By Spencer Yarnell Head of Spreading the Herd Word
Bruce Philp has got me thinking that responsible brand marketing can save the world.
Now before I talk about my Superpowers or about Bruce, let’s talk about brand marketing. I was saddened to realize the central nervous system of human knowledge (Wikipedia) did not have a definition so I’ll try to create my own. The idea of brand marketing is that a company markets its products on the strength of the company and its reputation as well as on the strength of the products themselves. Apple is an excellent example of this. There exists (many) people who will buy Apple’s new devices on the single fact alone that they believe in the quality of Apple’s products.
So now onto Bruce. Mr. Philp’s argument for brand marketing is pretty in depth, it comes from his book Consumer Republic, but I’ll give you the gist (While strongly encouraging you to dig in for more) The idea is this: Consumers exist and act as almost a force for democracy itself. When we buy a product we vote for that industry/product etc. However unlike real democracy and politics where people often make informed decisions people make uninformed decisions with the consumer votes because they are both themselves irresponsible consumers, and because information on the things products is scarce or not easily accessible at the right times, (ie. when I’m buying apples at the supermarket I can’t tell you off the top of my head and there is no available information to support which company I should buy apples from save employees of the store and the price tag.) We buy products that are supporting endeavours such as the destruction of the rainforest, wars in foreign countries etc. because we just don’t, and realistically can’t, know what we are voting for with our purchases. We just muddle through the best that we can.
Now I haven’t read his book yet (I intend to), only watched a few interviews but here’s what I see forming up from his ideas and the interviews I’ve watched.
Clear branding would provide us with context and some clarity. Think Apple again. Tons of people decided not to purchase Apple products after the incident at Chinese factories. Apple promised to clean up their act. People may argue whether it was effective or not but to some degree the consumers were able to hold the company responsible for its moral actions. It also works the other way. The Body Shop has gained much of its loyal following through its activist support of causes.
The idea is this: if all organizations associated their products with a clear single brand we could hold companies and organizations accountable for not only their moral actions but the quality of their goods as well. A major problem for this world right now is waste: would companies continue to build low quality product if their name was clearly displayed on all of them?
Of course for this to work it would require some discipline within consumers as well. Consumers have to realize that capitalism functions as a democracy and by our hundred years of voting uninformed we’ve been left with a fractured system that favours make money at all costs over quality.
Since much of the damage being done to the world and Earth is in the name of business having a capability to invoke responsibility on traditionally untouchable forces would be a powerful way to move towards a better future.
Now the last question: Why the heck does a payroll blog bring this up? I bring it up because I believe in the quality of the service IBEX provides. We don’t nickel and dime. We charge the price we need to provide the service, no more. I do believe there are other players in this industry who use their customer’s reliance on them to extort money. I believe that in a world of branding, and responsible consumer choice, this kind of extortion won’t exist. Idealist I know.
Obviously a major point to be made here is we are a long way from responsible consumerism. That being said you can see changes, look at how much Green marketing has appeared recently. Companies didn’t do that on their own, they did that because consumers demanded it. Think about it. I also strongly encourage you to check out some info on Bruce Philp’s stuff here. Also his website is here. Some very interesting and important thoughts on marketing and consumerism that everyone, marketer or consumer, needs to read including myself.