OBD by qingyunliuliu



Conley: A contributing writer for Fast Company, ESPN
magazine, and The Boston Globe

―A successful brand creates a positive association in a customer‘s mind, sells a promise,
and tells a story about who we are. The virtues of creating brand identity to attract
product sales have been acknowledged for decades. But branding—once considered a
helpful, rather than necessary, flourish—has assumed status in today‘s world as a key
ingredient to winning business.

  America pours upwards of $300 billion dollars into branding every year. On any given
day, each of us is bombarded by between 3,000 and 5,000 ads. In myriad ways, we are
subtly branded through every chapter of our lives: by the clothes whose logos we
complacently sport, by the music we listen to, by the beverages we drink and the food we
eat, by the books we read, even by the neighborhoods in which we choose to live.
  With hundreds of new products arriving on retail shelves every day, and the rise of
cheaper foreign brands and the house brands of mega-stores like Target and Wal-
Mart, American companies are increasingly resorting to image overhauls to attract
customers in lieu of improvements to product quality or functionality. Identity, in a
sea of nearly indistinguishable items, is more important than ever before. Yet while
innovative packaging commands attention, it often does so at considerable cost to the
businesses and consumers responsible for fueling an industry of shape-shifting.”1

Conley’s book touched on two areas: branding versus innovation and the
experience economy.


―According to Conley, branding messages have infiltrated many aspects of Americans‘
lives, including education, sex and health care. They are exposed to between 3,000 and
5,000 advertisements a day, and in 2006 about
$300 billion was spent by U.S. advertisers trying to
reach consumers.
Chapter 1
―Place branding, or destination branding, is
a fast-growing segment of the branding industry.
Branding initiatives are alive and well in places as
disparate as Sarasota, Florida, … and almost every
country in Africa. … Consistently ranked among the top three most corrupt nations in
the world, Nigeria launched the $3 million Nigerian Image Project in 2004. The
branding campaign has since been re-launched as The Heart of Africa Project. After its‘
34 day war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel ranked last in the 2006 Nation Brand
Index (NBI), a study of 36 countries‘ brands. BIG, the Brand Israel Group, now aims to
reposition the country with a strategy of ―downplaying religion and avoiding any
discussion of the conflict with the Palestinians.‖

Branding in the US

―Like a state bird or flower, every state requires a brand. The State Brand Index, an
―analytical ranking of the brands of all U.S. States,‖ can be purchased for $32,000. Half
of the convention and visitors‘ bureaus in the country have opened their doors (to
marketers.) Most place brands are vague, interchangeable,
and ultimately forgettable, such as:

   ―As Big As You Think‖ (Kansas - $1.7 million/year)

   ―We Love Dreamers‖ (Oregon - $2 million/year)

   ―Possibilities … Endless‖ (Nebraska – the 12 state slogan
    since 1972)

   1999, dot.com boom; Seattle was rebranded – See@L

   Washington State paid $442,000 over 18 months to
    develop and promote ―SayWa‖

   NJ paid: $260,000 for ―New Jersey: We‘ll Win You

Chapter 2: Feeding the Monster
The shifting market place, pressure for companies to update their products, knockoffs
from Asia, and the instantaneous speed in delivering the product is challenging for
brands today.

                               Cincinnati, United States Playing Card Company
                              (USPCC). The famed makers of Aviator, Bee, Bicycle, and
                              Hoyle cares, USPCC has been producing cards and games
                              for 140 years. Bicycle, its best-known brand, is the most
                              trusted card in the world: The choice of Vegas casinos and
                              poker tournaments is regarded as the gold standard among
                              many magicians and for a century has been the best selling
                              playing card on the market. But fueled by a recent surge in
                              poker‘s popularity and the high margins of selling layered
paper in polymeric plastic film for several dollars a deck, cheap alternatives and Bicycle
knockoffs began to challenge the USPCC. USPCC had to swallow its pride and call up
the branders. But when the product is as simple as a poker chip, there‘s not much that
branding can do. Even Bicycle Pro – a new line of cards with slightly retooled bicycle
pattern and easier-to-read symbols – isn‘t much of a change to the average consumer.
Especially when the competitor sells for almost half the cost.

