Advertising
Advertising

Personal Development Lessons from Branding?

Personal Development Lessons from Branding?

Personal Development Lessons from Branding?

    The Story of the $800 Jeans

    Jeans Isolated With clipping path

      I recently watched a presentation given by a journalist (Benjamin Wallace) who had taken an extensive look at the way people shop; what they buy, why they buy, how much they spend and why some people are prepared to part with obscene amounts of money for the supposed ‘top shelf’ versions of every day items (jeans, wine, olive oil, beds, coffee).

      His talk was essentially an exploration into the psychology of shopping. I laughed as he (the journalist) expressed his disappointment at test-driving a pair of $800 jeans which looked, felt and ‘performed’ the same as his $50 jeans. Not only was there no discernible difference (to him), but over an entire week of wearing his new expensive duds, not one person complimented him on how amazing he (or they) looked. “Then, what’s the point?”, he asked.

      I know the Feeling

      I identified with this story because I was given an expensive pair of jeans for a birthday a few years back. While I appreciated the gift and wore them gratefully, I had no idea that they were expensive until someone (some months later) saw the label and complimented me on owning a pair of that particular brand of jeans. I nearly fell over. Of all the things to be complimented on, the brand of my jeans wasn’t high on my list. I was amazed that they could be impressive to someone. To me, they were simply one of the five (or so) pairs that I owned. No better or worse than any of my other ($50) jeans.

      Advertising

      What Logic?

      I was extremely interested in Wallace’s study and subsequent report as I have a fascination in this area; the value we place on labels. Having worked with a broad socio-economic cross-section of people over the last two and a half decades has given me a great opportunity to observe ‘shopping behaviour’ and the rationale behind those purchases first hand.

      Like my client who would never buy a pair of shoes unless they cost at least a thousand dollars because “they couldn’t be any good otherwise”. Or the forty-something guy who bought himself a high-powered Ducati motorbike even though he was a complete novice with no riding experience or skills. When I (an experienced motorcyclist) advised him to buy a different (cheaper, safer, slower, more appropriate, learner-friendly) bike, he didn’t want to hear about it. He was only interested in the look and the label of the bike; he wanted to be a Ducati owner no matter what.

      300 Kilometres Later…

      When he got the bike it absolutely scared the crap out of him (because he couldn’t ride it); as I knew it would. I had to ride it home from the dealership for him. He rode it three times (in a year), put 300 kilometres (180 miles) on the clock and then sold it for $9,000 less than the purchase price. He was in love with the ‘theory’ of a Ducati but not the practical reality. He had bought an image, an idea, a brand. A delusion. And as so many of us do from time to time, he let his ego run the show, dictate his behaviours and waste his money. He wanted to be a Ducati owner and rider so much that his emotion (need to be cool, popular, desirable, respected, tough, macho) temporarily over-shadowed his intelligence, common sense, fear and his obvious lack of riding ability.

      Label Lunacy

      People who shop for particular labels and brands rather than individual products which will suit a purpose or meet a need, have always intrigued me. It’s no revelation to hear that some people are devoted to, if not completed addicted to, owning certain brands and labels – and not because of the actual product but because of the perceived prestige (acceptance, approval, recognition, popularity) that comes from owning, wearing, drinking, driving that particular label or brand. Don’t believe me? Hang out with some teenagers for a while and see what it means to own the right shoes, jeans, jacket, MP3 player, phone, etc.

      Advertising

      A Hypothetical:

      Red Sports Car

        Imagine if you and I took the latest, never-seen-before, $100,000 BMW coupe and we re-branded it as a Hyundai for its launch into the market place. Not only do we re-brand it as a Hyundai but we also reduce the price by forty percent, so now we have a $100,000 BMW selling for $60,000 in Hyundai clothing – so to speak. So the exact same car (motor, technology, interior, exterior, performance, quality) which would have sold strongly as an expensive BMW is now being offered to the same potential buyers at just over half the price – as a less prestigious and less desirable brand. Of course we can’t say for sure what would happen, but I’ll take an educated guess and let me know if you concur…

        1. Most ‘BMW shoppers’ won’t even consider the new ‘Hyundai’ product – even if it comes highly recommended. They will let their feelings get in the way of the facts; the fact that it’s actually a BMW in every way except for the badge on the front. Their bias against ‘less prestigious’ brands won’t allow them to even walk into a Hyundai showroom and their ego won’t allow them to save $40,000. They would rather pay $100,000 for the SAME product, so long as they can be seen driving a Beemer. The ego is a very powerful thing and haven’t the marketing folk made that fact work for them over the years?

