Inconsistent brand reality

    Photo: Timmy Gremxul

    Branding and Gambling

    “I have not seen anything like it before: dying more than 600 times in 3 hours is something!”, - the gamer shares his impressions on one of the forums. The plot, graphics, style of the game - everything fades into the background. New rules of life, a new world and another reality - it attracts. In his world, the player feels himself to be none other than God: he is immortal, he commands, he creates reality. It is hard for him to return to the familiar world on this side of the monitor - the reality created and shared by him is fascinating. Because of this feature of computer games, gambling today is recognized as a disease.

    Gambling and branding have a lot in common. Analyzing the views and approaches to modern branding technologies, one can meet its various interpretations and methodologies for creating and promoting a brand. The brand is perceived as something positive and vital for successful sales of goods. But let's try to look at branding differently, not on the scale of technology, but on the scale of the phenomenon of modern reality.

    Products do not exist

    When we go to the supermarket and drive past the richly filled shelves with a trolley, we don’t find milk, corn or chewing sweets there. We do not wander around the world of products, but around the world of brands. And here we have Parmalat, Bonduelle or Fruitella. In our brand consciousness, products do not exist. Only brands exist.

    Condemning the attachment to games, even the most ardent critic of gaming is suffering the same disease of altered reality as the player, the disease of branding. We live in an era of brand reality. Brands give us the opportunity to plunge into our mysterious, fantasy and attractive world. Just like computer game developers do. After making a purchase, we start the game and at the same moment we abandon the past reality, we change it. We believe that we have become more attractive to the opposite sex (“Ax”), we believe that we are young and energetic (“Burn”), we believe that we are smart and original (“Apple”). But is it really so? For us, those who believe in acquired reality, all these ideas are real. Other people can live their own, alternative reality, which has nothing to do with ours. They just play other games,

    Desert of the Real

    The famous Slovenian philosopher and specialist in mass communications, Slava Zizek, speaking about reality, raises the question of whether the world in which we live is real. Reality is constructed by the media, literature, politicians, and advertising. All this is a global add-on to the real present. If we discard it, unexpectedly for ourselves, we will find ourselves in the desert of the Real, as the main character of the film of the Wachowski Neo brothers turned out to be awakening from sleep for the first time in his life.

    What does the present look like?

    We are unaccustomed to the real present, we don’t even know how it looks. Imagine a dispute between a son and a father about which is better: Pepsi or Coca Cola. Immersed in brand reality, the debaters do not operate on the real qualities of the products (in fact, these products are identical). The son speaks of “choosing a new generation”: Pepsi is more modern, dynamic and energetic, and his father speaks about the history, kindness and traditions of the brand he honors. And everyone remains to exist in the world of their reality: the reality of “Pepsi” or the reality of “Coca Cola”. As in the case of enthusiastic reviews of the gamer about a new game, the plot, or the real essence of the product (sweet carbonated drink) goes by the wayside. This allows us to assume that father and son are influenced by branding just as a gamer is subject to gambling.

    Brands - Modern Gods

    In the case of gambling addiction, “immersion in cyberspace can enhance our bodily experience (a new sensuality, a new body with a large number of organs, a new gender ...), but it also opens the possibility for those who drive machines, who control cyberspace, literally steal our (virtual) the body, depriving us of control over it, so that no one else can treat the body as its own ”[1]. Brands, like machines, intelligently control our consciousness: they use our needs, having met their satisfaction, we perceive brand reality as real, and the brand itself becomes a kind of deity to whom we offer sacrifices and prayers.

    Robinson Crusoe - Real

    For the most part, brands satisfy the needs of higher levels: recognition, self-realization, belonging to a group of like-minded people, etc. Physiological needs are met not by brands, but by products. When we are asked about ten items that we would take with us to an uninhabited island, we do not name the brands — we name objects or products: matches, blankets, tents, provisions. Following this logic, we can say that brands do not satisfy lower human needs, or at least are not associated with their satisfaction. Therefore, in an uninhabited island, branded reality is replaced by real reality. We feel the world as it really is.