More than 35,000 new products are released every year. Mostly 9 out of 10 will fail by
year‘s end. Inundated with choices, consumers have adapted, even in the face of
increasingly shorter product cycles. Lines are continually discontinued.

We are hooked on: newer, faster, more specialized, and more limited products.

KNOCKOFFS: Many American companies fall ‗victim‘ of the low-cost competitors out
of Asia, India, South America, and elsewhere. … Shadow brands: inexpensive, familiar
offerings with names like: Soby (electronics), Chery (cars), and Prado (handbags).

Not just a similar name, in 2005 Chery sold a vehicle called the QQ that was identical to
Chevy‘s Daewoo model, the Spark. Chevy sued, Chery settled out of court.
    Honda: Hongda
    Rover: Roewe
    Wal-Mart: Wumart
The Wall Street Journal caught china Unicom openly acknowledging on its website that
it‘s Redberry phone was piggybacking on Research in Motion‘s Blackberry brand. The
Redberry name was picked to ―extend the image and name of the ‗Blackberry‘ that
people are already familiar with.‖ – According to the company.

Generic brands; Private-label good were essential polite, inferior knockoffs ten years
ago. Cheap alternatives, now they are just as good if not better.

     Brand Extensions: Overextending the brand, requires that companies effectively
     assume more space in the consumer‘s life by rooting the brand even deeper. Today we
     can purchase a ridiculous array of products inspired by brand extremism: Ferrari brand
     computers, Play-Doh brand scented perfume; Chicken Soup for the Soul brand pet food.
     This trend inspired a ‗Worst Brand Extension contest by NY branding firm, Tipping
     Sprung. Past winners include: Harley-Davidson brand cake decorating kits, Cheetos
     brand lip balm, and Burger King Boxers!

Swiffer: appeared from SNL to Rolling Stone

X Large, Duster, WetJet, SweeperVac, Carpet Vac,
and more.

Building your brand the old fashioned way … page 62-65

Companies who consistently produce what people like without worrying about excessive
advertising and branding are sometimes more successful in the long run…

                   Zara: .03 % in advertising; 64 in Interbrand‘s
                   2007 global brand ratings; in front of Rolex (71),
                   and Motorola (77), and Prada (99)

                   (Good design, inexpensive materials, impressive
                   supply chain)

                   GAP (61): hundreds of millions each year
                   promoting brands with celebrities

                    In-N-Out Burger: rarely advertises or speaks to the press. $217
                    million in revenues, menu is simple, great food, and no heat lamps.
                    Expansion from California, Az, and Nevada.

McDonalds: $1.7 billion in 2006 on advertising.

*In-N-Out would have outsold their competitor if they didn‘t
close on Xmas and Thanksgiving!

*** What makes Zara and In and Out Burger successful is not their disdain for
advertising; rather that they make a quality product that people like, at a good value.

               … Like a great music artist … do they NEED a lightshow?

Chapter 3 … Experience economy: an attempt to reach consumers by branding
their experiences, memories and emotional connections. …the brain, when stimulated
by emotion, will act 3,000 times faster than normal. Experiences open up emotional
shortcuts, even the drabbest brands are seeking ways to infuse emotion into their
products. Emotional manipulation is being used to undermine consumers‘ critical
thinking skills. Consequently, Conley notes, ―consumers are willing to pay up to 200
percent more when basing their decision on emotion rather than reason.‖

The author attributes the decline of research and development in the U.S. to an
emphasis on image over services and products. For example, while an average of 150
everyday items satisfy 80-85 percent of consumers‘ needs, more than 35,000 new
products appear each year. Of these new products, Conley notes, nine out of 10 will fail.

