Monday, July 4, 2016

Living Simply

I don't understand marketing.

I'll qualify that. I don't know whether or not I understand why certain brand names sell and others don't. I'm certain that no one would buy a laxative called "At Least It's Laundry Day".

Names for products and services are trendy because their originators are intent on capturing the most up-to-date fads and styles in an effort to appeal to a specific market. Really savvy businesses not only conduct surveys, they also invite potential customers to take part in "focus groups", which seem to me to be a fancy way of saying "representative sample of a desired population". Put another way, focus groups appear to be created by business people as a means to tell a given group of people, "you should eat Bongo-Bongo Peanut Butter And Vodka Corn Flakes because two guys and a gal from Boxers Or Briefs Idaho seem to like them.

This bothers me for multiple reasons. First, I feel left out. I have never received an email, phone call, or postcard inviting me to determine the future success of some up-and-coming company. I think it would be pleasant to be ushered into some corporate setting, invited to sit on a corporate chrome-and-fabric office chair, and asked, on a scale of one to ten, how much I enjoy taunting fish with neoprene rubber swim fins.

Secondly, the names of some products and services are so transient that one wonders what their originators were thinking. I can tell you that I literally had to swallow my Bongo-Bongo Corn Flakes the other day when I came across yet another long-hackneyed "Creative Concepts" business logo. That was uber hip in the nineties. Not so much now.

I'm also bothered by overused motifs for business products. The other day while en route to a supermarket I passed a beauty salon called "Simply Coiffed". Perhaps the salon owner decided to take a minimalist approach to advertising his or her services. (I noted that there was no "Simply Lipstick" sign on the shop next door.) Normally, this wouldn't have registered in my memory. But I began to notice a trend when I opted to buy my favorite brand of citrus drink. I began musing about this as I placed three bottles of "Simply Lemonade" in my basket. I can appreciate the desire to "get back to basics". Maybe the word "simply" in a logo is meant to convey the message that the economy is weak, so we're cutting back to less-involved kinds of product names. I'll worry when I see "Simply Defibrillators" on sale at medical supply houses. I know that it would be a real letdown to see "Doesn't Smell Like An Old Fireplace" laundry detergent retailing at a lower cost than the good stuff with the teddy bear and Febreeze on the label.

Why can't we drop the nonsense and give names to goods which encourage consumers to buy them? I'd much rather head to the checkout with a bag of "Cookie Addiction" than with "These Almost Have Flavor". While we're on the subject, every shampoo I've ever used promises to make my hair "manageable", "silky soft", "radiant", and "luxurious" -practically to be nominated for an Oscar due to my gorgeous tresses and their "swingy, vibrant" qualities. (And I thought power words were for resumes. Silly, radiant me.)

The whole issue has me feeling tired of the pretense, including the disingenuous appearance to "harken back to a simpler time" with pseudo-honest branding. As far as I can tell, no one seems to be interested in either grandiose product names or Spartan ones. My favorite brand of lemonade might as well be called "Here's Your Drink, Pal. Try Not To Spill It On The Rug This Time." Living simply doesn't necessitate depriving ourselves of interesting brand names.

I simply wanted to make a point.

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