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Craig Smith, Marketing Magazine
"It comes down to trust - you know where you are with a brand"
 real 28k

Jane Birkby, UK
"Marketing corporations have a lot to answer for"
 real 28k

Gerard Aartsen, Holland
"It is not about creating good products any more"
 real 28k

Tridiv Borah, Germany
"People are unable to discriminate or make choices"
 real 28k

Indranil Ghosh, US
"Brands have been around forever"
 real 28k

Dan Snyder, US
"it's helpful to have a brand name that can set a standard"
 real 28k

John Russell, UK
"People should think about the origins of what they buy"
 real 28k

Thursday, 26 October, 2000, 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK
Are we slaves to brands?

Brand names have become the embodiment of globalisation. They not only attract customers world-wide, they also pull in campaigners against world capitalism.

As a current exhibition in London shows, we are prepared to pay over the odds for clothes that have the right logo on. With them, we think we are buying into a lifestyle.

Are we? What is the power of the brand? Do they really symbolise everything that is wrong with globalisation? Or are they being unfairly targeted by newly branded anti-capitalist protestors?

We took your calls in our LIVE phone-in programme "Talking Point On Air". You can use the form at the bottom of the page to add to the debate.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air.

  • Your comments since the programme
  • Your comments during the programme
  • Your comments before the programme


    Your comments since the programme

    Designer label clothes are for sad people who lack their own personality and individuality!
    Rob, UK

    In answer to Tim Wong of Australia, there is plenty wrong with 'brands' if they use child labour/slave wages to produce the goods at low cost and then sell them at inflated prices in order to make their profits.
    Karen, UK

    Remember - you're unique, just like everyone else!
    David, England

    If it is the quality of the goods behind the brand that matter - then why do so many drug companies spend more on advertising and branding than they do on research and development?
    Dave, UK


    The ones that stay, do so by adhering to quality and by delivering what is promised. Brand loyalty doesn't happen overnight

    Arnab Mukherjee, USA
    There are brands and there are brands. But the ones that stay, do so by adhering to quality and by delivering what is promised. Brand loyalty doesn't happen overnight. A product needs to satisfy millions of discerning customers over a period of time to become a brand. I buy a brand because it tells me what to expect. It stands for consistency and quality.
    Arnab Mukherjee, USA

    Fashion victims will always feel the need to conform for the sake of their own personal security. Because I have always created my own style and not been influenced by fashion I have encouraged this in my son. But as he is now in his early teens, peer pressure is getting to him, and he seems destined to join the hordes of lookalikes in their track and field event outfits at the mall...
    Mark Laurence Scott, Brit in California, USA

    I have no problem with 'brands', and believe people are entitled to buy whatever they perceive as 'quality'. What I do have a problem with is people that I can only describe as complete idiots who think they are better people, or somehow superior, because they have this stuff or can afford to buy it.
    Andy Brown, UK

    Any company that puts their brand name on the outside of clothes, doesn't get my business. Occasionally I will remove the offending advertisement. I don't desire to be a walking billboard. Anyone who buys clothes so they can display the logo as a means of gaining approval is shallow. I suggest getting a life instead of a lifestyle.
    Phillip J Hubbell, USA

    Unfortunately many people do not have the mental ability to make a conscious choice and are seduced into the false life style images that the brands project. I have the scenario for a film that no filmmaker would dare to make. A film about brands which would end with people streaming past a camera all dressed in branded goods and, as they stream past, the line gradually becomes a line of sheep until the whole screen is filled with nothing else. Wake up and be individual! Lead you own life!
    Simon Corder, Malaga, Spain

    Consumers wish to presume quality. They choose brand names in an attempt to get it and will return if it is delivered. Every brand name began as a local company. Snapple, Dell, Nike, Gateway, all became giants who provided quality for value and then mastered marketing. Quality is only a beginning and when it is absent the game never begins. 
    Pat MacManus, California


    People buy brand names because they fear not being accepted

    Jennifer Knoeber, Lithuania
    I believe people buy brand names because they fear not being accepted. Many people cannot afford the prices, but incurring debt means nothing if their facade gets them into the "in" crowd. Many off-brands are of similar quality and cost much less. However, as disappointing as it is, first impressions can mean more than who the person really is.
    Jennifer Knoeber Vilnius, Lithuania

    In France, brands seem to be so important that on top of traditional TV commercials made by brands, we can also see "generalist" commercials saying that it is important to choose brand products more than other products. "Les marques: on ne pourrait pas vivre sans elles" (we could not even live without trademarks!).
    Denis Duval, France


