“There is no difference between a Brand and a product”. In fact when there is, that’s when the trouble starts. So why are there so many “Brand” firms, advertising and consulting, that can’t understand the first thing about actually making a product, doing so well. They can make graphics and project images. Sure. Buit if you believe in the experience. If that is what counts, and creates re-use anjd re-purchase, how we feel about the result of actually using a product or service. That’s when the walk meets the talk.

Unfortunately, propaganda has always ruled the universe. Brand is the descriptive word used by Wall Street. Product is the word used by the rest of the food chain.

The skill you bring to creating propaganda around a product is highly valued in the war to influence the consumers desire. It is what gets them to buy.

It is only after the purchase, where the experience and appreciation of design can occur. This is often construed as banal when trying to add value to the importance of design. So don’t waste your breath.

Ask yourself what is the first brand that you remember desiring. Probably some sort of garment maybe. It wasn’t about the covering of the naked body, it was about feeling good about advertising to others that you have something that makes you appear smart and intelligent. Showing off the brand of shoes or brand of sweaters or whatever.

Brand becomes the agent of trust between the consumer and those that make the profits. The product is just the vehicle of that trust.

Another such example is how BMW automobiles are purchased and driven by a certain type of mentality or person. (we all know what BMW drivers are like) BMW is propagandized as a sleek high end product that will bring you status and high perferformance if you are able appreciate such engineering. (most BMW drivers cannot because they are so young) The reality is BMWs drive and perform analogous to a child entering its teenage years. Springy, bouncy, quick, nimble, fast all are descriptives that propaganda artists can mask with other such images of high status, sleek, sexy, luxurious etc in order to make the sale at retail. There is nothing smooth or mature about BMWs.

The BMW brand chose to compare its new 6 series to the smooth high performance Jaguar XK during its developement in order to appeal to a more sophisticated driver with more refined sensibilities as a driver. In trying to woo drivers away from the prestige and sophistication that Jaguar provides its customers, BMW aims at improving on these cues in order to make a better brand delivery vehicle. Through propaganda films, BMW is able to show the potential customer just how superior their new brand delivery vehicle is when comparred to a Jag. The design guys at BMW are just merely creating a thing that can communicate such values that the propaganda artist is offering to the consumer.

So…better to understand the value of propaganda during the design process, is the designer who will create something that Wall Street will get behind and champion to the masses for them to consume more of…

Before we all get on the brand-bashing wagon, yes, the product needs to live up to the talk. My question for all the brand haters is why does a Sony TV command a price premium over every other brand with the exact same features? Is it better than a Philips or Samsung? No, but the perception is there about the brand. A brand is to distinguish itself from the competition that is making the same thing - just like all cows look the same. My favorite example is Volvo, known for being the “safest” car. The fact is, it isn’t. Mercedes usually does the best with crash tests. Volvo is still a very innovative with safety features and long ago decided it couldn’t compete as the luxuary or performance leader. Is there any other reason to buy one? My point is brand has a function, it is not just blather (it just seems that way most of the time).

Well the premium comes with owning areas like “sleek” and “safe” and “tech” first. Sony did not always have the cache it has currently earned and neither did Samsung. Earning trust is difficult but once you have earned it, even status quo products can suffice because customers pay for the trust.

Single products are an aspect of brand. Brand can seperate from single products because you have to apply a common vision to multiple SKUs and industries. Products have visual cues that can be shifted by brand stories (really- the Ipod could be steered quite a few ways separate from the story that Apple developed for it).

Simple color shifts by themselves (yuck) can have effects on sales if that ties in with the brand. But you have to build trust. And that starts with a baseline of good product (delivered first for best effect).

I’m going to agree with lab,

Isn’t the blather just so much noise and aren’t there ways that define the brand promise, most inportantly the experience, the truth of the matter?

How long today. with blogs and global communication, can one keep pulling the wool or the eyes of the consumer?