Is Unbranded is the New Branded?

Originally published in 2018, I explore the idea of unbranded consumer goods becoming the new prevalent choice of consumers in an ever-changing market.

Is Unbranded is the New Branded?
Is Unbranded the New Branded?

Originally published on LinkedIn on April 10, 2018.

As a brand’s journey into infamy progresses; the ability to buy into a brand’s ethos and the value’s it once stood for becomes ludicrously exaggerated or confusing, to the point where we have managed to make ‘unbranded’ look cool in the eyes of our most key of stakeholders; our customers – removing all of the hard work, sweat and tears put into each marketing campaign used to promote the product.

When you buy a piece from a high-street fashion retailer, do you buy it because of the value for money or because it was shown to you in a glamorous and compelling way? Now take back a step, try and remember what was happening 5 years ago in the world of retail and fashion; a collaboration between two brands would have been unheard of, or even frowned upon, now it’s the new ‘it’ thing to stay relevant - well that’s what brand’s think.

In truth, consumers are compelled to buy-into the old way of doing things, from buying vintage to setting their own trends and styles. With the age of ‘everything digital’, everyone is an influencer, and it has become harder and harder for people to create a unique identity for themselves; however, in this new world, a new trend emerged, where a pair of unbranded sunglasses not only adds character, style but also saves money for the consumer.

Retailers, designers, salesmen and even marketers are all having to scramble to stay relevant and appeal to consumers in the new age-wave, where buying ‘value’ items not only adds character, but also gives the consumer a feel of self-development and style as aforementioned; something brands can no longer accomplish.

However, it’s not all bad – in this new age, branded items are becoming stylistic accessories rather than full-fledged centrepieces. A pair of sneakers, which 5 years ago, would have been overshadowed by an outfit composed of different items from different brands, can now be used accentuate the entire outfit and add not only stylistic flair but a level of ‘coolness’, curators and stylists only dream of, and it doesn’t even have to break the bank.

We have come to the point, especially in the world of fashion retail where unbranded is the new branded, and wearing all-designer pieces is now seen as being ‘dull’.

Brands should now strive to add value, and use their history as innovation and creative houses to drive appeal not to entire outfits to make everyone look as generic as possible, but focus on fine details and make sure each piece can be mixed-in with something else, not only to accentuate the brands’ own items but those of others too.