    Good quality doesn't need corporate type marketing and advertising to sell

    Paul Hoeberigs
    Good quality doesn't need corporate type marketing and advertising to sell. A good restaurant for example sells on the basis of word of mouth. This doesn't apply only to restaurants. Take hi-fi equipment for example. There is a little English make 'rega' from Southend on Sea, who never advertise yet have hugely successful products which sell by word of mouth of the buyers/enthusiasts who are once again the advertisers.
    Paul Hoeberigs

    In the Independent On Sunday of 24 September there is a photograph by Martin Parr entitled 'What the photographer saw', of a bag seller in Odessa selling plastic carrier bags from the West with logos, brand names on them. "The more Western the bag, the better the associated prestige". That says it all!
    Margot Beard

    Your comments during the programme


    There is nothing wrong with brands

    Tim Wong Sydney Australia
    There is nothing wrong with brands, there is nothing wrong with expanding corporations seeking to make profits, and there is nothing wrong with expressing tribal indentities. But it is important that governments regulate brands so that consumers are not falsely informed.
    Tim Wong Sydney Australia

    The fantasy may be quality, predictability, pleasure or status, at whatever price the consumer is willing to afford. Consequently producers provide brands at different price points. It's not that the more expensive product will last longer necessarily, but that it satisfies a mix of other needs, but all primarily satisfying the equation, fantasy=money.
    Edward Bigelow Palo Alto, California

    Is it not obvious that the massive marketing campaigns are directly funded by the consumers? As prices go up, the marketing campaigns become more elaborate. A vicious circle if ever there was one.
    Carl Bergquist, Berlin


    If you spend enough on marketing you can sell almost anything

    Breandán Murray, Ireland
    Budweiser is a good example of advertisement over substance. Through pure advertisement they've established it as the biggest beer in the world. Taste is a subjective , but Budweiser is not a spectacular product and there's no great beer tradition in America unlike Germany for example. It could be strongly argued that there are many better beers but they don't have this powerful image, at least for the young and trendy. So if you spend enough on marketing you can sell almost anything.
    Breandán Murray, Ireland

    The brands depend upon the concept of contagious magic where touching the item associated with an important or powerful animal, person or idea gives the person those qualities. They provide a group identity that feels safer than one's individual identity. Marketers take advantage of this herd mentality. Anyone different from the herd is ostracised and isolated and most people do not want to be outcast from the group.
    Dan Kolstad

    My problem with the whole issue of brands is that because they are determined to build a relationship with you, to sell you more. This means they have become increasingly pushy in the way they try and stamp themselves on your lives. Advertising on every white space, everywhere; in the real world and the virtual world. They demand you change your life to fit them better, to wipe out or manipulate the identity you had before. Let's reconquer the space in front of our eyes and between ourselves. Let's free ourselves of these brands and put shopping back where it belongs - a tiny part of our lives, not a lifestyle.
    Gabriel Fawcett


    If people want to waste their hard-earned cash - let them

    Ferzana, UK
    If people want to waste their hard-earned cash let them. If they really believe buying a brand helps them 'belong' - they are beyond all help - but think of the free entertainment provided! I buy things I like and clothes that will never embarrass their wearer (I hope).
    Ferzana, UK


    Frankly it's all a farce, something which we could all afford to live without

    Jaffar Sidek, Singapore
    It all boils down to double standards. Multi-nationals sponsor large projects to boost their business, but take away the free market. See if the so-called "anti-capitalists" will not defend with vigour that which has just been overthrown. Frankly it's all a farce, something which we could all afford to live without.
    Jaffar Sidek, Singapore

    The audience listening to this program are, after all, slaves to the BBC brand, who have established a reputation around the world for the quality and reliability of their news reporting, though they are in the pay of the British Foreign and Colonial (Commonwealth, if you prefer) Office and though the BBC looks at the rest of the world through western-coloured spectacles!
    mohansingh, india


    I appreciate global companies...they provide quality products that also set a standard for local companies

    Dan Snyder
    As someone who has lived in a third-world country, Nigeria, for over 20 years, I appreciate global companies like Coca Cola, the Hilton, Sheraton, and Levi Strauss. They provide quality products that also set a standard for local companies. Long live capitalism.
    Dan Snyder

    Your comments before we went ON AIR

    As someone who has lived in a third-world country, Nigeria, for over 20 years, I appreciate global companies like Coca Cola, the Hilton, Sheraton, and Levi Strauss. They provide quality products that also set a standard for local companies. Long live capitalism.
    Dan Snyder

    I an a 19-year-old business student at Bournemouth university. On campus I see day to day the result of young adults with far larger disposable incomes than they have ever had before. When my fellow students buy a new Armani jacket or Versace jeans they are not only buying the clothes they are buying the image. Brands such as Levis and Nike are nowadays regarded as common and anything but is declared as cheap market rubbish.
    Nick, Bournemouth

