Hi, I'm A PC. And I'm A Mac. Or The Psychology Of Brands Discussion

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Fire_Ice_Death, May 11, 2010.

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  1. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    Author note: I wrote this in kind of a late-night dealy and have just gotten around to finishing it so I apologize if it seems disjointed and rambling.

    I've been thinking a lot about brands these days and how entrenched they've become in our lives and how inherently healthy or unhealthy that's become. I chose the PC vs. Mac brands as the start for this discussion. This is a discussion and not a debate. There are no 'sides' here to take. Just people sharing our views. Anyway, in our society brands are ubiquitous and they're everywhere. They're why we pay so much for one product versus another. We all have a certain loyalty to these products because that's what we're used to.

    In my opinion I don't think loyalty to a product is necessarily healthy for a society because it creates an inflexibility in our mental states and makes one thing dominant over the other even if the other product is of higher quality and better. Take the PC vs. Mac warfare. I'm sure some of you know people who are very pro-PC or pro-Mac and if you asked them why they might give you some reasons like, "PC's are just better and more adjustable," or, "Macs are just very closed and so stupid," they don't really know why they dislike the thing they dislike--they just know they don't like it.

    I myself have fallen into this trap, too, with this very title by not including Linux. To be fair, I don't really consider Linux to be a successor to any platform at the moment as it's too scattered and the fanbase is having a war of its own right now. So no point in considering it at the moment. That's not to say the product is useless, just right now it's not where it might be in a few years.

    But yes, I think we fall into these traps through our environment and the people involved in our lives and what we're exposed to. And after years of dealing with one brand over another we become attached to the point of hating the fact if we have to change. That's the power of branding, though, and the intent. They want you to become dependent upon their product so you'll keep buying. I consider this view kind of manipulative and short-sighted as it doesn't take into account whether something gives more value for what we pay or if the competitor might offer a better experience.

    I know that business doesn't work like this, but sometimes your competitor offers a better experience and better products and you either acknowledge this and change the way you do business or you fail. I dunno, extremes have always bothered me and I like taking the middle ground if possible. So this post may seem rambly because of that.

    What do you think? Do you think making a brand a part of our psyche is a good thing or a good thing for a society? Is it detrimental? Feel free to share your thoughts no matter how absurd or idealistic. All views are welcome.
  2. darthdrago Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2003
    star 4
    I personally have been mystified by some of the branding that takes place in our society. Brand loyalty is one thing, but blind brand loyalty is something else.

    Example: those bootleg window stickers of Calvin urinating on [insert detested brand/product]. I usually see the Calvin sticker where he's peeing on either the Chevy or Ford logo. It's a powerful symbol, but it says more that the owner intended: yes, they hate GM/Ford, but it also says that they'd never even consider buying the competitor's product no matter what it is, and very likely no matter how much better that rival product might be in reality.

    It's a kind of fanaticism that you usually see in sports fandom, but directed at material products. I guess it's the best possible example of how the corporate marketing strategy ultimately wins. I just find it baffling that people would willingly give up their freedom of purchasing choice (the very hallmark of the market-based system) for blind faith in a brand's products. Granted, if you believe said brand's giving you a worthwhile product, then I guess it doesn't really matter. But it does seem self-defeating to not even consider alternatives when you want to buy something, especially when buying something that puts you into debt, like an automobile.

  3. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    I think with the Ford and Chevy thing it has more to do with Nascar and how it has setup these manufacturers as factions or teams rather than a product or a tool to use. So I think that's where it comes from and I agree that blind brand loyalty is a bad thing, but people choose to do it. It's much like most things in our life where we're either raised with it or we grow into preferring that product. It's kind of insidious how companies subtly push people into that blind loyalty as well.
  4. Darth Geist Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 1999
    star 5
    Branding has a lot in common with identity politics.

    Back before I argued politics with strangers, I argued game console specs on the schoolyard, and it's pretty much the same mentality. Unquestioning loyalty to your side and the people on it, seething hatred for the "enemy," and not many good reasons for either.
  5. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    Being in photography, I get to see brand loyalty a lot. As a Nikon shooter, I must admit taking vicarious pride in what the best Nikon shooters do with gear I know about and occasionally own myself. Some folks have shot with Nikon gear all their lives and would never dream of using anything else. The same is true for many Canon shooters. Others believe in having the best gear above all else, and if that means repeated switching or using multiple brands, so be it. Those who place the highest emphasis on the bottom line and those who value their brand most of all are sometimes not the same people.
  6. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    That's the basic point you want to get across here, right?

