Brand vs. Reputation

A few years ago I came across an interesting book called “No Logos” and wanted to revisit it to see if I still disagreed with it as much as I did the first time.:)


Naomi – “This book is hinged on a simple hypothesis: that as more people discover the brand-name secrets of the global logo web, their outrage will fuel the next big political movement, a vast wave of opposition squarely targeting transnational corporations, particularly those with very high name-brand recognition.”

Dave – The key words in that sentence are “the brand-name secrets”. I think what she should be more clear about here is that what she feels will fuel the political movement isn’t the brand or brands – it is how the companies that manage those brands produce their products.

Naomi – “I had been doing some research on university campuses and had begun to notice that many of the students I was meeting were preoccupied with the inroads private corporations were making into their public schools. They were angry that ads were creeping into cafeterias, common rooms, even washrooms;”

Dave – As media becomes increasingly decentralized and it becomes painfully obvious that no one is listening anymore to traditional media (can you say TiVo?) marketers are chomping at the bit to find where they can reach you at a time that their message is relevant and you’ll actually listen. I think the students were upset that the ads weren’t relevant to them, not that the ads represented corporate inroads into their schools. If the ads were relevant and added value I don’t think they’d mind. 

Naomi – “They also had serious ethical concerns about the practices of some of the corporations that their schools were becoming entangled with – not so much their on-campus activities, but their practices far away, in countries like Burma, Indonesia and Nigeria.”

Dave – What Naomi Klein is talking about is transparency. It’s not about a logo, or a brand.The swoosh, the shell, and the golden arches are logos, trustmarks that help me recognize a product. Naomi is talking about a companies reputation and ethos – not a brand. A brand, in short, is the emotions associated with particular product based on experience, Word of Mouth, etc. A reputation refers to the company; not the product. How the company operates, treats vendors, employees, the community and environment determine its reputation. The emotions and perceptions associated with the product determine the brand.

Human rights violations, unethical business practices, animal cruelty, and poor environmental stewardship impact a company’s reputation – not the brand. Consumers may still have a positive brand experience with a product manufactured unethically.

The trend that Naomi saw was transparency. And I’d have to agree. (and that may be the only thing we agree on) Probably the most resisted and powerful trend in recent years is the demand of transparency. So much so that Clay Shirkey of McKinsey & Company called transparency the “new marketing”. 

What do you think?


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