    I believe we could be enslaved to brands, but many of the "names" in the market owe their reputation to their quality. Brands such us Coca-Cola represent negative globalisation for some individuals, but sooner or later all countries will appreciate the advantages of a global economy.
    Jorge Almeida-Chiriboga, Toowoomba, Australia

    Japan is the most incredibly brand conscious society in the world. People will pay over £400 for a handbag because it has a famous name on it. I look at items, see the price, and then judge if it's worth paying for. Sometimes it has a brand name I know, but more often than not, it doesn't. I don't feel less well-dressed than anyone else, I don't feel like I drive a worse car than anyone else, and I have put on 6kg since I arrived here, so I don't eat or drink worse than anyone else!
    Christopher Laird, Tokyo, Japan

    Of course we are slaves to brands. We tend to claim that we are individuals, but in reality, we wear what we're told, think as we're told, and do as we're told. There is a certain safety in sameness, and for this we will sell ourselves to the large coorporations that rule the world.
    Bruce

    Given the choice between a plain blue T-shirt and a blue T-shirt with a Nike logo, I'll always choose the Nike because it gives me deep and profound satisfaction to help advertise the product of cigar-chomping, three piece suit fat cats who would dance a jig on my grave for a buck or a quid or a doubloon. And in the process, I look good damn good.
    John, Quincy, USA


    I wear my clothes, they don't wear me

    Jenny, England
    As a child I was never interested in fashion or labels, and as an adult I am the same. I have no interest in being an "it" person. I could afford to be if I wanted to, but I choose not to. I buy what is comfortable and good value. I don't particularly shop around, but I DO avoid any shops with huge logos. It comes down to one simple fact. I wear my clothes, they don't wear me!
    Jenny, Essex, England


    Brands in their own right aren't bad

    Tim, England
    I think the debate might be missing the point a bit. Brands in their own right aren't bad. The Red Cross is a brand. Greenpeace is a brand. Brands are simply a mechanic, a badge, a simplifier etc . The nasty, grubby bit is what is behind some of the brands. And the nasty, grubby bit isn't behind every brand - conversely you don't have to have a brand to be nasty and grubby. North Korea isn't a brand. The focus should move to exposing nasty, grubby activity - whether it's linked to a brand or not.
    Tim, Marlow, England

    The "Brand Names" to that most influence societies, peoples and governments are the names such as Time Warner, BBC, CNN etc. They are products which not only shape who we are but what we look like as a society on the whole. Finding the real truth about the real world is all to often distorted by the brand names of the media. Believe it or not, the true dresser of the world wears an editorial badge not a label.
    Troy, Little Wisconsin, USA


    If companies want me to wear and advertise their brand names, they should pay me for the priviledge.

    Chris Millbank, UK
    Many items of clothing sold with brand names on are the same quality as unmarked ones and are probably manufactured by the same companies - usually in the Far East etc. The only difference is that they often cost 50% more, which amounts to a rip-off. I make a point of never paying over the odds for branded items. If companies want me to wear and advertise their brand names, they should pay me for the priviledge.
    Chris Millbank, London, UK


    Brands are for the thoughtless and ignorant

    Brian Edwards, UK
    We nuture very basic instincts through brands. Our fear of the unknown, our need for security in established values and our need to be a member of a group. The attributes of brands are similar to established religions. The effects are similar to those of an established religion.
    Robert Gufler, USA


    Yes, with a labelled product you are buying yourself in a lifestyle and it is absolutely OK

    Christoph Haemmerli, Switzerland
    Yes, with a labelled product you are buying yourself in a lifestyle and it is absolutely OK. I do not think that we are slaves of brands, because everyone can decide whether they want to buy a branded good for lots of money or a product which is often of the same quality but a lot cheaper. I think the whole brand stuff has something to do with self-confidence. A brand product can give someone really a good feeling about himself.
    Christoph Haemmerli, Switzerland

    To Steve Richardson: I wear mostly unbranded clothes (bar my Wrangler jeans I got for $15 on the basis they fit me better than the unbranded pair for $12). I really couldn't care less if my clothes mean I get turned away from The Fridge. I live in London and until today had never even heard of it. When I retire I'll have a decent pension, at least you'll have a collection of fine clothes you wore in your youth.
    John B, UK

    Multinationals now have their own "economies" worth much more than entire countries: WalMart is worth more than South Africa. Big branding does not equate to quality and choice. Big branding means free reign to impose. They are their own lawless dominance - unbound by national law.
    Raquel, London

    Its freedom of choice. If you want to buy it buy it if you don't want to buy it don't. But whether you decide to buy exclusively "branded" goods or exclusively "non branded" goods or a mixture of all - its your choice and you have the right to make it!
    Tess, UK

    We seem a bit less involved in labels here in rural England, I don't know anyone with Versace or Armani, and while Nike is common, if you buy your trainers from a catalogue it takes away a bit of the cudos, apparently.
    Lesley, Wiltshire UK

    When my daughter was in high school she was routinely snubbed and even harassed because I refused to buy her sneakers that cost $150.00 or Jeans that had the logo of some grossly overpriced brand name stamped on the pocket. At the time my husband worked in the oil industry in Houston and price was not the issue. I simply did not want my daughter to allow her entire physical being to depend upon magical thinking and the approval of others whose thinking was were driven by considerations of status that derived from outside themselves.
    Jane Davis, Tucson,USA


    Of course companies are trying to sell brands, images, life-styles...so tell me something new?