―With such fierce competition for so little space, brands are forced to strategize on how
best to bond with consumers,‖ he writes. Therefore, instead of developing better
products, companies tend to re-brand because it is easier and less expensive.

Product placement in the media has increased significantly in recent years, constantly
bombarding our senses through branded television shows, films and, most recently,

                              The average customer is rationally motivated by price; the
                              brand is emotionally driven. Check out the relative
                              sameness in the TP aisle in the grocery tore. Customers
                              RARELY will rely on emotions here except if they have
                              danced with the Charmin Bear.

                              Potty Palooza, Charmin‘s 27 room deluxe traveling
                              bathroom facility painted sky blue with puffy clouds,
                              latched to the bed of an 18 wheeler makes it presence.

Check out: Charmin Commercials; and NYC

For a brand to be successful, it must capitalize on the organic underpinnings of the
human experience – community, relationship, and values – in an effort to create

Today‘s consumer are inundated with opportunities to personalize every facet of our
lives, TiVo, customized sneakers, M&M‘s printed with personalized messages, cell ring

tones and ring backs. Twenty years ago buying a Ford meant choosing colors, engines,
and a flat bed. Now there are 100‘s of options. Even a Harley F150 is available. Does
owning an F150 today men more than in the past? Do options reinforce customer‘s
sense of identity? If more options don‘t add meaning, what else will?

These are the human values that brands can benefit from aligning themselves too…

Oneness, brotherhood, truth, wonder, accomplishment, security, freedom, justice, love,
duty, wisdom, etc… the psychology and tactics helping us shape our sense of self for
years. The advances in marketing afford us more enriching brand experiences.

                 Example: Diamonds pay a meaningful role in most American‘s lives:
                 80%/brides in the US receive a diamond ring. We can trace the
                 significance of a diamond to the 30‘s and 40‘s when the DeBeers
                 Company launched an aggressive national campaign to bring
                 attention to it‘s product. Between 39 and 1979, wholesale diamond
                 sales grew from $21 million to $2.1 billion.

Hallmark has been criticized for years of popularizing and profiting from any number
of so-called Hallmark holidays, such as ―Christmas in July‖ or ―Boss‘s Day‖.

 People choose brand because they align themselves with their meaning.
             They are assigning and aligning their values!

Example: Luv’s diapers … you can understand mothers through the diapers they
purchase. Branding specialists won Proctor and Gamble‘s ‗First Moment of Truth‖
award two years in a row, had ot closely examine the competitor‘s appeal when they
were strategizing for the Luvs campaign. Up against industry leaders (Pampers and
Huggies), Luvs was the ―The red-headed, ugly, adopted stepchild‖ of diaper brands.
Distinguishing Luvs from the others was quite difficult…

Pampers focuses on Mom. Images focus on mom doting over baby – we do this, are
you a good mom too?
Huggies focuses on the child.
Luvs are less expensive and focused their ads by showing dad or a sibling in there.
Message is real: Life is more important than the brand you buy. … That‘s the overt
message (in reality – it‘s the opposite.)

Chapter 4
Another form of ―ad creep‖ is invisible branding.

Product Placement (FILM): A cooperative partnership
between brand and a film, book, or tv show has undeniable
advantages. The creators of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of
Ricky Bobby, a hokey hit comedy parodying NASCAR, claim
they weren‘t paid to feature the brands Wonder Bread, KFC,
and Old Spice throughout the film, though actors Will Ferrell
and John C. Reilly wore branded racing outfits to
promotional interviews on TV talk shows. IN exchange for
product placement, Wonder Bread promoted the film nationwide with specially printed
packages of bread. In a cooperative gesture, Old Spice spent $2.3 million to help boost
the film.

Product Placement (publishing): Proctor and Gamble made its notorious foray
(venture) into publishing in 2006 when it struck a deal with the authors of Cathy‟s Book
to weave Cover Girl eye shadow and lipstick into the plot of their young adult novel. In
                            return, P &G agreed to promote the
                            book on one of their websites.