        2. Most general new-car shoppers won’t consider the new $60,000 two-door Hyundai because they perceive it to be too expensive for that brand. No matter how good the actual product (car) is. As a result, the re-badged BMW doesn’t sell strongly and dies a sad and lonely death within two years of its launch. Never to be seen again. Consequently, a generation of car drivers will miss out on the automotive luxury bargain of the decade because of brand bias, stupidity and ego.

        Emotional Shoppers

        Of course, it’s no revelation for me to tell you that when it comes to how and where we spend our money, we are often emotional and irrational beings. And yes, the marketing and branding gurus have been benefiting from, and maximising this knowledge for years. It’s their goal to evoke an emotional response (feeling, reaction, decision) from you and I so that we will buy, no matter how much we don’t need, or can’t really afford, whatever it is they’re selling. To them, common sense is the enemy; that’s why they always tell us that we ‘deserve’ their product. Of course we don’t actually need a four hundred inch flat screen television, but as they quite rightly point out, you and I have worked incredibly hard lately and why shouldn’t we reward ourselves with a ridiculously large TV? Imagine how much better our lives will be when we get that bad boy up on the wall. Just look at the couple in the advertisement… they seem very happy.

        Advertising

        Back to the Presentation…

        During his presentation, Wallace spoke of a study that was conducted at Stanford University in early 2008, where a group of subjects sampled two different wines; a cheaper wine ($20 bottle) and a more expensive wine (over $100). They then reported their feedback to the researchers. For this study the participants knew the value of each of the wines and as you might expect, the vast majority scored the expensive wine highest, in terms of taste and pleasure, and the cheap wine at the other end of the scale. In order to make the study even more scientifically valid and objective, the researchers conducted MRIs on the participants to see if their perceived enjoyment (of each wine) correlated with what was happening physiologically in their brain. And guess what? It did. The wine which they perceived to taste the best and give them the most pleasure actually created a comparable pleasure response in their brain. And of course, the cheap wine showed the opposite; a lower level pleasure response. Now, all those results are interesting but what’s totally fascinating is that the two wines (the cheap and the expensive) were actually…. the same wine! There was no cheaper or more expensive version; they were both a relatively cheap wine.

        Doh!!

        That’s right, not only do we have the capacity to create our own pleasure and pain but we also have the ability (via our thoughts, beliefs and expectations) to actually create significant bio-chemical changes in our brain. In other words, we can think ourselves to pleasure. Or misery. Literally. Our beliefs create our reality – even when it comes to the pleasure a cheap wine can give us.

        My Budget Wardrobe

        A few weeks ago I did one of my regular TV gigs for the show I work on. For the segment, I wore some jeans, a pair of boots and a new short-sleeved shirt. A friend of mine who is a self-confessed clothes snob and fashion aficionado informed me that “I looked great.” Here’s a snapshot of the conversation we had:

        Friend (F): “Hey, saw you on TV this morning, you looked great. Gorgeous shirt, that colour really suits you. Is it new?” (I was still wearing the same clothes)
        CH: “Thanks. Yep, new shirt. Bought it all by myself!”
        F: “Well done, where did you get it?” (trying to get an idea of its cost and whether or not she should like it!)
        CH: “Some shop in the city.” (I actually bought it at Target)
        F: “Was it expensive?” (knew that was coming)
        CH: “Not too bad; it was reduced from $150.00 to $90.00.” (complete lie, it cost $25.00!)
        F: (now with a look of approval on her face) “Wow, that’s cheap for a nice shirt like that. Good shopping by you. It makes such a difference when you wear quality clothes. And the jeans, they’re nice…”(searching for some more info)
        CH: “Yeah, picked them up when I was in the States earlier this year. They were on special for a hundred and forty bucks.”
        F: “Wow, that’s good value for nice jeans like those.”
        CH: “Now, do you want the bad news?”
        F: “What?”
        CH: “The shirt cost me twenty five bucks at Target.”
        F: “Did not.”
        CH: “Yep, it did and my expensive jeans actually cost me forty five bucks at the same store and my boots were a freebie from the good folk at ‘Caterpillar’; I did a gig for them recently. So my entire outfit, including socks and jocks, cost me less than eighty bucks.”
        F: (look of disbelief on face)