    Will O'Malley, Manchester, UK
    Oh, c'est le fin du monde!!! The drama of it all, the multi-nationals are trying to buy our souls! (Dramatic Swoon). Oh please, these anti-globalisation nutters really get up my nose. Of course companies are trying to sell brands, images, life-styles...so tell me something new? All this social projecting shouldn't be taken so seriously. It's true there are big divides between those who have and those who have not, and more should be done on the part of both to rectify this. But that doesn't mean that if you're poor you're lazy, or that if your rich you're selfish. You are who you are and it is irrelevant what clothes you buy, or cola you drink. Maybe if people listened a little more to each other instead of clammering to shout their points 24/7 the world WOULD be a much better place.
    Will O'Malley, Manchester, UK

    Back in the days of conscription 'National Service', most soldiers couldn't wait to get out of the enforced conformity of uniform; how ironic that many of their sons and grandsons crave group identity and acceptance through uniformity; how ridiculous that they pay a premium to advertise their lack of individuality.
    jamie pearson, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic


    We long for recognition and want to be accepted by the group

    Albert P'Rayan, Kigali, Rwanda
    All that glitters is not gold. We long for recognition and want to be accepted by the group with which we want to associate ourselves. That is why we become addicted to a particular brand. The word 'addiction' has a negative connotation. It means we know that there are some products which are better than the brands we are addicted to, but we go for those brands which are associated with some movie actors and so-called successful people in life. We are hero worshippers Most of us are well-educated but we don't know how to come down to the reality. Let's allow our feet to touch the earth.
    Albert P'Rayan, Kigali, Rwanda

    The strange thing is that poor people in bad neighbourhoods are the ones who buy the Nike and ck apparel the most
    E. ASAMOAH, Ghana/USA

    Personally, I have an ambivalent attitude towards this debate. Some branded products, such as Mercedes have a very justified brand association with quality. The other branded world inhabited by firms such as Nike have a reputation for, being an 'it' product? Not enough justification to my mind to pay any premium for their goods.
    D.Lewis, Southampton, UK


    We pay no heed to where things are made, and how they are made

    John R, Edinburgh
    Society is fickle. We all want the right brand of this or that. We pay no heed to where things are made, and how they are made. We do not support British industry. More to the point, we have no idea who British owned industries/companies are any more, such is the effect of globalisation. By the look of flagging British industries, it seems most of us don't seem to care much who owns the companies who make our clothes, cars, food etc, as long as we have the 'right' label.
    John R, Edinburgh

    The price charged for brand name products in comparison to other prices is so ludicrous. I have four children, all of impressionable age and there is no way on this planet I could even consider buying brand name products. This unfortunately causes hang-ups for my eldest son who has just gone up to secondary school. He finds he is in a minority group where fashion is concerned. Where is this all leading to and why charge so much for something that is often of poor quality anyway?
    Michele, UK

    RESIST! If your country has not already become completely consumed by the corporate moloch (as we have in the US), run as fast as you can! The price of this consumer feeding frenzy is a seemingly limitless expanse of strip malls, chain stores and fast food establishments. Trust me on this, there is nothing about this lifestyle worth importing.
    K L Carey, Portland, USA

    Brands are good. They help define quality, and protect the consumer from poor quality upstart products, that have not stood the test of trial.
    Colin Campbell, Dallas, USA


    We are slaves to our passions; the companies simply reflect our tastes

    Christopher, New York City, USA
    I think the brands reflect what we want in our products more than what the product makers want from us. They do research to please and appeal to us, so we are slaves to our passions; the companies simply reflect our tastes.
    Christopher, New York City, USA

    The weak minded, the peer-pressured, and the socially mobile are slaves to brands. The strong-minded are not.
    Alex, Brussels, Belgium

    In school from the mid 70s my friends and I would cut off the Lacoste gator turn it upside down and sew it back on. Strange this was our way to of thumbing our noses at the corporations but oddly enough if you didn't have Lacoste you weren't anybody. I find it strange in the protests against the WTO many of the protesters are sporting their upscale expensive "people friendly" clothes. Forty-five dollar T shirts stating their philosophies about corporations that pay employees only one to two dollars a day.
    Caitlin, Middle of Nowhere, USA

