sorry, that's a brand

June 4, 2012 ·

yes, this comes more than a month after the article was released, but such is the nature of catching up on my blog reading. this article from Ad Age, on the topic of james dyson, reveals that the brilliant designer doesn't believe in brand. at all. to the point that the word is taboo within the walls of his company (so he says).

as a guy who believes quite a bit in brands and is in the business of propelling brands forward, i'm alright with this assertion.

the reality is, who cares if dyson believes in brand or not. that's not his role. he is a designer. if he was to worry about brand, then that would detract from his product designing, and that would be bad for the brand. the product is the brand. everything he talks about is, by nature, a version of a brand. so without his dedication to product, the brand has no story behind it, no credibility and no reference point to consumers. yes, that's brand, but he doesn't need to believe in it, or do anything more to create it, it's a natural output.

the Ad Age article points to the company having run commercials as their proof to discredit dyson and that, in itself, is fallacy. having a tv spot does not a brand make. many of the commenters miss the mark too by parroting the same or calling dyson a hypocrite.

brand's have a measure of artifice and dyson is more genuine than that. the intentional creating of a brand adds layers of meaning or communication pieces to messages that connect with consumers on different levels. dyson as a "non-brand" strips those things away. for instance, there's no tagline on the tv spot. the article (subtley) and comments (overtly) deride dyson for his a-good-product-sells-itself mentality but it's obviously working.

so he puts product first when others put brand first. that's refreshing and different these days. he's not putting lipstick on a pig and he's not adding fluff to substance. isn't that commendable?

dyson doesn't need to believe in brand not just because it would take him off task, but because brand's are created in the minds of consumers. at least in part. sure companies help that along with advertising and other activities, but it's not the only piece. products themselves play just as heavy a role. he simply decided to strip the company and branding bits out and let consumers formulate it for themselves (with some reminders of the product - ie. tv spots).

see humans crave structure, associations and relationships. whether a company creates those or not with branding, people will form them and thus creates the brand on it's own, organically. all this method does is completely hand-over the brand to consumers to formulate their version of a brand rather than the usual shared way (or forced in many cases). that is a perfectly legitimate approach. not one our industry can really choke down because it goes against much of what is espoused and charged for. whatever the case, a brand lives in the minds of its consumers, just different ways of getting it there in the first place.

what happens when the consumer opinion changes, though, how will dyson recover? the point is that should he do what he does best in creating great products, there is no pivot point for consumers. say it still happens because some other product comes onto the market that is better. again, it goes back to the product. it either won't happen because of continuous improvement or it is immediately reworked in response. in both cases, the product reigns supreme and consumers remake the brand better in their minds as a result because they still got something beneficial.

in the end, just because one marketer doesn't believe in brand doesn't mean brand's don't exist (even his own) or that brand's don't have power. all it says are there are different ways to create and nurture brands because there are different types of brands. dyson should be lauded for the design genius he is because that story has transcended what we see is a normative way of creating a brand.

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