                              Click Cathy’s Book pix for

Product Placement (pharmaceuticals):
According to PPNews, pharmaceutical brands were mentioned
on TV shows 462 times in 2006 – twice as often as in 2004. Once contraceptive showed
up 11 times in one half hour episode of NBC‘s Scrubs.

         In 2006: US Advertisers spent $300 billion; about $10,000/second!

            That‟s anywhere between: 3,000 and 5,000 ads/day! WOW!

Buzz Agents

Blogs, social networking sites, global interactive video games, and ever expanding
technology brands are being forced to think beyond the standard thirty-second TV ad to
reach their customers. … How do we break through the clutter?

Funding for blogs, videos, and guerrilla advertising is often impossible to distinguish
brand propaganda from genuine demonstrations of customer devotion.

My Example: SPLENDA! Advertisements banned in France

           Magazine ads doctored to look like medical articles!

With thousands of commercials to choose from and TiVo, traditional 30 second spots
have become woefully inefficient! Historically considered the most reliable form of
marketing, word-of-mouth advertising has become formalized with ―buzz agents‖ —
described by Conley as everyday people who make personal recommendations to friends
and neighbors without revealing they are working for a company. In turn, buzz agents
are compensated for their services in products or cash from the company.

DO-NOT-CALL Registry: launched in 2003 -10million households signed in the first
3 days. Today it includes over 145 million phone numbers including cell phones. Its
expensive not only for telemarketers but for companies that break the rules. Fines for
companies such as Direct TV have reached nearly $5.3 million.

Crazy Stuff:
1800 Flowers and Smirnoff offer wedding sponsorship

St. Louis: woman auctioned off the right to sponsor the birth of her child and allow a tech co. to film and
post the event online. She wore co t-shirts and tattooed her belly with co. name.

2006 Disney gave American pastors the opportunity to win $1,000 and a trip to Disney World if they
mentioned The Chronicles of Narnia from the pulpit!

Chapter 5

If you did a quick search on David Manning you will find a number of people including:

               British ambassador

               Major League Baseball pitcher

               A movie critic

The last is a figment of the imagination of a pair of marketing executives! Created out of
thin air by Sony execs during the summer of 2000, Manning purported to work for the
Ridgefield Press, a weekly in Connecticut unaware of this fictitious employee. Hollow
Man – „One Helluva of a Ride”, A Knight‟s Tale, The Patriot, The Animal – “Another
winner”. Claiming each were fantastic despite the other reviews in the country! These
reviews and movie quotes were pasted all over websites, billboards, cover boxes, and
print ads across the country!

…. He was discovered the following summer along with the fact that Sony employees
were cast as satisfied movie goers!

…. Sony pulled the ads and suspended those responsible. The studio paid $326,000 in
damages to the State of Connecticut, but refused to refund movie goers who felt cheated.

While David Manning may be ludicrous, think about the next time you talk to your
neighbor about diapers. She might begin a chat by recommending Pampers or a
comparable brand, talking to you about how it makes her baby feel and how the diaper
is the best around. What you don‘t know is that your fellow citizen has actually been
dispatched by Pampers to offer WOM about the diapers. 2 Companies such as
VocalPoint and Tremors offer coupons or discounts in return for your WOM services.

―67% of consumers cite WOM product recommendations as their primary sources of
information for making purchasing decisions.

  Jordan Richardson. Book Review: OBD - Obsessive Branding Disorder - The Illusion of Business and the
 Business of Illusion by Lucas Conley Published August 11, 2008

Chapter 6: Invisible Branding!
For the first 30 years drivers indicated they were turning by signaling with his arm.
 Initially an optional accessory, blinkers soon became mandatory. Since 1938, bulbs
have been added, and though the wattages have changed – little in the indicator has
evolved as far as mechanics: The driver depresses a lever, an innocuous tapping
indicates the signal, and the light flashes outside the car.

