanders Branding of products is fair enough so we can easily identify what we want or don't want to buy or be associated with, be it CocaCola, Apple or Moodscope. Advertising often does build on dissatisfaction - take away your natural self respect/love for the price of some trendy logo or expensive acquisition but it need not. Obvs I will not comment on Moodscope haha. Seriously, though - if the product is what you want and they can build a reputation over time then I'm not against it. If the product/service is/becomes poor then at least you know what to avoid? My bank with the horse sticking a rainbow on their door did not fool me into thinking they would give good service today - in fact it teed me off! The lady in there is lovely as it happens. Hopefully my money is safe but ya never know!

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Valerie

Nov. 17, 2021, 11:20 a.m.

Late in the day TG.I would be deflated and hurt by the comment "old lady",and think they must be quite ignorant people to say that.I hate Ads. We usually watch stuff on Catch up,so skip the wretched things.I know parents who put themselves in debt to buy the latest "must-have" for the kids. One ad I especially loathed was Shredded Wheat-"There are two men in my life,to one I am a mother to the other I'm a wife,and I give them both the best with natural Shredded Wheat" Ugh! ***

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Moodie

Nov. 17, 2021, 9:49 p.m.

yes im old enough to remember that one too Valerie... def a ugh!

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