    I really struggle to understand the issue here. If you don't agree with brand names then don't buy them!! I personally like to wear Nike trainers, they look good and last a damn site longer than "supermarket" trainers, but that's my choice. Surely if this "globalisation",(whatever it is?) was that important, more people would avoid buying branded goods and economics forces would kick in to change the policies of corporations.
    Andi, Horndean Hants

    If a brand is meant to signal quality, then it is placed discretely on the inside of the things we wear. The quality of the garment or shoes will be obvious without a logo to signal that fact. Where the label rests on your own clothing indicates your needs: quality (goods) versus status (symbols).
    Jason Siroonian, San Francisco, USA


    Most dangerous are criminal cartels and hidden monopolies, who really rob the public

    Yuli, Vienna, Austria
    Gentlemen, you are cheated. The main issue about "free market" is not connected with the brand names. Most dangerous are criminal cartels and hidden monopolies, who really rob the public. Think about the street price and production price of the clay brick or Microsoft Office.
    Yuli, Vienna, Austria

    Unfortunately, brands are not only signifiers of particular products and lifestyles but of capitalism itself. In the enlightened public consciousness the two are entwined and inseparable. Therefore, there could be a compelling argument to suggest that the more powerful brands are complicit in the legitimisation of all the horrors and anti-democratic actions undertaken on behalf of Capitalist ideology. To equate Capitalism with Democracy is the height of folly and false consciousness.
    Michael Griffiths, London, UK

    Reading through the messages posted here, I see quite a common sentiment that there is something wrong with people who buy because of brand, that they have no will power, that they are gullible or just plain stupid. What a bunch of pompous, arrogant, conceited, self-righteous nobodies you all are. Are you motivated by jealousy because you can't afford branded goods, or do you just get off on feeling superior to us mere mortals? I buy branded goods because, by-and-large, I can trust the quality because I have experienced it before. If my last purchase from a particular manufacturer was satisfactory, there's a pretty good chance that it will be the same if I go back. I don't have time to shop around to find what is the best value, or to find the cheapest deal, because I have both a job and a life. So to all those who look down on the majority, I can only suggest that you get yourselves a job, and get yourselves a life.
    Versace Customer, UK


    Brand names are no more of a threat to this country than an uprising of sheep

    Alex White, UK
    A brief point, can you name a non-capitalist country where people of extreme political views are free to express themselves? Imagine demonstrating against the establishment in a non-capitalist country. Brand names are no more of a threat to this country than an uprising of sheep. If we have to see some brand names to live in a free and open society then so be it.
    Alex White, UK

    Brand name or no brand name. What's happened to freedom of choice? The choice is yours. Why make a mountain out of a molehill!
    Cameron Wilson, Walvis Bay, Namibia

    First, think of what you want to buy. Then think of the minimum of capabilities the thing must have to do what you want it to do. Then buy the cheapest example you can find that has those qualities (this includes durability of course). Then have everybody surprised, when they see that not a single brand of household appliance in your house is present more than once. Have enough money left over for other things that you want to do, that you didn't spend on needless brand buying. Just my two cents :-)
    van Leijenhorst, Houten, Netherlands


    We buy branded clothes to feel special - the irony being we're becoming as generic as our high streets.

    Richard, Merseyside, UK
    Has anyone else noticed how any city centre in the UK looks almost exactly the same as any other? They are almost guaranteed to contain: McDonald's, Burger King, Starbucks, GAP, M&S, HMV, Virgin Megastore, TopShop, Boots, Dixons, Next, H&M etc. We buy branded clothes to feel special - the irony being we're becoming as generic as our high streets.
    Richard, Merseyside, UK

    Brands are many things to many people. However, they usually stand for a quality and lifestyle that one can aspire to and desire. Buying a branded product is not simply about the physical object or service you get but much more about the emotional things that the brand stands for. Brands offer a guarantee, a contract with the customer, to provide all the material and emotional qualities that the brand stands for. They are very powerful but if a brand breaks that bond, that contract, then it doesn't matter how good the product is, it will stay on the shelves, unsold. I disagree with some of the other comments, the link between us and our brands is complex and valuable - used correctly - why shouldn't we aspire to a better life and feel good about what we buy?
    Nathan, UK

    It may seem like a shock to those who haven't really thought about the underlying problem to all this but 'big' brands only get to be big or global because they give people something they either need, or, more often these days, want. People make brands big and global through their preferences ... blame them if you don't like it, not a brand for offering them one choice among many, which turns out to be very popular.
    John, Scotland


    In this era of globalization and technology, an image is projected around the world much faster than the actual distribution of the product itself