    Why are outdoor trips so popular in megacities? Why is the phenomenon of downshifting more and more prevalent in the modern world? One answer is the desire to break out of brand reality and feel the real reality. Another example is the “cutter phenomenon” (mainly women who have an irresistible urge to cut themselves with razors or otherwise cause bodily harm to themselves), fully consistent with the virtualization of what surrounds us: it symbolizes a desperate strategy to return to the reality of the body . Cutting is not at all connected with any kind of suicidal desires, it is just a radical attempt to find a solid support in reality, or (another aspect of the same phenomenon) an attempt to achieve a solid foundation of our ego in bodily reality, as opposed to an unbearable fear of perceiving oneself as non-existent. Usually, cutters say that, looking at the red warm blood flowing from a wound inflicted on themselves, they feel themselves revived, firmly rooted in reality ”[2].

    When do brands lose trust?

    Brands shape their reality, but are not able to create real reality. Sooner or later, we begin to perceive brand reality as a hoax or a farce. This is clearly seen in situations of economic crisis, warriors or natural disasters. The global financial crisis at the beginning of the 21st century has confirmed the decline in brand confidence. “Lehman Brothers”, “Crysler”, “Enron” - brands revered as deities for many decades, turned out to be “soap bubbles”. This really shocked the US population and made him wake up. Similar during the years of crisis occurs around the world.

    At the peak of the crisis, one of my friends said that he no longer saw the difference between a white Armani shirt and a domestic no-name shirt: no-name is cheaper and the quality is comparable. Quality, the essence of the product comes first. We reconsider our attitude to the satisfaction of virtual, higher needs and wake up in the reality of the present, on an uninhabited island, where, first of all, the assessment is not given to the shell, but to the essence.

    Brand killer

    The main anti-branding weapon is to teach people to meet the needs of the higher levels of the Maslow pyramid with alternative, anti-brand methods. For example, it is not necessary to buy a branded product in order to be perceived as a person who is fond of sports - you can go in for sports. Accordingly, life in real reality requires much more effort and determination, it is more complicated and dangerous. Therefore, it is much easier and more joyful to perceive brand reality than real reality.

    If you think utopian

    Drawing a picture of an idealistic future, we will have to abandon branding - a disease of altered reality - a reality that enslaves a person and kills the essence of things. Attempts to abandon branding were in the Soviet Union and the countries of the social camp. So milk was called milk and was milk. Products were sold despite the lack of market competition that branding is designed to support. The man did not know brand reality and was who he really was. But advertising is only one of the factors that shape reality, so it is not possible to say that in the USSR people lived in real reality.

    A more idealistic, but also even more utopian model of building a society outside of brand reality - “The Venus Project” - was developed by Jacques Fresco in the 1960s [3]. The model depicts a society without crime, politics, marketing and advertising, a society that does not know money, a society in which the unit of account is not the dollar, but human knowledge. This utopian picture today is probably a rare scenario of feeling the real present, blocking us not only from branding, but from politics, the influence of money and the media. But her utopianism, caused by modern worldview stereotypes, still makes her skeptical, not perceiving it as a real alternative to the existing system of perceiving reality.

    Be smart - brands have nothing to do with it

    On the other hand, without brands, our life would probably not be so interesting. We would have much fewer topics to talk about, and someone else’s reality would lose all meaning. Today, you can even talk with brands like with a real person. Brands offer us their views and fantasies, discover new unprecedented worlds. Like music or books. The trouble is that smart books help smart people become stupid, and stupid ones help. Therefore, standing in front of a shelf in a supermarket, just ask yourself which book you want to read.

    Dmitry Chigirin

    Related links
    1. Glory Zizek. Matrix: the truth of exaggeration
    2. Glory Zizek. Welcome to the desert of Real
    3. The Venus Project
    4. Photo: Timmy Gremxul

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