That seems like a grand claim. Like something a branding guru would say as they set you up in order to sell you something familiar dressed up to look different. I’m no guru, and I’m certainly not prescient enough to see a new era if we’re really in the early stages of one. It’s just a hypothesis I have, and is one of the primary reasons I set up this blog – to explore what’s happening on the edges of branding and see if that constitutes a new era or simply, business as usual.
I’m probably tipping my hand with the name of my blog. Because I do believe that branding is changing and will change significantly in the next 10 years. Old rules of thumb will get overturned. New rules of thumb will be created. Some rules of traditional branding will still be true, but will be applied differently. It will be (heck, is) a period of enormous experimentation in marketing and it will take time to sort out the long-term successes and failures.
People say that branding is dead. That branding was a tactic created to exploit the information arbitrage between consumers and manufacturers. That with access to all the data now available in people’s smart phones, brands can no longer play fast and loose with facts, ingredients, claims, promises, pricing. That the clear eye of information will cut through all the marketing haze and will render branding’s magic null and void. Poof. It’s been a fun ride, but th-that’s all folks.
But humans have been using brands for 10,000 years. Don’t take my word for it. Anthropologists have determined that symbols on ancient commodities probably functioned much like logos do on today’s products. So, perhaps what everyone is reacting to isn’t the death of branding, but the demise of branding as we know it– the only kind of branding that any of us alive have known if we assume this era has been underway for some time. I believe the new era of branding will have much in common with what I imagine the earliest era of branding was like while, in some critical ways, looking very different from today’s branding.
As I said, that’s what I’m hoping to explore both in this blog and eventually in a book. If branding is really dying, then perhaps this will be its obituary. But if branding is simply going through a transformation rather than its death throes, future marketers will need to know which branding rules still apply, which rules will change, and which rules will spell disaster in this new era of branding.