Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fear of Branding

Possibly the main reason more people don't include design education in their curriculum is they just don't like it. They associate design with commercialization, materialism, consumerism, advertising, marketing, and branding. And they associate those things with lying, cheating, and trickery.

So, when it comes right down to it, the main reason people don't teach more design is not lack of knowledge, nor lack of skill, but, more critically, simply a bad attitude or disposition toward design. This is probably most clearly evident when we talk about a major aspect of design called "branding".

A brand is a collection of images and ideas representing a business, industry, service or other economic producer. More specifically, it refers to the concrete symbols such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme. Brand recognition is created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or service, both directly relating to its use, and through the influence of advertising, design, and media commentary.

In non-commercial contexts, the marketing of entities which supply ideas or promises rather than product and services (e.g. political parties or religious organizations) may also be known as "branding".

Skeptics claim to be uninfluenced or impervious to branding. They often feel that branding (of a presidential candidate, for example) can bring more recognition and celebrity than is deserved. They see branding (and advertising in general) as tricks and illusions to mislead, conceal and seduce. Brand managers and advertisers know that the easiest people to influence are those who think they can't be influenced. The best protection is to admit the power of branding and to learn how and when it occurs and why it works.

Click on the heading above to see a book by Rob Walker called "Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are."

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