    And your judgment is: not necessarily healthy. I'd like to counter it, but before I do, let me say I wouldn't support the formation of a society in which every aspect is unambiguously healthy - would you?
  7. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    Not at all. However I do believe mental clarity/sanity are always preferable. That if you stick to a brand so closely that you alienate other people as a result that that isn't healthy and it limits your growth as a person.

    Before you 'counter' my point I'll restate: this isn't a thread where there are 'sides'. Just opinions so there's nothing to counter. Just to voice your own opinion.
  8. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Well I can counter an opinion, right? Whatever, just the first thing that came to mind. I actually edited it, because I said "I don't disagree" before. But I do! So I had to edit it fast or shame my line of work.

    Alienating other people is not healthy, agreed. But is that because of brands?

    Still not countering - the counter I have in mind will probably involve a lot of text and I don't really have time right now.
  9. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    Sometimes it can be. I've known people who will disown you as a friend if you're a Apple supporter and they like PC's. But it boils down to: people are dumb.
  10. darthdrago Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2003
    star 4
    That's an interesting point about the NASCAR angle, I've never thought of it that way before. I don't really follow motor sports, but I do know that the big names in NASCAR tend to stick with one brand's engine versus another: usually a Ford or Chevy, or occasionally a Dodge engine for their cars. I'm sure that product endorsement is the real reason behind this. Of course, I've noticed that one or two of the big names have adopted Honda engines to compete--I wonder how the diehard NASCAR fans feel about the idea that their heroes might be racing in a foreign-brand engine. (Union-built in the USA, of course.[face_flag])

    With regard to the Apple/Microsoft debate, I have a question: are there any posters here who'll identify themselves as a diehard Apple/Windows fan? I think Jabba mentioned that he'd be in the first wave to buy an iPad, saying that he didn't really need it, but would be buying it anyway because he was an Apple fan. Anybody else?
  11. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Hi, I'm an Apple (not a Mac). And I really like the products. I've got a five-year-old ibook G4 and I intend to keep it for years to come. It's old, not a gaming machine, and Apple no longer supports the G4 for its new software. Why don't I just get a new computer? It's not like I didn't get my money's worth out of the device I'm currently using, nor that I wouldn't appreciate buying a more modern laptop.

    Well I really like my ibook and it fulfills pretty much all the functions I want from a computer. And I really don't want to throw my computer away if I don't have to. I really like what I have and intend to enjoy it for years to come... given as Apple products tend to become obsolete long before they break down. When that happens, I have every intent to buy a refurbished Apple computer (as the version I want no longer has the PC express card or a removable battery).

    That being said, I think that I am very loyal to Apple, although I don't buy just anything. I seriously considered getting the ipad, but was quite disappointed to learn it was just an oversized ipod touch. I actually dislike how that device is doing so well with the market... I really believe the Amazon Kindle deserves the status within the reading market as Apple's ipod does in the music market. And although I may like Apple as a company, I still am not fond that the ipad is growing in the market over the kindle.
  12. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    To be fair, Ipad and Kindle really aren't comparable devices. Sure, the Ipad has an Ebook program-but that's not it's major feature. The Kindle is nothing but an Ebook reader, and you have to pay for pretty much any content on it, which isn't necessarily the case with the Ipad.

    I dislike the Ipad just because of how non-portable it is. Basically, there's no practical difference I can discern between lugging around an Ipad and lugging around my 13-inch Macbook, which can do a hell of a lot more than the Ipad ever possibly could do because of it's Iphone OS. Give the Ipad a six or seven-inch screen (ie, cargo pocket size) and I'd probably alot less skeptical.

    I like my Macs (I currently own a Macbook, an Imac, an Ipod, and an Ipad Nano*) too. The Ipad just isn't something I really see being useful for me, though. But neither is the Kindle.

