Monday, 25 August 2014

BBC Documentary Series - Secrets of The Superbrands

I was made aware of these documentaries during my internship and although they are about super brands and techniques these brands use I thought it would be a helpful insight into branding that I could then apply more specifically to branding targeting gender. 


  • When asking people on the street what kind of person they thought bought/had Apple products the following descriptions were made. Young, hip, design type person.
  • There is an air of mystery surrounding Apple as they refuse to talk to any journalists so many are often guessing what is going on, what Apple is working on, which leads to a big build up and excitement surrounding the products. 
  • Many Apple fans have devotion to the brand - brand loyalty. 
  • It is obvious when speaking to people who buy Apple products that the products install feelings in their users, more than just a normal music player, phone, etc. 
  • To find out why they did an MRI scan on an Apple fan. When shown images of Apple products the brain showed enhanced visual attention showing the loyalty to the brand. This enhanced visual attention is similar to showing religious and non religious imagery to someone of great faith. 
  • Religious aspect - stores almost become places of worship and the way they are set out works with this comparison as there are often stone floors, spiral open staircases and big arches. 

  • When asking people on the street what kind of person they thought bought/had Microsoft products the following descriptions were made. Old, someone who makes mistakes, settled, dull.
  • However, 93% of computers use windows.
  • Microsoft produced an advert showing how to use Microsoft software to plan a party, very cheesy and patronising. Linking to them being seen as 'uncool'.
  • Many don't recognise the Xbox as a Microsfot product, as Microsoft is 'uncool' and Xbox is 'cool'. When looking at the box the Xbox comes in it has a very small, missable Microsoft logo on it. 
  • DVD & Blu-Ray, Xbox put a blu-ray player in their X-boxes to encourage people to buy the more expensive Blu-Ray DVD's. 

  • Did go on to talk about Google and Facebook, in particular advertising, but I didn't feel these were as relevant as the more in depth discussions about these two big brands. 


    This documentary didn't focus in too much depth about specific brands, although a few were discussed much of what they were saying could be applied to most fashion brands and explain how they work/what makes them successful. 

    When talking about some designer brands such as Louis Vuitton they explained how they make most of their money selling the cheaper (but definitely not cheap) products such as the sunglasses, rather than the limited clothing. A triangle was used to explain how this hierarchy process works. 

    At the top of the triangle is the exclusive, limited pieces such as dresses seen on celebrities. Items exclusively made. This is where the brands build their kudos as they make their names through celebrity association and producing such high quality, exclusive items. 

    Then there is the middle of the triangle which is the middle-range items that can be bought in store such as hand bags. (Again these are far from cheap)

    There is then the larger section, bottom of the triangle which refers to the range of products that these brands mass produce such as key rings, sunglasses and scarfs. These products are affordable to a much wider reaching audience and this allows the middle class audiences to experience the designer brand. However these items are still significantly more expensive than your everyday scarf or keyring and so the brands make huge amounts of money off these items as they sell so many and at high prices. This is where they make the majority of their profit which allows them to produce the bespoke dresses, etc. that you see celebrities wearing. 

    I found this fascinating as I had never thought about the key rings and scarfs making a lot of money, I feel that most people would presume that the bespoke products would bring in more money, however it makes complete sense that they would profit from these more affordable items as of course they sell a lot more. 

    They went on to visit a factory that produces sunglasses for designers including Louis Vuitton, Chanel, RayBan, Tiffany, etc. Although these brands sell their sunglasses for very high price tags, which makes consumers think they are getting high quality products that would have taken time to craft, etc. When in fact all these brands are made in the same factory, the factory is not a RayBan factory or a Tiffany factory but a generic factory that mass produces for all these brands. 
    This again shows that people invest in these products for the label rather than the quality.

    • A designer brand associated with good taste. A high end brand. 
    • Burberry began to loose it's luxury status when 'hooligans' started to where the iconic and recognisable checked pattern. 
    • British sales were affected because of this. 
    • To come back from this Burberry got a new American, female boss to re-look at the brand. She put the checked pattern back on the inside of the clothing to make it more of a subtle reference, and the profits went back up and so Burberry regained its high end status. 
    • This shows that association is very important for brands and this can lead to success or failure. 
    They went on to then carry out the same MRI scan on women to try and see why so many women love designer handbags. 

    When they showed the woman in the scan images of designer handbags there was a reaction in the pleasure centre of the brain, associated with cravings, addiction and rewards. I'm not too sure if these findings tell us anything that we didn't already know but it does clarify that people do have a real passion for such handbags. 

    They then questioned why expense triggers emotion. 
    The presenter then used peacocks as a metaphor explaining that to have and wear expensive things is like making a statement to others saying 'look at what I have, I am so rich, I am desirable'. 
    This links to how people think that to have money and be rich you must be intelligent also, which is a desirable trait. 

    • They asked many people on the street where they thought Superdry was from and all said Japan. This is also where I thought they were from but they are actually an English company and the aesthetic of their brand is actually based on vintage America. But due to the Japanese text used in the brand this association is commonly made. Again showing how associations are made through branding. 
    They then spoke to AdBusters and they explained that brands try and take an emotion and link it to their brand, to help sell. 

    • Whilst talking about the importance of emotion hey discussed how Nike got a bad image when they were known to be employing children in their factories in poor working conditions.
    • There was a back lash and people stopped buying Nike as they didn't want to be seen to be supporting what they had done. 
    • Brand values - people didn't want to be seen to have the same values as Nike. So Nike had to change their values.  


    Coca-Cola & Pepsi
    • Coca-Cola aim for every person to never be far away from a coke logo. 
    • Coca-cola started in 1886 by a pharmacist who sold it as a medicine and brain tonic. It was a brown syrup to be mixed with soda. 
    • Coca-cola own many other drinks. 
    • Coke became vital to the American army during the war as the head of coke supplied them with it. 
    • 'Drinking coke reminds us of what we're fighting for.'
    • This became associated with America and so they couldn't sell to Germans as this would be unpatriotic. So they sold Fanta to the Germans and built many factories in Germany to produce Fanta. They then had the factories to produce coke in these countries when the war was over. 
    • Coke however is still classed as 'too american' in some countries and so the coca-cola sales suffer in these countries. Hence the popularity of Pepsi. 
    • One country where coke is again not as popular is Scotland as Irn-Bru is so popular there. This again links to patriotism and pride. 
    I found this really interesting as I never thought about patriotism when it came to drinks! Again this implies that brands are so much more than just a logo. 


    • To prove that branding can also affect tastebuds they did a test on the street with Heinz beans and supermarkets own brand beans but gave the beans in plain cups with no branding and plenty of people actually said they preferred the cheaper beans when asked to pick out of the two plain cups. However, many of these people had originally admitted to buying Heinz as they said they were better. 
    • Because we believe things about a brand, such as 'these are the best beans', we think they taste better as this is what the brand tells us. 
    They again did the MRI scanner experiment but this time showing the individual familiar food brands and this showed that the same positive feelings were received, similar to the positive feelings when they saw family, friends and people close to them. 


    • Starbucks sell the Italian coffee drinking experience to Americans. This again is more about an experience and feelings rather than simply a logo or specific product. 

    From watching these three documentaries I feel I have more of an understanding of what branding actually is and it is far more than simply a logo or the visual identity. Marketing plays a huge part in making these big brands successful and the marketing techniques used are really part of the brand itself. This has made me think that I should be looking at branding and marketing targeting genders in a broader and more general consumerist sense rather than thinking of the identities alone for my dissertation topic. I think at least going forward this is something I should be looking at even if I narrow it down later on. 

    No comments:

    Post a Comment