It’s estimated that most people see tens of thousands of marketing messages a day, and you might see even more than that, depending on where you live in the world.
That’s a lot of messages. And most of them are trying to convince you of something.
To add insult to injury, many of these messages don’t even seem like marketing. Instead, a product is mentioned in a pop song or displayed in the background on a prime time dramedy.
Perhaps the most cunning of these messages, though, is the apple on your laptop. Or the swoosh on your sneakers. Or the charging bull on your energy drink can.
I say cunning because, in most cases, consumers of the products bearing these logos are more than happy to display them. In fact, they’d feel a little ripped off if they couldn’t. The logo stands for something, whether it be quality, edginess, or a certain indefinable cool that you understand, but can’t put your finger on.
These associations aren’t accidental: There are teams of very intelligent people in charge of building up the reputation of these iconic marks. They make sure their computers are used by the right people, and their energy drinks are chugged by the most influential stars for specific demographics. It’s an aspect of branding that is part art and part science, and its most shining success has been making consumers feel that by associating themselves with a certain logo—certain colors, certain words, certain songs, certain tastes, and certain packaging—they are themselves transformed into something more. They believe that some of the quality or edginess or cool displayed in commercials and magazine spreads will somehow rub off on them.
In a way, it does. It’s said that you are what you eat, and if you decide that you’re a Whole Foods person, for example, chances are you’re eating more organic, healthy foods than someone who associates themselves with the McDonald’s brand. It’s not a given, but the likelihood is higher.
This association is very superficial. The attributes that cause a person to eat healthier are not imbued by a brand; the brand simply brings these attributes to the surface. It’s encouraging to feel there are other people like you out there, and you’re not just a log floating down a lonesome river: You’re part of a movement, something bigger than yourself. This is your grocery store. Read more on The Minimalists
“Logos” is an excerpt from Colin Wright’s new book, Act Accordingly, published today by Asymmetrical Press, available in Kindle ($3) and Print ($7) editions.
Colin Wright is a minimalist, entrepreneur, and full-time traveler who travels to a new country every four months based on the votes of the readers at his blonikeg, Exile Lifestyle.
If you are near Missoula, Montana, Colin is hosting a special reading and book-signing event for Act Accordingly on 6/26.