Brand Strategist and Design www.water-comm.com
‘No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies’ is a book by the Canadian author Naomi Klein. The source of marketing to youth, Klein writes is the identity crises brands suffered when the baby boomers fell off the consumer spectrum. As the baby boomers moved into old age and many passed away, brands had to find new markets.
In the 1990s, brands that thrived included “beers, soft drinks, fast food, chewing gum and sneakers”. “Kids would still pay up to fit in” and “Peer pressure became a powerful marketing tool”. Clothing retailing Elsie Decoteau said of teenagers, “They shop in packs… if you sell to one you sell to everyone in their school.” Klein likens this to extreme keeping-up-with-the-Joneses. Klein astutely points out that cool is “riddled with self doubt”, therefore, the brand has a stake in the self doubt of teenagers.
Klein looks at the rise of the so-called “mega-brand” in the 1990s, and how companies began spending more money advertising their products than making quality items. She divides the book into four distinct parts which link together to highlight the problems with aggressive capitalism— “No Space,” “No Choice,” “No Jobs,” “No Logo.” Each part discusses a specific thread of her thesis, although “No Logo” is geared towards what consumers and businesses can do to fight back.
NO SPACE looks at the history of brands, which are now mega-corporations, such as Nike. Brands are no longer about the product being put into the marketplace, but who has the strongest identity. This comes down to who has the most effective and prolific marketing strategy. Instead of competing to offer consumers the highest quality products, brands are competing to have the most popular and fashionable logo on display.
NO CHOICE looks at the irony of how aggressive marketing restricts consumer choice. The excessive advertising only serves to push out other competitors—Starbucks is cited as a prime example. Large companies, such as Walmart, offer products at exceptionally low prices, turning consumers away from smaller, independent retailers. Consumers behave exactly as the larger corporations want them to; promoting the idea that aggressive marketing is a “good” thing.
NO JOBS Klein highlights what’s so disturbing about the rise of mega-corporations—their power to influence every stage of the process, from production to distribution. When all the components, including supply, invention, marketing, and ancillary chains, are owned by the same company, or a subsidiary, there’s no incentive to push for better deals or fairer conditions. This only leads to shady corporate practices and cost-cutting—which is discussed in part three, “No Jobs.”
Companies such as Nike are now so powerful, and so influential, that they’ve made their mark across the globe. That means they can outsource production to the cheapest locations and pay barely token wages, distancing themselves from corporate responsibility.
NO LOGO This shift in attitudes leads Klein into the final section of the book, “No Logo.” Around the world, as activism takes hold, awareness spreads of the conditions workers are labouring in and the difference between what they’re paid and how much goods are sold for. It also changes consumer opinions on what’s a fair price to pay for something—for example, shoes charged at USD 100 are clearly overpriced based on the profit margin.
What’s interesting is that huge companies are far more responsive to activism than governments and public bodies, encouraging boycotters and protestors to spread their message. They’ve successfully put pressure on companies such as McDonalds and Shell to review their working conditions and production practices, which Klein uses as an example of positive social change. Klein cites the goal of the anti-corporate movement as being a change in corporate behaviour, as opposed to ending marketing and advertising. It promotes social and commercial responsibility, and it improves consumer choice within a given marketplace.
With population explosion, mass consumption and scarcity of natural resources, ethical branding and practicing sustainable living is the one-way highway for the future. No Logo or Pro Logo- we have to preach and practice this.