On Branded Products

I use a lot of things; these days we all use a lot of things. And sometimes things break, sometimes people ask what those things are, sometimes we think it would be useful to have another of that thing, and sometimes we do reviews of things on the internet. Whatever the case, sometimes it is good or necessary to know who made the thing you’re using, and what exactly the thing you’re using is called.

The majority of things we buy these days that don’t come from a no-name factory in China have some form of branding on them. Sometimes it’s just the company name, sometimes it’s a whole slew of things from company name to how often you should clean the product. Sometimes it’s right on the front, and sometimes it’s hidden away in a corner where you have to take the entire thing apart to find it. But what is the optimal place for this branding?

As a consumer, mostly I can tell you I would disagree with most companies on this point. For instance, I usually don’t want to buy notebooks with company names or purposes stamped on the front (Rhodia : Composition). I think the proper place for a logo or company name is in an easily accessible, but not usually seen, area. In notebooks this would be similar to the Leuchtturm or Moleskine who emboss their names on the bottom back of the book. Nothing is used to draw attention there, but I can easily find it. At the same time, if it was buried under the back pocket of the book and that was the only place to find it, I’d think they were hiding something.

I guess that partly stems from me not wanting to be an advertising platform. I don’t wear logo t-shirts, There’s no brand name on my shoes or pants that is easy to see, etc. Everything I can is as stripped as I can make if of logos and company names. Occasionally, when I really like a product, I will proudly display it and gladly tell people who made it. But this is on my terms, and I almost resent companies trying to force their advertising into my products. I don’t want people to judge me for what type of device I’m using unless they like it and come up to ask me. I’ve never once forgotten what the name of the product I was using at the time was, and I’m perfectly capable of giving it to an interested party.

But if I do forget, it’s nice to have it there; it shouldn’t be buried away under all of the tools in a multi-tool or on a tiny tag underneath its setup. That just makes it hard to get to when I need it, say to order parts, or recommend it to a friend over text or what have you. I don’t need to be advertised with, that’s tacky, but I don’t need names hidden from me, that makes me look cheap.

I think most manufacturers tend one way or the other and it’s hard for people like me to strike a balance. I usually just cover it if I feel it’s advertising though. My iPhone is in a case, my notebook is in my bag etc. And in general I do feel that technology is better at keeping it simple and mostly out of sight, at least down to more pleasant-looking logos.

But I do like branding. Whether I’m using my Mac, or a Crescent wrench, or a Bic pen, it’s nice to know something about what I’m using, and in some cases like the company. It might have been made in china, or the US, or Mexico, or the EU, but it wasn’t some company that wasn’t willing to tell me their name. Sometimes, though, I wish the companies that do would tell me a little more quietly.

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