Media has been announcing the demise of the brand for some time. Most recently both the The New Yorker (Twilight of the Brands) and The Economist have entered the fray. The New Yorker posits that company brands once stood for “proxies of quality” to help consumers determine whether a product was reliable or not. Both stories suggest that consumers can now read realms of research about whatever they want to buy, citing a PricewaterhouseCoopers study that “found that eighty percent of consumers look at online reviews before making major purchases.”
Consumer skepticism is a major theme in this debate particularly as it relates to paid media – making a great case for third party endorsements. (No surprise here for those of us in public relations.) The Economist reports that “skepticism and sophistication are especially pronounced among those born since the early 1980s.” Wish they would tell that to all the iPhone and Macbook addicts I know.
On that subject, would someone please explain to me why, when Apple has a major security flaw, it shows up as a ho hum story on page B12 of the Globe – not even a mention in the other papers. Meanwhile Blackberry is dissed at every turn despite its really superior security platform. What is it with Canadian media? I admit it, I believe in supporting the local talent, but honestly if the iPhone isn’t a fashion badge, what is it? I think I blogged not too long ago about all the people that carry the iPhone for show while their Blackberry does all the work.
The New Yorker suggests that with brand equity at an all time low, social media means that if you build a better mousetrap consumers will soon find out about it. Tell that to Blackberry 😉 In any case, I would advise companies not to count their brands out just yet. Ways of building brand value may be changing, but that doesn’t make brands irrelevant. Watch for the next chapter!