    Waheeda Lillevik, Canada
    Yes, of course we are slaves to brands ... I try really hard to buy items that fit me, suit my taste, suit my budget, all whether there's a logo plastered onto it or not. I won't say that I avoid buying brand-name items - right now I attend a university that has been 'bought' by Coke. I can get no other soft drink or juice products other than Coke here, so I have no choice but to purchase such items here. And their logos are emblazoned all over the university campus. In this era of globalization and technology, an image is projected around the world much faster than the actual distribution of the product itself. Brands are a form of competitive advantage in this new economy, by creating demand through the creation of a particular lifestyle. People often need to feel a sense of belonging, and for some, purchasing brand names can mean that they're a part of a group, maybe an elite one, who somehow share perceived (and desirable) values and attitudes. Whether you like it or not, marketing through the use of a brand is as important (and sometimes more important) than the quality of the product itself, especially for firms that are operating globally.
    Waheeda Lillevik, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

    We need brand names and patents to recognise propriety items to recognise the product and associate whatever quality that item may have. Similar items with different brand names can vary greatly in price, though the higher price does not necessarily mean you have the superior product nor the one you like. Unfortunately, too many of us are gullible, purchasing certain brands just because a celebrity uses the product in question. Manufacturers of fashion sportswear deliberately target adolescents and the yuppie generation as for them being trendy is the be all and end all.
    Hazel, UK

    By 2010 those left alive will be running across a radioactive wasteland hotly pursued by Microsoft-designed robots plastered with Nike logos and firing scalding Starbucks coffee at the huddled, freezing survivors of humanity. Sooner or later the corporations will decide that humans are inefficient.
    Steven Lowe, Manchester, UK

    As a child my mother once had to choose between a Musto and a Helly Hansen lifejacket for me. I wanted the Musto because it looked cooler, but the Helly Hansen was appreciably cheaper. I was very upset by the final decision. Imagine my surprise when I found hundreds of youths proudly displaying their Helly Hansen gear around the streets of London, far from any stretch of water that might necessitate a highly expensive waterproof dingy sailing jacket. Mugs!
    Dom Hume, London


    Branding is largely an exercise in "product differentiation"

    Steve, Bristol, UK
    Branding is largely an exercise in "product differentiation", the best examples of which are perhaps in the washing powder market. There are lots of soap powders on sale, which leads to the assumption that there are many manufacturers. In fact there are only two or three at best, so what each has to do to protect their market share is to produce a multitude of very similar products but make ridiculous claims about how different they are, often by appealing to "lifestyle". And, of course, it works. None of us is totally immune, and I suppose the ease with which we can be sold to is indicative of our trusting nature, but some people really do seem so desperate to "belong" that you wonder whether they can think for themselves at all.
    Steve, Bristol, UK

    The worst part of all this obsession with "brand" is that it perpetuates sweatshop labour practices. Almost every major brand out there turns a blind eye to their sweatshops that make these sought after brands. Buying into brand obsession, thus creating demand, means the cycle of sweatshops never ends.
    Priya

    Those who doubt the perverseness of 'brands' should go to the Philippines and have a good look. This is where the Saturday family outings to McDonald's are the highpoints and this is a country in Asia where you find one of the most developed food culture.
    Tridiv Borah, Dortmund, Germany


    Without a brand you can't have reputation and without reputation companies have no incentive to produce quality.

    Alex, London, UK
    Branding has an important function to play. It lets you associate the widget for sale in front of you with the one you bought last week and the one Joe down the road bought a month ago. Without a brand you can't have reputation and without reputation companies have no incentive to produce quality. Where things go wrong is when a company tries to attach a false impression to a brand name through advertising.
    Alex, London, UK

    Most of the global brands that we have today are historical ones. Coca-Cola and Levi's have been around for a long time. For those wishing to establish a new brand it is vital that instead of just spending millions on advertising they try to identify what it is their brand stands for. That way new brands can establish themselves with a cynical and tired market by identification and not by drowning them with adverts.
    Iain Aitken, London, UK

    No one can avoid brands, no matter how hard they try they will advertise the 'bring forth' of our culture. That is, to mirror our actual reality. Branding plays a minor role of this sort of superficial lifestyle. What is urgent is which brands are to be found in free trade zones which inflict damaging and unavoidable lifestyle to the general public.
    Jason d'Eon, Canada

    As I sit here wearing my 7 year old pear of (unbranded) jeans, and a 5 year old plain blue jumper, I realise that the only brand worth going for is the big black 'F' of the Fairtrade organisation. They try to counteract the brand-related greed of the West by giving fair deals to the developing world, who couldn't care less about brands. Any food and clothing is good enough for them.
    Andrew, Oxford, UK


