The world that we live in today, a majority of the population anywhere are very particular about the things they allow into their life. From owing their allegiance to all Apple gizmos to frowning at the mention of some whisky brand that does not suit their taste to even other minuscule yet profound things like the brand of water they drink, people have evolved to be quite particular about what they prefer. And even when it might seem like something the filthy rich and the uber sophisticated would do, the reality is that even the most ordinary of men and the most common of existences are not free from the rule exerted by brands on our lives.
This explains why so many brand names rule our lives today as if they are almost staples. While these might be unconscious, even unaware manifestations of the way consumerism works, these instances still are poignant in that they serve as a mirror to what the brand game can do and indeed does in the greater scheme of things. From photoshopping images to xeroxing documents, from refreshing ourselves with a bottle of Coca Cola to not quite feeling the punch without our go to brand of popcorn for those movie nights, our lives today are defined by brands. Necessarily, this translates also to finer requisites of life like the clothes we wear, the watch we sport, the bag we carry and of course the phone we flaunt. From dreaming about wearing a Sabyasachi someday even though we know full well of him being another guy out of our league to coveting exclusively a BMW or Audi even when we aren’t even the least interested in a world beyond our books, we tend to yield in to the allure of brands not always by choice as well. To the extent that we go all crazy about labels and stuff even when we aren’t exactly someone to be perturbed much by the inscribed name or the embossed logo on things just speaks about the tremendous influence brands can have on our lives.
In such pursuit of the branded existence, it is no wonder that millions of consumers today are catered to also by a host of fake brands that at times rob them of money and at the other being a means for the less fortunate to also indulge in a showy display of status. And why just blame the many people who flock together in the same direction when it comes to coveted brand names. The onus lies also on these legions and legions of branded companies that claim to churn out all things limited edition, say in haute couture fashion and thrives on for years through the sheer value of its name. In projecting themselves as the iconic name that many covet, through marketing tactics that can seriously topple over even the most logical of understandings that people hold of life in all its encompassing folds, brands build themselves up by categorically targeting its consumer base. With such concepts as emotional branding in work, brands in fact end up manipulating our thoughts and choices, even our needs and wants to create a version of themselves through which they can absolutely rule over our lives.
Many a times however, our loyalty for brands or rather our dependence on them turns out to be more a matter of habit than of inclination. As we get used to what we have been using all through, it begins to play on our psychology- the impact that a thing of routine use can exert on our entire existence can be monumental. And this manifestation of staying true to our brand of choice is something that perhaps tends to be an idealistic notion. It helps also that brands constantly evolve themselves, working on delivering such products and experiences that are in sync with current trends or that which works on consumer feedback to come up with what is expected of them. Ultimately, the allegiance to brands can mean different things for different individual. For some it can be a pretentious display of class that which has them obsessing over the label they flaunt, for others it can be a more rooted norm that which characterise their existence. Either way though, one thing is apparent- that brands rule our lives irrespective of whether we let them or not.
The level of exertion that brands enjoy in each category of lifestyle however is markedly different. Take for instance those insanely rich celebrities who swear by the brand even in the water they drink, shelling millions for a single bottle of that life giving liquid that which in most cases is available at a nominal cost to most of us. Bring also to mind numerous recollections of how public figures had continued living the rich life way beyond their means in terms of brands of course apart from other luxuries as well, and how they had to face as public a scrutiny when they had to finally file for bankruptcy owing to all that extravagance. With incidents like these not few and far between, it indeed is appalling that brands, or riches for that matter has come to dictate so much the ‘essence’ of our lives that we try to keep up with them even when our finances would not allow us to. We argue that we like the look that this particular big name carries or the feel that the brand we wear grants us or even the instant good health endowed by our brand of favorite breakfast cereal. While all such validations stemming from us might be true, more often than not it also is a conditioning of the mind that which leads us to believe that we are rendered better off by the big brands. It’s amusing how our shared preference for a particular brand can also lead us to bond over the love we profess or how as loyal followers of competing brand we tend to pit ourselves against each other in our lives as if we have been commissioned by those big names to fight their face off battles! Even when it sounds too far fetched, instances like these are not uncommon and ardent followers of the same name does indeed enjoy a camaraderie that does not come naturally to all.
The fact that brands rule our lives can also be validated by how massively they plan and pitch to bring our favorite celebrities on board with them. In having these famous personalities associate themselves with their big name, brands influence our choices in a rather passive manner as well. It only is natural a following of hero worship that we are drawn to whatever our idols profess and preach, even when it comes to something obviously commercial and businesssque as endorsing brands and their products. In roping the biggest of names from different realms of public presence, brands exert an influence on our lives we don’t even conceive them to be capable of. But why this discussion on the impact that brands have on us when all they are doing is letting us live the best lives possible as per our liking? This is because brands actually are a lesser evil, if one at all, than what we have made out of them. The issue isn’t one that concerns the brand we flaunt and take pride in or even the fact that we tend to make so much out of it for ourselves. The bigger concern is when we make so much a fuss about brands when we identify others. From putting down someone who isn’t necessarily as aligned to the branded notion as us to deigning them inferior because we believe since they don’t flaunt it, they cannot afford it, is what is problematic when it comes to our lives. In allowing brands to rule our lives to the extent that we value what is a mere name or a logo more than an individual who has endured it all simply by virtue of living a life, we undermine the worth of individuals and overmine the value of goods. The question should therefore not be whether brands rule our lives our not, it should rather be if they should be let to become so much of an entity in the human sphere that we deign it impossible to live our lives without them.