        Advertising

        Needless to say, the revelation of the cost and origin of my ensemble changed the dynamics and the tone of the conversation instantly. When I pointed out the obvious fact that she had been sucked into the mindset of ‘dearer always equals better’, she didn’t want to hear about it. I was informed that I “just don’t get it”. All of a sudden my “gorgeous shirt” wasn’t nearly as appealing. And of course we all know you can’t buy “gorgeous” for twenty five bucks.

        So why do (some) people do it?

        Most of us have a preference for certain labels or brands because of positive experiences we’ve had with particular products over the years – that’s understandable (intelligent even) and not what I’m talking about today. No, I’m talking about people who have an unhealthy and irrational desire to own certain labels no matter what. I’m talking about people who won’t even consider another less-expensive label – even if that label is of comparable or identical quality to the more desirable label. I’m talking about people who love to be seen drinking the expensive wine, even when it tastes like crap. And I’m talking about the person who puts him or her self under huge financial pressure to buy the car that they really can’t afford and definitely don’t need.

        On some level, Label Shoppers believe that ownership of a particular product will meet some kind of need in them. And they’re right. For a day. Because that’s about how long it will be before they will need to shop again. Amazingly, those $800 jeans won’t lead to life-long nirvana or universal approval or acceptance. Who’da thought? By the way, the need they have is emotional, not practical. Nobody needs thousand dollar (plus) shoes, but people want to be associated with certain labels because somewhere along their journey they’ve learned that ownership of said labels will equate to attention, approval and acceptance; what they’re really after.

        The Why Behind the What

        So again, it comes back to the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. What they want is the label, but why they want it is the key to this puzzle. Consciously or not, many (many) people don’t believe that they’re good enough – that is, smart enough, pretty enough, desirable enough, lean enough or interesting enough. And as a consequence they will endeavour to make up for their perceived shortcomings with desirable accessories and assets; stuff to impress their peers. “They’ll like me more if I’m driving this car, wearing these clothes, living in that house or owning that gadget.”

        As for me, thankfully most of my friends love me unconditionally – even in my twenty five dollar Target shirt, my very cheap jeans and the boots I didn’t pay for.

        More by this author

        Craig Harper

        Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

        Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life? Do You Make These 10 Common Mistakes Before Weighing Yourself? If your Childhood Sucked – It’s Time to Stop Blaming Your Parents! Exploring Relationships with the Single Weirdo Education Should be More than Academic Basics

        Trending in Lifestyle

        1 How to Get the Best Deep Sleep (And Why It’s Important) 2 How to Practice Meditation for Anxiety and Stress Relief 3 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 4 12 Sad Things That You Should Learn to Be Grateful For Instead 5 7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on September 16, 2019

        How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

        How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

        You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

        We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

        The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

        Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

        1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

        Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

        For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

        Advertising

        • (1) Research
        • (2) Deciding the topic
        • (3) Creating the outline
        • (4) Drafting the content
        • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
        • (6) Revision
        • (7) etc.

        Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

        2. Change Your Environment

        Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

        One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

        3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

        Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

        Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

        My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

        Advertising

        Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

        4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

        If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

        Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

        I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

        5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

        I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

        Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

        Advertising

        As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

        6. Get a Buddy

        Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

        I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

        7. Tell Others About Your Goals

        This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

        For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

        8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

        What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

        Advertising

        9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

        If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

        Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

        10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

        Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

        Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

        11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

        At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

        Reality check:

        I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

        More About Procrastination

        Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

        Read Next