    *:
    [image=http://www.mapds.com.au/newsletters/0807/iphone_home.gif] :p
  13. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    My son has an iMac and the hard drive failed after 18 months. I took it to the "Mac geniuses" who proposed some kind of bizarre solution that would cost thousands of dollars and take several months while they sent the hard drive and the whole computer to some clean room in Arizona to have it analyzed by technicians in plastic hair nets, masks and those paper boots.

    So, then I took it to a local guy who recovered the hard drive content and replaced the drive with a 1 TB drive and upgraded the RAM for mere tens of dollars in labor.

    **** you Mac geniuses.

    I like the iMac, but it's just a computer. The iPods we've owned have almost all been buggy/glitchy, from the shuffle up through the iPod touch. We buy this stuff, and iPhoto and iMovie are all loads of fun for rank amateurs, but I also have four PCs in the house. I like my cheap-ass netbook and would never replace it with an iPad. I have an android phone.

    Brand loyalty can be a kind of low end luxury. We were talking about food stamp users in grocery stores loading up on brand named snack foods. It's a well-studied consumer phenomenon that low income people for example use brand name food purchases as a way of experiencing an affordable luxury. Oreos instead of store brand creme filled sandwich cookies. Charmin Ultra instead of generic TP, etc.

    So, a bit paradoxically people for whom the food budget is a significant chunk of their disposable income tend to spend even more than necessary on food because of the extra utility they apparently get out of buying name brands. Some are clever about it with the couponing I'm sure, but not everyone.
  14. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Listen, FIDo. Yesterday a friend of mine told me about a small reconstruction project he needed a contractor for. Two companies made an offer: one for ?25.000.- and one for ?28,000.- The latter had built up a working relationship of eight years with the client. Yet, the client chose for the first company, the one that cost ?3.000,- less. They blew the job, mostly because they were inexperienced.

    Now you tell me: where is the line between a good, trusting working relationship and brand loyalty? I submit that if you question the phenomenon of brand loyalty, you're questioning trade itself. And I think it would be a cold, crude world that's all business, without some loyalty.

    ... and I think the everlasting Mac/PC debate these days really just comes down to whether you can afford a Mac or not.
  15. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Well I believe that the kindle is of a better quality if you're just interested in ebook reading. Unless the ipad can do something about that screen brightness and battery, I think it's being directed to kill the kindle from Jobs' point of view.

    Absolutely what I thought as well. If I had to choose between an ipod touch, ipad, and ibook, the ipad takes the worst from both devices. You can't just slide it into your pocket like a touch. It doesn't have the full functions of a laptop. I just don't understand what the hype's about for that device.

    I like Apple as a company, but I'm starting to see their products diminish in quality as they advance in design. I accept that they are more expensive than PC's, but I've come to accept spending $1000 on a computer that lasts at least 5 years is worth it. I've had few difficulties with Apple, but they happen. I don't remember the last time my computer had to be restarted because of a glitch in the OS, which is one of the primary reasons I love OS X. But that's just me. If I had issues like other people have had, then I likely would come to a different opinion of the company.
  16. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    The Mac Mini, which most people aren't aware of because Apple doesn't advertise it a whole lot, basically nulls even that with it's 5 to 600 buck price tag.


    Yuthura: I just don't see the Kindle and the Ipad as really covering the same market area. The Kindle is an Ebook reader and that's pretty much it. The Ipad can surf the Net, listen to music, watch movies, etc. etc. etc.

    Not saying that all of that makes the Ipad necessarily better. But it's not the same product area-the Ipad is intended to sub for a laptop; the Kindle makes no such claims.
  17. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Eh, in my experience it tends to come down to that, whether or not you want a proper tablet, and gaming, because college students have weird priorities.

    As for me, I use Mac (I'm not a Mac, to get into one of my big complaints about Windows' counter-marketing strategy, but I digress) because 1. I like a Unix-based OS and the security it provides, not to mention it's precisely what I'm trained to program on and 2. I've never had a bad experience with Apple products - I certainly can't say the same for any other pre-built computers. Of course, I'm typing this on a Dell keyboard and using a Microsoft mouse, so make of that what you will.

