What Will Replace the Brand?

Over the past 25 years branding has flourished as the cultural keystone and pseudo-scientific discipline of choice for marketers everywhere. Hipster author, Douglas Haddow, is calling bullshit. Tell us what you think.

Branding

We will change the way information flows, the way we interact with the mass media, the way in which meaning is produced.

The monolithic notion of a “brand” – an infinitely dependable symbol of prosperity, happiness, comfort and security – is over. For nearly a century brands acted as the definitive medium through which we experienced capitalism. A brand’s strength came from its ability to transmit a consistently identical static message. Brands gave our reality a strong foundation: symbols dotting our mental and physical landscapes that we could use to navigate our way through life. But then brands began to show their age. They started to rust, chip, degrade, fall apart. All of a sudden brands cease to be the impenetrable fortresses of consumer relations we thought they were, and anyone could start a brand and do whatever he wanted with it. Gen X created flexible brands that catered to subterranean audiences, prompting Gen Y to embrace the idea of the “personal brand” - individuality expressed through a marketable system of identifiable signifiers.

And so these slick little icons – towering planets that represented entire universes of product experience – were slowly deconstructed to a point of irrelevance. Our daily lives are now inundated by a torrent of dead images and meaningless symbols from a bygone era, leaving us with one very important question to answer: What’s next?

Douglas Haddow