    Chain stores are for sad losers

    Steve Richardson, UK
    I spend upwards of 200 pounds a week on designer labels. They're just better quality than trash from the chain stores. I can spot someone in River Island from a mile away, but decent clobber always looks the part. Chain stores are for sad losers. Try getting into Fridge [London night club] in anything which doesn't have a name ... unlikely.
    Steve Richardson, London, UK

    It is globalisation that's "at fault", but not in the way these protestors put it. Globalisation threatens our sense of identity, so we cling on to anything that would give us a sense of identity, whether it be a product brand, an entertainment/celebrity brand, a religious brand, a nationalist/ethnic brand. It's part of reacting to being open to differences, corporate branding on the same spectrum of evilness as patriotism and religious factionalism. Until we learn to accept differences and compromise - each and everyone of us, not just one group or another - there is no real lasting solution to the branding addiction.
    E Chang, London, UK


    People are cattle - why else do they call it branding?

    Andy, Oxford, UK
    It might be nice to think that society is made up of well-informed independently-minded individuals, but in fact people just do whatever everyone around them is doing - the herd instinct. If it were just an issue of quality, why do people insist on having brand names or logos being printed on the outside of their clothes? People are cattle - why else do they call it branding?
    Andy, Oxford, UK

    The BBC is a brand. All you people claiming they are not interested in brands came to this site because of that brand. There are dozens of other sites you could have gone to. Brands guarantee an acceptable level of quality. You know what you are getting. Even if another unbranded product has the chance of being better, the brand gives you peace of mind. Something which a lot of people understandably are prepared to pay for.
    Gary, Bucharest, Romania


    Brands can also have positive virtues in making life easier by cutting down on the number of decisions that have to be made

    Mark Hughes, London, UK
    To focus on the pernicious nature of brands is an oversimplification. Brands can also have positive virtues in making life easier by cutting down on the number of decisions that have to be made. If we had to evaluate numerous products every time we made a purchase we would be left with little time for anything else. Brands are not always a bad thing.
    Mark Hughes, London UK

    Worldwide brands, like most things in this world have their bad side and their good. I'm sure there are many unethical business and social practices associated with these companies. But if you can tell me that these anti-capitalist protestors haven't been abroad at some time in their lives and found comfort in the taste or image of a Coke or McDonald's - then I think they need to live in the real world. Although in the Western world these brands are under heavy scrutiny, on a worldwide basis they are helping to push the message of capitalism and democracy in places untouchable by our politicians (thank God!).
    Graham Beale, London, UK

    I normally do not use this 'branded' BBC website. I prefer the more generic current affairs from www.valuenews.nobrand.co.uk. Must dash, I seem to have snagged my Versace shirt on my Calvin Klein jeans, whilst trying to inflate my supposedly self-inflating Nike trainers. Keep smiling ...
    Dan, Manchester, UK

    Brand names personify trust and similarity, both of which appeal to people. This is just the newest empire (and we seem to be very fond of them, considering we remember Alexander as 'the Great', rather than as 'the mass murderer').
    Lee, Winchester, England

    If you're stupid enough to pay way over the odds for something you can get of equal quality much cheaper, you deserve all you get. Kids are getting beaten up for wearing the "wrong" brand name. Crazy world we live in.
    Steve, England

    Ironic really that the "fashion conscious" are prepared to pay over the odds to be a walking advertising hoarding.
    Richard P, London, England

    I always assumed consumers were brainwashed by brands and the marketing of big brand products. However, on a recent visit to big brand heaven, Singapore, I noticed few locals were wearing Nike. A cabbie told me Nike weren't popular because the local perception (or misperception) was that child labour was used in their manufacture. It seems there is hope after all.
    Tom, Perth Australia

    There is no power intrinsic to any brand or label other than what we give to it. The fact that the McDonald's arches are more instantly recognisable across the globe than any other religious or political symbol, says less about the growth in importance of global corporations in our lives and more about the demise of traditional spheres of influence in our lifestyles in this narrow post political, post idealist age we inhabit.
    Dom, Queensland, Australia


    How is it that 'capitalist'/'globalisation-friendly' countries have less poverty, civil war and greater freedom to choose

    Chantal, Australia
    Human beings have needs and when they don't get it they revolt. How is it that 'capitalist'/'globalisation-friendly' countries have less poverty, civil war and greater freedom to choose than those socialist/communist countries who have high levels of poverty, civil war and less or no freedom to choose.
    Chantal, Brit, living in Australia

    We are submissive, they keep us fighting each other to get ahead. Michael Jordan is worth billions and yet his biggest link to the inner city is the fact that kids get in shoot outs for $178 shoes, produced for $15.00.
    Sal Ripple, Seattle

