Saturday, May 22, 2010

What I think about Brands

In 4th year high school I had an Economics class with one of my favorite professors ever. I remember this professor very well, and I believe so does the rest of the high school community. She has a petite physique and if you don't know her she might immediately project a meek personality. But for Scholasticans, she is known to be very assertive, knowledgeable, strict, but immensely fun.

Maybe I remember her well because I really like Economics. Next to History, Economics is probably my next favorite subject ever. I like the fact that the subject is practical. It's a subject that could be really used outside school unlike Algebra or Geometry or Chemistry. Ugh. I hate those. In Economics, I find it very cerebral and very useful. I remember making an essay about TIME articles about open trade and purchasing power as part of my periodical exams. It's so relevant and I find it amazing that theoretical and classic economic teachings never change no matter how we get transformed or modernized.

We had a particular discussion one afternoon. She asked me why a Parker pen costs so much than a Panda pen. And I answered obviously: "Because of the brand." She asked me if I expected that a Parker Pen costs thousands of pesos compared to a Panda Pen that only costs less than 10 pesos. I said: "Yes." At that time I was thinking of the trick behind the question. She asked me again. "Why do you think it costs that much?" And I specifically answered: "Because it's Parker." She asked if Parker deserved to jack up the prices like that. For someone not particular with brands, I said: "No. It does the same thing as Panda. Why pay for Parker when I could write using other cheaper brands?" At that time more than half in that class owns a Parker pen. I could have felt the daggers behind me. She smiled and we then began our lesson about brands.

I stand corrected. If you're wondering if Parker pen really deserves to jack up the prices so high, the answer is YES. I know the question didn't suit me at all. People who know me that well know that I'm really not particular with brands. When I buy or like something, there's a great reason behind it and the name is hardly important. It probably comes with my interests and less emphasis on my social standing. But nevertheless, brands are important in this world, in economics and come to think of it, whether I like it or not, to me.

The brand, according to my economics professor, is not just a name. The brand is a stamp and a seal of approval for consumers about the lineage and the process of how the product was produced. An LV bag is not expensive just because it's LV. It is expensive because an LV bag has always used authentic and specially acquired leather skin, well-thought of designs, has a golden band on durability and has great after sales support. We both know we could never get that when buying just another branded bag which sells for less than 200 pesos. In buying a car, which is a current dilemma, I have great hopes and enthusiasm of getting a Hyundai Tucson model because of the form, the great reviews and the smashing interior. But my father, who has a great say in this project of mine, is uncomfortable of getting a Hyundai because he doesn't trust the brand enough because he believes that it produces lemon-cars and the after sales support aren't that strong. The brand greatly influences what we buy more than because of the name, but because the brand carries the known integrity, history and the quality of the product.

That goes for computers, the food you eat, the shampoo you buy, the clothes you wear. You pay for the particular price because you trust the brand to deliver the things you paid for. You don't buy the brand because of the name. Some people I know get stuck with the name part without knowing the real reason why they buy things. To elevate status, they buy branded stuff and diss other lower priced brands. I find that quite annoying and foolish. Individuals are different and have varying preferences. A particular brand might not work for another individual irregardless of the price. The most expensive brand may not be the best for you. I buy Panda ballpens because it works for me. I love the weight, the width and the quality of the ink as time goes by. I've never bought a Parker Pen all my life despite the fad in High school because I saw no point to it. I lose small things easily and I've never been fixated with pens anyways. As long as it writes well and it moves well through my fingers, it's good enough for me.

Brands are more than just a name and a specific brand does not work best for everyone. A brand may be an important rule in the field of trade and economics, but it doesn't mean the brand should blind and rule you. There's nothing wrong getting a MAC or an LV, we both know the features and the quality of their products. Go ahead. Even a brand-simpleton like me urge everyone to acquire and make that branded choice as long as you know why.

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