The bonkers branding of beautiful bookmarks
— 4th January 2010
In which I rail against the idea that every company no matter what service they provide and no matter what my relationship with them should have a brand and that I should have to know about it.
I have a bookmark which contains my daughters most recent school photo. It’s a bit of a doozy so I'm extremely pleased to have it looking out of me from the top of my book every morning. Beneath the photo but still visible is name/logo of the company who took it. The company hired (or allowed in) by the school which took my child out of her lesson for 5 minutes and then offered me the chance to pay them in many and varied ways for the chance to then own this photograph in any format I chose or printed onto a range of objects.
My question is: why did the company (portentously named Tempest) put their logo on this bookmark?
They are already in a very strong position. As I’ve mentioned the picture in question is pretty near perfect (as I'm sure they all were to the parents concerned) and so they are as close to being guaranteed a sale as you could probably come.
What kind of return are they expecting from this logo? Who are they expecting to see it? Me? I have literally no power to influence which company my daughter's school chooses to provide this service. It’s not like I'm able to ask the school to use a particular firm of school photographers for my daughter however impressed I am by them. So why do they care that I know who they are.
If someone else sees the bookmark during my use of it and notices it’s extreme quality (my daughter's beauty aside) is anyone other than the head teachers of a small group of local schools (i.e. those who hire such firms) going to be able do anything about it?
Maybe Tempest is actually not just a school photographers. Maybe they do more. Maybe they're an upcoming service provider with a reach which will soon dwarf even Tesco in their pervasiveness and reach into our everyday lives. Maybe putting this logo on the bookmark is only their first step in a global marketing push which will see me gladly hand over to Tempest the right to provide me with everything in my life from life assurance to toilet paper. I kind of doubt it.
Basically they stuck it there because they could and because in the world of branding exposure is everything. It doesn't matter where and it doesn't really matter how. You throw enough shit at the wall and eventually some of it will stick. You throw your logo at enough eyeballs and somehow positive results will ensue. No publicity is bad so why leave your logo off something when you could stick it on there.
Let me be clear. I have no problem with the school choosing this firm for me and I have no problem with the idea of school photography or even the prices they charge or the crazy range of photo-products you can buy nowadays. My problem is simply with this incessant branding. It shows absolutely no understanding of the product they're creating or the "market" they are working in. It will almost certainly serve no purpose to them commercially and it’s been done only because it’s the kind of knee-jerk default behaviour of branding. It’s just what a brand "should do" nowadays.
The fact is that seeing their logo every day has completely the opposite effect on me. It’s their decision to put it there and therefore they are the kind of brand I dislike. Their desperate and ill thought out need to splurge their brand indentity onto what should be an unalloyed delight of a product has turned me against them.
The irony is that my dislike will have no commercial effect on them whatsoever. ;-D