    It is the quality of the product behind the brand name you are paying for. I'll not spend my dough on a product from an unknown company which has guarantee of survival. I work hard for my money and therefore I cannot afford to take chances with it. That's the bottom line.
    Narinder Dogra, Morgan Hill, US


    Before one starts to pooh-pooh brands, one has to realize that all brands stand for something, whether it's quality, style or just being "cool"

    Indranil Ghosh, San Francisco, USA
    Brand identity is increasingly becoming the only distinguishing factor between products and services that are much the same. What distinguishes one news program from another? After all the BBC is just a brand. It is however, a brand that stands for consistent accurate news and good programming. Before one starts to pooh-pooh brands, one has to realize that all brands stand for something, whether it's quality, style or just being "cool". I have spent the last ten years studying, repositioning and creating brands, and all the research that I have seen in the process tells me that brands and brand consciousness are here to stay ... hopefully as long as I'm employable!
    Indranil Ghosh, San Francisco, CA, USA

    Personally, I am indifferent to designer clothes brands such as Nike, Armani, etc. because I don't see that Nike is superior to generic brands, or Armani is superior to Marks and Spencer's. I can't tell if a suit is expensive or not! But show me a Mercedes, BMW or Ferrari against a Ford or Vauxhall, and my reply will be different ...
    Ed Bayley, USA (English)

    Let's be frank, you don't just buy the product. You also buy after-sales service quality, and if a brand offers good after sales service, you stay with what you know is "fit for your purpose".
    Phil W., British - temporarily in USA


    If you're going to get a life, be happy with getting your own.

    Harry Knapp, Germany
    Brand Name marketing was obviously invented because the products were inferior and would not sell themselves. As long as these marketing people have insecure people to sell promises and dreams to they will continue to mint money. Why doesn't the public realise that no matter which label they buy they will never look, smell, earn and be as famous as the overpaid celebrity advertising it. If you're going to get a life, be happy with getting your own.
    Harry Knapp, Munich, Germany

    I buy what I like, I wear what I like, I eat what I like. It's that simple. If people don't buy 'branded' goods, good luck to them, just don't knock me (and millions of others) for buying what we want.
    Matty, Botswana

    Check out this website everyone condoning branding: www.adbusters.org. And to Judith of England, wake up and smell the Nescafe darling. Pavlov had it made.
    E Coldwell, London, England

    Some time there is a connection between quality and a certain brand. But I think there are a lot of people with a lack of identity or who are simply feeling socially excluded. By buying a certain brand they feel part of a group, or they are buying themselves a certain image. Companies nowadays don't only promote their article or product, but they try to attach a certain feeling to it.
    Niels Hoffmann, Brussels Belgium


    You can easily look fashionable without forking out for brand names.

    Ant, England
    The answer to this depends on your age. If you are a schoolkid like me, then the answer will almost certainly be 'yes', as brands = 'coolness' = attention along the lines of "Wow, where d'ya get that from" and "I wish I could have one of them". Then again, your gran would probably think "you're paying for the name, why don't you go with the shop's own?", which personally I agree with, as a coat is a coat, a beer is a beer, a bag is a bag. You can easily look fashionable without forking out for brand names.
    Ant, Merseyside, England

    Has anyone ever seen people who live on welfare on a rough estate with Tommy Hilfiger jackets & Versace jeans? Are these brands a symbol of a desire for quality items and to be seen as being a cut above the rest or proof of neither wealth nor imagination?
    Paul Reddy, Denmark

    I'll admit I'm a brand junkie. I buy good brands that cost a lot for a few reasons. Wearing good clothes makes me feel good about myself as I think they look better therefore I look better. That's why I pay more for them. A small visible label is OK but don't buy stuff with the Logo blazoned all over it. You get what you pay for.
    Wiggsy, England

    The simple answer is if you don't like Nike, McDonald's, Microsoft, etc products don't buy them. The way that capitalism works is that the companies whose products people want to buy will be successful, those which don't will fail. Those who hate multinationals are the same communists who would force people to buy what they thought was good for them and not what people wanted. Capitalism gives you choice - use it wisely.
    Ray Pescrose, London, England


    People crave for consistency and familiar things

    Pete Morgan-Lucas, UK
    People crave for consistency and familiar things. A Big Mac is the same wherever you go. It's like a little bit of home away from home. And if some company makes billions out of providing it, then good for them - successful businesses are something we need more of the world over.
    Pete Morgan-Lucas, Wiltshire, UK

    To me it is an issue of trust. Not only do I buy something for quality and therefore need to trust the makers, but I think I buy to gain aproval and therefore am more likely to trust a well-known and trusted brand to deliver my needs. If we were honest most of us are as shallow-minded as I am.
    Ben Holloway, US

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    18 Oct 00 | UK
    I shop, therefore I am
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