In 2008 drivers and their passengers will spend an average of 18 hours listening to
blinkers. If Ford or Toyota design the turn signal – why should it be generic? Car
brands are meticulously positioned (Fabric of the seats, steel grill, etc. Why didn‘t it
occur to anyone to differentiate a Ford from Chevy in regard to blinkers?
Current law requires that a turn signal flash at a standard rate – between 60 and
120x/minute – but it says nothing about sound. Some day you will be able to close your
eyes and know the sound of the car by the blinker.

                             Anticipated Sensory Branding
Standing in line at a fast food restaurant, customers may recognize where they are by
the sound the straw makes by poking it through the lid. We already recognize that
Starbucks straws are __________________ and McDonald‘s are ____________.

Walk down a grocery store aisle where light fragrances are emitted from coupon

Rotuba Extrusions, a 59 year old NJ company that makes high-impact durable plastics
like Sears Craftsman tools, and lesser known products such as Auracell, a dynamic
plastic material that can take on any shape and smell!
Major brands such as Tide get their scent from Auracell‘s 33,000 scent library! Others
like toy and cell-phone manufacturers are just entering the market!

2005: New America Marketing began installing fruit punch-scented coupon dispensers
in the aisles of Acme stores to promote children‘s Motrin. Engineered to be smelled 3-4
inches away, the dispensers were designed to draw curious customers close –
particularly kids who‘s noses passed closer to them.

In the works: cologne infused golf balls, T-Shirts, Huggies diapers, scented plastic for
Suave shampoo bottles, video chains building in the smell of scented popcorn, hair clips,
and sunglasses … in the PACKAGING!

If a consumer can figure out what a product smells like from cellophane wrap or the
lid of a package there is not reason to open the box or break seals. Scents also verify
BRAND AUTHENTICITY and distinguish the genuine article from a knockoff!

High tech audio in Retail Settings:

―Hey you, over here. Don‘t turn around,‖ a nearby voice whispers as you walk through
the mystery section of your bookstore. You turn but no one is there. ―Can you hear me?
DO you ever think about murder, committing the ultimate crime? I do. All the time.‖
      High tech acoustic device dubbed the „mystery whisperer‟ installed in the aisles
      of a handful of Manhattan bookstores by Court TV to promoting a series of
      murder mysteries called “Murder by the Book,” Standing in the Steven King
      Section you ear it as well! IF you slide over to other thrillers you do not.

High Tech in Video Games
Audiobrain, the world‘s premier sonic branding firms in the world is responsible for the
humdrum, everyday sounds that buttons make they are repeatedly pressed billions of
times each day.

XBOX: Sounds that players hear regardless of the game in the menu whether it is Call
of Duty or MVP Baseball!
Audiobrain is located in Manhattan‘s flatiron district, the company offices re tucked
behind an unmarked door, in a nondescript building. Their employees are musicians
and composers. Their clients include: IBM, American Express, HBO etc. They work on
the music heard for on-hold hotlines, background during a sales conference, video game
start up sounds, etc.

Corporations want their company to have a sound personality that coincides with the

Like a blinker in a car, the sound is deeply rooted in the experience of the brand! After
hearing it over and over, players will ignore it, but if they didn‘t hear it = their attention
would be snagged up! Like Pavlov‘s dog, Xbox video games and any number of other
major industries have rencelty embraced similar audio branding techniques. Southwest
Airlines has a clever trademark DING! Customers can even install the company‘s Ding!
Software on their computer desktop so they hear the familiar sound throughout the day
when SW posts a new low fare!

Audio brain is responsible to make sure the sound of the company matches the product,
brand and experience they want you to feel! IT all ties in together. The cost per project
ranges between $50,000 and $1 million!

