Branding practices of companies especially multinationals have been subjected to various criticism and arguments from different stakeholders and activists. In spite of the growing success of branding as a corporate activity there have been also a big rise in the anti brand activism. In this essay, I will discuss the main different arguments used in these critiques, No Logo movement, Social and cultural effects of global branding, ethical branding, disease branding. And implications of these criticisms on changing branding strategies of top brands.
For over than 1000 years brands have been exist, but we have never seen the power of branding on society as it is seen today. Brands are prevalent in every aspect of our human life: food, clothing, technologies, lifestyle, personality and even politics. Branding is no longer about adding value to the product; branding represents and promotes lifestyles and brands themselves become a kind of culture (Fan, 2005). Brands are now gunning for a share of customer inner lives, their values, their beliefs, their politics and their souls (Hall, 1999). Brands and branding now have big impact on the whole society not just on those people who buy them. Employees, suppliers and wider community are also affected by different branding decisions. On the other hand, brands may be considered now the most important assets of many of the global corporations and may be their most vulnerable assets as well (Conroy, 2007) Ethical branding relates to certain moral principles that define right and wrong behaviors in branding decisions .The brand needs to be evaluated not just by economic or financial value but also by the moral ones. A good brand should be ethical and legal one as well an ethical brand should not harm the public good but it should help or promote public good (Fan, 2005). An ethical brand enhances the firm reputation which reinforces the brand in turn. That’s why any unethical behavior will damage or even destroy the total intangible asset of the corporation which has been seen recently in many high profile corporate scandals (Fan, 2005). The branding decisions of many multinational corporations have been ethically questionable, the more successful the brand is, the more likely its branding strategy may become ethically questionable (Fan, 2005).The reason for these contemporary critiques is directed towards the argument that brands infuse all aspects of life as an interface between the rational producer and emotional customer dichotomy (Kornberger, 2010). And what most of the main critiques have in common is that they raise ethical questions about the intensions of the global branding activities and their implications. For example, Microsoft was imposed a record of 497 million Euros fine by EU for an anti – competitive behavior when it aims with monopoly with active attempt to eliminate competition (Fan, 2005). Although there is nothing wrong if one brand succeed to dominate the market. The image and the value of the brand are also affected by non branding decisions that are made on the marketing or the business level which are criticized by many anti branding activists, for example: exploitation, sweatshops, animal testing, Child labor and other labor disputes. These decisions affect the organization's brand image and usually made by people other than brand managers with little consideration to ethical issues. The brand image and the corporate reputation are always the victim (Fan, 2005). It is not the brand or the logo which is criticized, but the brand corporate policies and unethical branding strategies that are responsible for all the wrong doings and the criticism. Brands are not guilty of social and environmental damage but corporation are guilty and lows that allow unethical practice are guilty (Fan, 2005). Corporations may spend millions of dollars on global branding activities, but small mistake in production or an attempt to cut expenses to gain...
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