Is branding dead?

Hugh MacLeod thinks so. “Branding. Is. Dead. We thought just marketing and advertising were dead. Nope. Branding kicked the bucket, too.” Doc Searls adds, “In any case, branding, that concept Procter & Gamble borrowed from the cattle industry, ain’t what it used to be.”

In my opinion and experience, there is a difference between a brand and branding. The former is determined by the market. The latter is an entire industry built around the “manufacture of consent” theories of the early 20th century.

“Brand management” is an oxymoron, because it assumes a brand is determined from the top-down. It isn’t. In that sense, branding is not only dead; it was never alive.

Transparency is replacing blue smoke and mirrors, and I think this is the real issue here. We’re drowning in marketing in the U.S., and the lifeboat is that wonderful, bottom-up place we call the Internet.


  1. Very very well put. This helps me clear out the cobwebs on the subject.
    The word “Branding” is still with us. I suppose it’s like many words and constructions in the English language — it gives us the illusion of control.

  2. Very very well put. The word Branding is still with us though. Like much English in usage, it’s there to give us the illusion of control.

  3. Brand managers are just losing control to customer who can talk back to them online and have it documented for everyone to see. Blogging puts the customers into control. You’re right, blogs are opportunities and also threats to brands.

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