Aug 26, 2010  •  In Logos/Branding, Marketing/Advertising, Personal

Brand Associations [Unbranding]

Last night I read about a new marketing trend called “unbranding,” where luxury houses allegedly send out their competitor’s products to keep their own brands from being associated with celebrities who don’t match their brands’ carefully-crafted images.

Unsurprisingly, they used Jersey Shore‘s Snooki as an example; Snooki was originally known to have carried around a Coach bag everywhere but now seems to have gone on to various other designer brands. Not because she is earning more money and able to afford these new purses, nor because publicists and PR staff are sending her free swag to hawk, but because luxury houses are sending her each others’ bags in an attempt to disassociate themselves from the train wreck!

I don’t think I have ever become more loyal, or distanced myself from a particular brand due to celebrity associations. To me, it is more about the design and the quality. Sure, there are some brands to which I am more partial just based on their names, but there is usually a good reason their brands are associated with luxury: their superior products speak for themselves.

The funny thing is that I have found myself placing negative connotations to certain brands as of late. But not because of celebrities or pop culture. Rather, because of spam comments.

Yes, you read that right: spam comments. Because in the past month or so I have been getting tons of spam comments from people pushing (probably counterfeit) luxury brand items — more specifically, from Louis Vuitton and Christian Louboutin. As a result, I have noticed that whenever these two brand names come up, I cringe inside.

I am well aware that Louis Vuitton or Christian Louboutin has no control over these comments. But the fact of the matter is that these spammers have ruined these brands for this blogger, at least for the time being.

I can think of another example which dates all the way back to high school: a girl who used to bully me had a penchant for Prada bags. Because of this girl, I now associate Prada with painful high school memories and have no desire to own a single Prada item.

Again, Prada has had no control over this situation. It is merely due to my own personal experience that I choose to distance myself from this brand.

What about you? Are there certain brands that you are fiercely loyal to, or tend to stay clear of, due to personal experiences? Are you ever swayed by the products that celebrities use?

6 Responses to “Brand Associations [Unbranding]”

  1. Unbranding, that is really fascinating. I think celebrities shilling for companies has a had a negative impression on me in a few cases. I never really liked Dooney & Bourke bags that much but when I saw Lindsey Lohan doing work for them I really lost any interest in it. That and all those hearts.

    I'm not going to lie, if I see a celebrity that I like using something that I can afford then it might influence me. But it isn't enough to make me want to spend more money then I normally would on my products.

  2. Matt:

    I never understood the notion that seeing a celeb publicly using/carrying an item should influence my decision. But apparently it works, considering how much money is spent getting just the "right people" seen with a certain item.

    Once you realize that the celeb in question is at best using the item because it was free and at worst doing so for money, you're kind of forced to realized that this is little more than "Monkey See, Monkey Do".

    I love my BlackBerry. The fact that that gin-soaked train wreck they call Paris Hilton carries one is about as much a factor in that decision as the fact that the newer seasons of Burn Notice have started featuring them. None whatsoever.

    That being said, I love the idea of unbranding. It's sneaky and manipulative.

  3. Ha! I've never heard of unbranding – very clever, I must say. I don't have any negative brand associations based on personal experience. However, there is one perfectly talented musician that I have an aversion to, just because a person I didn't like in high school was obsessed with her.

  4. Unbranding makes total sense to me.

  5. passby:

    Doesn't someone in your family work for LV and used to work for Prada? Maybe you should associate those brands with that person and you'll have a better image of those brands..??

  6. Geek in Heels:

    @passby — Maybe you can give me some tips on how to forcibly rewire my way of thinking so that the negative connotations are not the first things that pop into my head when I think of these brands?

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