    Regarding brand and identity, I've got no problem with it. It's an effective marketing technique and it's not like people kill people over the Mac/PC or whatever debate, so there's really nothing for me to complain about.
  18. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I think there's a large difference between brand identity and brand loyalty. And I think this plays into SuperWatto's point a lot, as well.

    I would think brand identity is when you make the brands you use part of who you are and how you characterise yourself. I would say that more Apple fans tend to do this (PC people seem to be more opposed to Apple than necessarily identifying themselves as Windows) where it's an element of who they are. I think I'd even expand this to include people who choose purchases because of the social elements of having that brand.... the Nike shoes, the Ipod mp3 player, etc.

    In contrast, brand loyalty is sticking with a company because of your own history and experience with them, not because of what having that product says about you as a person. It's a choice to stick with a company even though it may be pricier because you know what you're getting and feel confident in the product based on past experience.

    I think brand loyalty is tied more to so long as the company continues to meet or exceed expectations, whereas brand identity is how long it continues to be fashionable or cool, or emotionally satisfying.
  19. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    I read a very interesting book on Apple which related how the company nearly went down the tubes by relying too heavily on brand identification, actually.

    They don't appear to have learned much.
  20. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    Personally I've experienced something like the reverse of brand loyalty with Macs.

    I grew up going to school with Macs that were constantly crashing, and I've never been able to shake the antipathy generated by those years. Also, all the best games were either PC-only or took forever to come out on Macs.:p

    And yes, I'm fully aware that what I'm saying is basically the equivalent of, "I'm avoiding Casino Royale because I grew up with Roger Moore as James Bond and it made me really dislike the character," but those early impressions are hard to shake.
  21. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I will say, there are a couple companies that I have as nearly permanent fixtures in life, though at least two, I'm not sure where the competition would be. One is AAA, since my family has been members for decades (My membership card says I've been a AAA member for 53 years) although there's not really a competitor, and the other was growing up on Disney on tv, and Disneyland as the family vacation twice a year, and again, there's not exactly something else I'm neglecting because of it, so much as them getting my business in the first place.
    The one company that I probably am a bit blind to change on would be Bank of America, which I've had an account with since I was born, and my family has had accounts with going back a century, after Bank of America's (then Bank of Italy) role in the rebuilding of San Francisco got my family's loyalty then. I've had some issues with some things they've done, but nothing big enough that I've found a better bank to go through the work of changing to.
  22. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Yet people conclude that generic brands are 'inferior'. I think we do take advertising into account.
  23. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    [face_hypnotized] Disneyland twice a year?? Lowie you do know there's literally millions of kids who envy you, right?

    Disney's company mission: creating happiness for people all ages, everywhere.

    Disney has created a powerful brand identity. If it's Disney, it's quality. Nevermind that they've copied themselves a hundred times over, this is what the public thinks of their products. Nevermind that they hijack centuries-old fables and fairytales, distort them into something kid-friendly, add a comic duo and then flood the market with expensive derivative toys made cheaply. It's quality animation! And fun for the whole family.

    That family is emptying their pockets right now to pay for the next trip to Disneyland the kid is begging for. On food strike for. While Bobbejaanland is right around the corner, but nobody wants to go there.

    So okay FIDo, I guess I can see a bit of your point. Problem is, if I was Disney, I'd be happy with it.
  24. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    Of course, if you belong to any business you're going to be happy when people fork over money to buy your product. It means you've marketed your brand and people believe in it.

    Re: Apple, since everyone has been talking about them. I think what Apple did right was that they made their brand clean and simple and easy to understand even if you don't see their name you know their logo. They don't try to bombard you with images that you have no idea what they mean. When you think of Apple you tend to think of quality products with a sleek design. That's how their logo and marketing acts. That's also why you see such an abundance of white space. It's meant to give the impression of clean and sophisticated products. So I think they do that right. Where they go wrong (and chief among most complaints) is their proprietary hardware and software. You can't use OSX on another machine and you can't upgrade your computer. But that's also the beauty part of their marketing: It just works. You don't need to add or take away anything. Everything works as it should. Even if that is technically a lie on their part.
  25. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    Well, sometimes they are. If you buy Safeway Multi-purpose cleaner, for example, it has less of the active ingredient than Windex does. And why should they put in more, when the whole point of the product is that it's a cheaper, ersatz version of the real thing?
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