The reason why I wanted to cover week 4 more than 3 was that I find authenticity & place branding an interesting topic.
I feel that in today’s society the image of authenticity in branding is essential even for the shopper on a budget. That might be because people are becoming more aware by having quickly accessible knowledge on the so-called world wide web. More people are doing their research and the variety of shops online help them choose their specific needs.
Those needs could be affected on the consumer by all kinds of reasons on why they choose a brand over another, based on experience or because of a more ethical background is not always the case.
Rather, it could be on a more personal and emotional level, Sarah Banet-Weiser covers this subject on ‘Branding the Authentic’:
“Building a brand is about building an effective authentic relationship with a consumer, one based—just like a relationship between two people—on the accumulation of memories, emotions, personal narratives, and expectations.”
My mother returned once from the store with a glass bottle of ketchup and told me how it reminded her of her grandma making authentic ketchup back in the days, the glass bottle connected with her on an emotional level regardless if the taste of the plastic bottle ketchup is superior.
The design of the product can often stand for authenticity in a consumer point of view. If it’s aesthetics communicate trust or part of our childhood, it connects with us in a way that we fancy the specific brand more than others.
People also love to be a part of something bigger, brands can often help them feel safe, secure or relevant. Brands also have the power in helping us feel more special and unique from the rest, some brands associate themselves with cultures or lifestyles in order to find a niche market, they promote events and help aspiring artists but what might be seen as a great gesture could also be justified as a long-term investment in their “authenticity”.
Brands often help us ( the consumers ) express a behavior that is undeveloped or acquire a trait that we don’t have. It makes us who we are, and although we have the freedom to change our lifestyle you’ll find it won’t be easy without the transition of brands too.
A short 2009 animation called “Logorama” elaborates this further, every single thing is a brand within this universe, there is no escape. This animation made me feel like authenticity simply does not exist and that consumer capitalism is, well, everywhere.
However, allow me to disagree with myself for a second here.
Because of this man, yes that’s Brad Pitt but that’s not important. What’s important is that he plays a guy called Tyler Durden in a movie called Fight Club. Tyler is pretty much the opposite of Patrick Bateman, the protagonist in the movie mentioned in my previous post called American Psycho. Patrick follows a strict rule, he tries to fit in with his co-workers yet buys expensive brands and goes out of his way to make a reservation at the top restaurant for purpose none other than to show his status. Without the psychopath urges Patrick is society’s ideal role model, unlike Tyler.
So why does Tyler Durden and Fight Club matter? Because of a genius ideology that I haven’t seen in any recent movie of today.
In a scene at a bar, our main protagonist meets up with Tyler after an incident at his apartment resulting in losing pretty much everything he owns. “I was close to being complete“ says the protagonist after mentioning years effort of hand-picked brands and selected Scandinavian furniture.
Tyler responds with a refreshing philosophy on life:
“We’re consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.”
And the quote that defines authenticity in my opinion:
“I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let’s evolve. Let the chips fall where they may.”
This right here is the authenticity. You can advertise, design something to the utmost perfection with a witty slogan. But the effortless authenticity of refusing to be complete is a middle finger not only to brands but society’s expectations of what a person’s meaning of life should be, that is whatever you want it to be.
I’ll end this post with yet another quote from Tyler Durden:
“The things you own end up owning you.”