Monday, 9 January 2012

Iconography

Since the days of cave dwellers, icons have been an important part of communicating with each other. In these days of computers, smartphones and touchscreens icons are a big part of the processing command chain. Icons like pictures are capable of representing many words. They allow the receiver to interpret amounts of information very quickly. Much quicker than a wordy equivalent. But then I’m telling you what, as a computer user, you already know. Icons enable you to evaluate and take action fast.

Just before Christmas we had a few days away in Chichester. When we have the odd night or two away we tend to stop at Premier Inns. In terms of chain hotels we find them very acceptable. They're clean, efficient and offer value for money. This trip in particular certainly offered all those things as we managed to book their £29 per night deal. Didn't think that was possible. Premier make a big play of brands. They use well known brand leaders or top brands. It occurred to me that this is probably quite a hard trick to pull off. In a four star (or plus) hotel this sort of in yer face branding would be seen as tacky and tasteless. But for Premier it is a great selling point. In the bathroom the shower gel is Imperial Leather and the hand wash is Carex. At the breakfast table it’s Costa, Heinz, Kellogg’s etc. Brands with a track record convey a perceived quality. They are icons. Icons that say these products are of a known quality.

When it comes to shopping I rarely buy branded products favouring shops-own brand. But then I suppose shops are a brand, as are hotels. Marketing people really do run things.

Another icon of the modern age is the designer label. Whilst a brand normally suggests a certain quality, depending on reputation, the designer label conveys much more as it speaks volume about the consumer of that label. It says I’m a complete twat with more money than sense. I have a deep distrust of anyone who buys a designer labelled product purely because it has a designer label. The same applies to certain brands as well. Many people seem to buy certain brands just because they are fashionable, the thing to have. They have the mentality of sheep. On the rare occasion that I got out shopping for clothing I try my hardest to avoid buying anything with a visible brand on it. I don’t always succeed but I do manage to keep it to a minimum. Some of my coats are the exception to the rule.

Last February we had a fantastic holiday in Iceland. The island not the supermarket chain that is. So this time last year I went looking for a decent, warm, water resistant coat. I almost bought one made by The North Face. I was prepared to look a twat for the sake of comfort. But what finally dissuaded me from making what was a very expensive purchase was the zip (zed-eye-pee). Yes the zip. You pay above the odds for a man’s coat and they can’t even be bothered to get the zip right. It would appear that all coats made by/for The North Face zip up on the girls side! Now I’m quite at ease with my sexuality and being in touch with my feminine side that I wouldn’t worry about that sort of thing per se. That’s not really the issue. If they are so fucking arrogant that they can’t be arsed to accommodate the British (possibly European???) market then why the hell should I be bothered to lash out on something that is going to cost me that deep in the purse? Besides I’ve spend fifty odd years buttoning and zipping up coats etc. the ‘man’s way’ why should I change for some lazy, arrogant, capitalists? I ended up buying a Berghaus ski jacket instead. Admittedly it is branded. But the icons of Berghaus branding are relatively subtle and I’ve never been disappointed with their products in the past. It proved to be a very good buy, especially as it was cheaper than what I was proposing to buy from The North Face.

The only other fashionable brand that I have spent money on in the last couple of years is Apple. I bought an iPod Classic. And the only reason I bought that was because there just wasn’t anything else that will hold that much music. I have a very large record collection. I have no intention of buying anything else with the Apple brand if I can help it. Especially as Samsung stuff, in my opinion, seems far superior.

Don’t be fooled by the brand name myths and the brand name hype. Owning certain brand named products doesn’t make you a better person. It doesn’t make you attractive to others, unless they are equally as shallow of course. Don’t sell your soul to devil of consumerist bling. Be more sensible shoe and less plimsoll. The golden idol is a false idol. If you worship iconography then there is probably no hope for you.

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