by Ayodotun Osunkojo
If we could tune out the rat race life’s busyness, for a short while, we would notice something rather curious around us, something amazing even.
Lurking in our bathrooms, kitchens, offices, schools, clubs, on the streets, on the radio, cars, BlackBerries and indeed everywhere are these multi-coloured, multi-dimensional phenomena. We see them when sleep, eat, read, think, work, play, drive. They won’t leave us alone. There are millions of them; some mean nothing to us, and others mean everything.
Brands: the culprits; the leeches, our relentless stalkers. Think about it. You wake up in the morning, jolted awake by your Sony alarm clock or your Blackberry phone, you jump out of your duvet from Ikea and head for the bathroom to pick your Formula toothbrush and use your Colgate toothpaste, and then you reach for your Irish Spring soap. You slap on some Nivea moisturizer and shrug on the Phillips -ironed Hawes & Curtis Shirt and John Rocha Jeans, slip into your Nine West Heels and grab the Swatch (need I tell you what item that is?). You’re all dressed now, so you head for your BMW car, before realizing you left your Apple laptop in the house.
When you hit the road and switch on the radio, MTN is offering some exciting freebies, and so is Airtel, by the way. Nescafe is wishing you good morning too. At the office you switch on your Dell Computer and proceed to review your e-mails. At lunch, you have the option of going to Chicken Republic, Sweet Sensation or Tantalisers. By close of business the cycle continues, especially if on your way home you stop to pick up your dry-cleaning from Garment Care. Don’t you dare watch TV tonight, it’s a Samsung!
Lets carry out an exercise, shall we? Look up from your computer or your phone right now and look around you – you’re bound to catch a glimpse of specific colours; detect a distinct whiff of something or feel something in your environment. Tell me what you see. I can bet my life savings, that you will name up to 10 brands of a myriad of items in your environment. Even if you refuse to carry out this exercise, you will suffer the same fate unwittingly, there’s no escaping it.
From childhood to maturity, we interact with brands and make decisions to purchase and use these brands. From the diapers our parents purchased when we were babies, to the cars we purchase upon graduation, brands are indispensible elements of our existence. They meet our needs: for comfort, for acceptance, for survival, for health, for an infinite variety of things. Just in case you did not know, a brand may be described as “a distinguishing name and/or symbol (such as a logo, trade-mark, or package design) intended to identify the goods or services of either one seller or a group of sellers, and to differentiate those goods or services from those of competitors” (Aaker,1991). Yes, even services are brands, silly!
Even you are a brand. What type of brand are you? You need to know, if you are going to sell yourself to your target audiences: a prospective client or employer, a future spouse, or your network of associations. Who are you? What do you stand for? What needs are you meeting? What do people say about you?
Every brand and indeed everyone is known for something, what are you known for?