Being that Women in Biz Network is having its first Vancouver event November 1st, and it is all about being Brand Savvy, I was going to write MY first post about social media and brand building. 

I talk a lot about brand building on my own site.  Social media IS brand building.   Whether it is YOU or your business, the online personality you create is your brand.  So making sure you present you or your company the right way is crucial to building a social media presence and or online marketing.

I did say I WAS going to write about all this. 


I received a copy of Martin Lindstrom’s new book BRANDWASHED.   Now as a mom of three, my reading has slowed down considerably, so I am not that far into the book.  However, this is a fascinating read. 

In his introduction to the book Martin shares his experiences in trying to live brand free.  This is what sort of irked me.  In fact, my mom read the intro too while child minding and it irked her too.  

It irked me to the point of firing of a quick email to Mr. Lindstrom about all the opportunities of living brand free that he seemed to miss.

“I have a quick question to you before I wade into it.  You took a brand detox, but for you it meant buying nothing? Did you not just look for non brand stuff?  Craft stores, craft fairs, crunchy granola mom and pop stores with their own line of shirts, hair cream, GIFTS FOR YOUR FRIENDS? Is not that they way people are trying to go with 100 mile diets and so forth? Did you find it really hard to find non brand items?”

He was quick to reply (he seems like a really cool guy).

“Thank you for your thoughtful response.

 I’ll answer your last questions first.  It was incredibly difficult to find non-brand items.

Let’s do our own little experiment.  I would like you to look around your house tomorrow and tell me how many ‘non-brands’ you have in your home.  Bare in mind that if, while doing your back to school shopping, you went with the CVS/Walgreens/Drug Fair store brand items because they are less expensive, they are still brands nevertheless.  I think that you will be shocked to learn just how many branded items you have in your home.

I look forward to hearing back!”

I like a challenge.  I lay awake that night trying to think of the ‘non brand’ items in my house. First, he seemed to take on this challenge without truly defining what a brand is.  For the challenge I would assume the BIG brands.  The corporations that spend millions making sure their names are synonymous with your own personal lifestyle.  Name brands that we can’t escape in our media and pop culture saturated worlds.   This does include the ‘cheaper’ items you find at Walmart etc…they are all brands to be sure, cheap or not. They tend to be still owned by the larger corporations like Con Agra and Proctor and Gamble, for example.

What isn’t a brand then? 

A non brand to me is brain twistingly STILL a brand BUT – NOT a brand with the dollars to study neuromarketing.  Non brands to me are the small local designers who create market and sell their own product.  Redfish Kids clothing is an example that leaped to my mind.   As is Peekaboo Beans and Lunapads.  Indeed these are all brands.  But they are brands without the reach that names like GAP, Kotex, or H & M have.  I would add to that any of the local companies you would see at a craft fair or artisan market.  The handmade soaps, for example, or the organic cottons, and the ‘natural’ cleaning products are, in my opinion ‘non brands,’ Instead of your Dove, Tide or Fruit of the Looms brands that spring to mind and are seen in every grocery or super store as well as all over the television and magazines.

That is how I would define brands when trying to not buy them.

Non brands have been quicker to use social marketing. Social media is the next step in word of mouth marketing.    When you compare social media marketing to mainstream marketing, talk IS cheap.  

Non brands have relied on word of mouth referrals and social media has been an excellent way to share their products through referrals and reviews.  People love sharing the information about their favorite products.  Hence the great efforts the real brands are making at winning over the online ‘influencers.’

Is it difficult to find non brands?  Yes it is.  It is usually more expensive too.   But I have found that moms especially are keen on weaning themselves of the big brands as much as possible. 

The whole ‘shop local’ movement is a great example of that.   Farmers markets have exploded in popularity.  People want to support the local suppliers.   We want to not only eat healthier, but live healthier and the non brands are part of that need.  We want to know what is in our products.  We want to know where they are made and who made them and under what conditions. 

Shoppers are becoming very savvy and educated.   This education does tend to war with the jingles and name brands that we have grown up with.

So I have a few questions for you.  Am I right?  Is my definition of a ‘non brand’ correct?   If so, how hard would it be for you to avoid brands for a year like Mr. Lindstrom tried to do?   He found it nigh impossible.  

This post is my reply to his challenge.   I will freely admit that my house is filled with brand name products.   But I do try.  I try more and more to shop local and small and organic and healthy.    Could I live brand free? 

I honestly don’t know.  I could, perhaps, but I think my kids would curl up and die without their McDonalds and brand name candy bars.

What about you?