An Interview with Conley:
―Republic: Perhaps there is no better example of the power of branding than the Coke-Pepsi debate
you write about. Pepsi has continued to win in blind taste tests over the past 30 years, but when taste
tests include the Coca-Cola brand, Coke wins out. Why is that? It's emotion, right?
Conley: In a study mentioned in the book, in the late 1990s, neuroscientists actually set up a brain scan (with
the taste test) and we found that the majority of people prefer Pepsi on the first run, when they couldn't see it,
the blind test case. On the second run, when they put the cans out in front of them, a majority of them preferred
When they looked at the brain scans (of the second run), the actual images, the frontal cortex was lighting up.
That's the area of the brain where we store our sense of identity, history and self, all our memories and how we
think about ourselves and our aspirational identity. The conclusion, and it's kind of been backed up again and
again in various studies, is that we associate ourselves with certain brands almost to the degree where it
overrides our taste buds. It has a physical effect on us, whether it's about status or with identity or just the
ubiquity of Coke, when you consider Coke as the American brand.
Republic: I was surprised - or maybe I wasn't - that you point out that Americans are bombarded by
3,000 to 5,000 ads on any given day. After awhile, don't ads lose their impact?
Conley: The caveat to that is when you open your fridge, you're probably looking at 100 (brands). You've got
the logos and labels of all the products facing you. I think the number that I saw was that, in 1971, it was
somewhere around 500 to 600 (a day). Now, it's 3,000 to 5,000. That's one generation, a multiple of 10.
Advertisers are defeating themselves. The more they try to generate more material to get our attention, the less
we pay attention to any of it.
Republic: Whatever happened to generic brands? You know, if the product was dog food, the package
would just say "dog food" or potato chips would just say "potato chips" with no brand.
Conley: I used to love that - an ugly, black-and-white box that said "cake mix." A fascinating trend, that in the
past 15 years, they vanished, but they're still there.
They're now private labels or store labels. If you walk into a Target, what you'll see is that those generics have
become brands, and they've grown astronomically. I think it's been double-digit growth in the private-label
market nine of the past 10 years. People are starting to figure out, "Why would I buy Sudafed if this product
right here next to it is exactly the same chemical?" ... Not only that, (often) it's manufactured by the same
company. If Sudafed makes the "Sudafed" (knockoff) we sell, there's no reason to buy the Sudafed except for
the colored box. They're the same products in different boxes, whether they're paper towels or Sudafed or
potato chips.3”

    Branding and your brain A conversation about how you're influenced to buy and vote

Aug. 17, 2008 12:00 AM

The third section of the book examines new branding research methods and
personal branding. … Americans will increasingly see themselves as brands — as
goods defined more by their packaging than their contents.‖ Conley describes obesity,
smoking and gambling as marketing-related diseases and warns that even small
increases in marketing effectiveness could be detrimental to public health. He appeals to
consumers to rein in obsessive branding before it becomes commonplace and accepted.
The author asserts that it is up to the consumer to decide where the balance is and how
much is too much branding.‖ 4

―Bottom Line:

          People gravitate to brands because they offer us mental shortcuts, helping us cut
          through the clutter of everything we buy.
         Companies may look to change their image when in fact it is their core offering
          that needs to be overhauled, because a new logo is much more easily rendered
          than a better product line.
         Billions of dollars are spent in the pursuit of what may be wasteful rebranding.
          For example, AT&T's 2006 branding campaign was its twenty-third in 25 years.
         Today's marketplace is one where items once seen as commodities are now
          branded. At the same time, the level of competition and the ease with which
          products can be copied speaks to the utility of being able to tell similar offerings
         In an effort to sway consumer decisions, companies are pursuing what may be
          seen as ever more insidious promotional campaigns. Sony invented a fake movie
          critic to favorably review its films while Procter & Gamble controls a network of
          thousands of word-of-mouth advocates. ― 5

4Carroll Brown, assistant professor of hospitality and tourism in the College of Business at Western Carolina University. Source:
Do Americans suffer from ‘obsessive branding disorder’? February 1, 2009

5W.P. Carey. OBD: Obsessive Branding Disorder": Has Branding Jumped the Tracks? Published: August 04,
2008 in Knowledge@W.P. Carey


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