Instead of a “Brand” think “Tattoo”

Cow with Company BrandsBack in the Old West, ranchers used to brand cattle to indicate ownership since cows look pretty much the same except to another cow.  The “brand” was the primary mark of differentiation.  Today we think of “branding” in much the same way, as a means of permanent identification.  

Now fast-forward 150 years and let’s update branding from the days of the Old West to the current era.  Companies brand themselves, their products, their services so their audience can easily and immediately identify them, remember them and what they stand for in graphic terms. 

Today it has become increasingly common for people to self-brand themselves by applying graphics, in the form of tattoos which has become the permanent identification technique for a generation.  Instead of cows being tied up and held down against their will while a painful hot iron is held against their skin, those who get tattoos do so by choice.

Many, if not most products are undistinguished (and are close to indistinguishable) from their competitors except for marketing techniques, such as branding, that are used to communicate virtues such as perceived value and quality.  I seriously doubt whether most people could distinguish the company that produces a sneaker if the logo (think Nike “Swoosh” or the New Balance “N”) were torn off or covered.  A product or service is branded to communicate those attributes and a great deal of effort, time, and money is invested in the process.   

Let’s update the branding process and make it more relevant to our century.  Companies that have a strong brand are able to get their customers to volunteer to be one of their advertising mediums using tee shirts, caps, bumper stickers, and yes, even tattoos to identify themselves with their favored product or company.  To a certain extent, the customer’s brain is tattooed with the self-identified cult status of the favored product.  This takes a strong and sustained effort to affect the tattoo on the brain, but once it’s done, like a skin tattoo, it is permanent and well worth the effort.  

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