Brand Haze

Staring at nothing in particular whilst sitting in the barber-shop waiting to get my haircut this morning. My mind randomly wandered back to the few days spent in Sweden a couple of weeks ago. In particular I recalled a moment whilst we were driving along an urban motorway in Stockholm – and I spotted a Volvo estate car. OK – so that’s not too hard to do in Sweden – there are Volvo’s everywhere – but there was something strange about this particular one.

As it overtook us it suddenly clicked: although it was obvious that it was a Volvo – there were no brand markings on it. No Volvo badge – no style badge. Not even the usual sticker you see on the rear window advertising Volvo’s Side Impact Protection System (SIPS). It was almost as if the owner had gone to great lengths to remove all brand markings from the car.

I pointed out this strange car to our Swedish host – but he said something like: “Here in Sweden – some people do like to unbrand their cars.”

Back in the barber-shop. This got me thinking. Imagine if we tried to get rid of all “branding” in our lives. What would it be like? How much effort would it take to convert all our worldly objects into unbranded generic objects?

When I got back home I spent a few minutes going around the house with my digital camera – taking a few random pictures of everyday household objects with brand identities – in situ. It’s amazing how much “brand” there is in our lives – and how often we take “brand” for granted. I’m sure the world would be a less emotional place without them.

Click on the green button below load a Shockwave Flash presentation of some of the brand haze in my home. It’s about 4 megabytes in size – and should only take a few mins to load if you have DSL/Cable or other high-speed Internet connection. I’ve added a high-quality musical accompaniment – it’s a song that I found on a too-cheap-to-be-true (unbranded) music CD I got from a street-seller in Southall Broadway a couple of months back. It’s a modern Indian song, probably produced in the UK – but I have no idea what the song is called, who the artist is, or what album it’s from – but it is a beautiful song. Turn up the volume and enjoy.

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