Too Much Branding Makes My Week Weary

Just as I was recounting all the reasons I have to be thankful post-Thanksgiving, including the fact that my iPhone survived two dips in the loo after two 24-hour stints in a bag of rice, a Facebook post from a friend and fellow marketer, Pamela Narins, grabbed my attention:

“NPR reports on the fact that Black Friday was followed by Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and NOW, Giving Tuesday. It is my fervent hope that we will be met with Shut the Heck Up Wednesday, Give Me a Break Thursday, and Oh Please Friday.” I would like to suggest adding No-Name Sunday.

What’s with the need to cleverly name everything today? Have we become such a consumer society that we feel we must brand any and all products and services? And does excess branding increase or decrease the power of a brand to convey meaning to and build a relationship with a consumer? Or to put it another way: Do Personalized Julie M&M’s® muddle my M&M® experience?

Don’t get me wrong. I like brands. My business career focuses on branding, brand personalities, brand audits, brand management, brand archetypes, brand positioning, brand-person relationships and brand planning. Brands belong to companies, products, services and maybe even experiences — go ahead, brand your wedding a palooza — but can you make a normal day a brand?

The short answer is yes. The branded days around Thanksgiving do convey meaning, help consumers complete life tasks and even create community or affiliation opportunities. In that respect Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday are creating relationships with and providing benefits to people. All part of what brands can and should do. The Black Friday shopping experience is different than shopping on any other Friday in the year. The Cyber of Cyber Monday does differentiate it from other Mondays, which is what a good brand does.

However, Monday is Monday. Calling it Cyber Monday doesn’t make it anymore enjoyable. In fact, it adds to the burden of an already burdensome day. First, I have to re-enter the workweek from a four-day weekend of family, food and football and then the branding elves pressure me to spend hours surfing online for deals, plus free shipping.

Along comes Tuesday, which should be called Cut-The-Credit-Card Tuesday if it’s called anything at all, but no, now it’s Giving Tuesday. The idea behind Giving Tuesday started at the 92nd Street Y in New York City as a way to encourage supporting nonprofit organizations during the holiday season. Love the idea and plan to give, just wish my debit card had a chance to cool down from Monday’s activities.

I don’t shop on Black Friday and didn’t have a chance to boost the sales at any boutiques on Small Business Saturday this year. Most Cyber Monday deals passed me by because it was a just a regular (overbooked) Monday in life. My gifts have been made so Giving Tuesday is a Free-From-Spending-Money Day for me. Whew.

Maybe I want to call a Time-Out Wednesday because I’m steeped in consumer marketing and branding and enjoy a non-branded, non-manufactured experience every so often. Much like I enjoyed the time away from my Apple driven life when my iPhone sat in its rice cocoon. Some things should just be what they are. Other things need the brand to be what they are. An M&M® without the M&M® (or a personalized message provided by the M&M®) is just not an M&M®.

Originally published in Huffington Post

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