The Brand Ambassador and The Logo

I see a lot of women carrying branded handbags and wearing designer clothes, striding confidently, wearing the logo (or logos) like a badge of honor. Some can afford the luxury items; some can’t. The quality of the products is generally good, sometimes superb. Nevertheless, how much something is worth is always in the eye of the beholder, in this case, the customer.

What compels someone to pay an often astronomical sum for a item is fascinating to me. The subject resides at the intersection of psychology and capitalism. An addiction to paying too much has hurt millions of people who end up with no savings, and no options, after a lifetime of hard work. It has also made fashion designers and retailers millions of dollars, provided by hefty profit margins on their goods.

One technique used by retailers is, obviously, the logo. A logo communicates different things to different people. To the customer who might buy the product, a logo might be a reassurance to the customer that the product is of a certain quality. More often, it is a way for the customer to communicate to others who they are, what they can afford, and which cultural ‘tribe’ they belong to.

The second technique is the brand ambassador. This is, usually, the owner of the company who appears sometimes in advertising and often in publicity efforts, touting his company’s brand by being an icon, or idealized customer, for the brand. Ralph Lauren is an obvious brand ambassador for his Polo brand. Richard Branson is the rock n roller who has made Virgin companies, from records to airlines, cool in the eyes of his customers. Examples abound.

The brand ambassador does one essential thing: he lives the life that his customers want to live. That ‘life’ (or a well-crafted image of it) is presented to the buying public with the not-so-subtle message that, if you want to live like this, you need to buy our product. 

That desire to live a different life fuels illogical and often destructive purchases by consumers worldwide. Yes, a logo or a certain brand does sometimes ensure a certain level of quality. But we must take care not to go too far down this slippery slope: clothing and accessories we use everyday are there to perform their function, first and foremost, then be fashionable. Not the other way around. The products we purchase should also be in a quality/price matrix that makes sense, that’s within our budget.

Being overly influenced by a logo, or influenced by a brand ambassador at all, is a mistake. Let’s be aware. Let’s be independent in our purchasing decisions. Let’s let the goal of financial independence govern our financial decisions.

It’s the first step toward an Old Money life.

  • BGT







30 thoughts on “The Brand Ambassador and The Logo

    1. Thank you, Psychogrok. I’ve noted some of your posts on your blog. Could you elaborate about your feelings on education? It’s a big topic on this blog, and one of the Core Values of Old Money. Thanks for commenting. – BGT

      1. My thoughts on education are that courses that are sustainable in the long run should be chosen and studied. And one must constantly update ones skills to suit the societal demands in order to generate an income that accommodates all the demands of the highly dynamic society. Please do pardon my English, I’m not a native speaker.

  1. What I find interesting is that for certain “luxury” brands – Ralph Lauren immediately comes to mind – the basic product lines often have ostentatious logos, while the upper end lines look more tasteful and refined. You can get a shirt from Uncle Ralph without the cheesy horse – but you have to spend over $200.

    1. True statement. Thanks. I find myself wearing the polos and sweaters with the small logos…and those are usually hidden underneath another garment. Dodging the obvious logo bullet as best I can. – BGT

  2. Great post. One challenge with brands is that many of the items of clothing you used to be able to buy from small businesses are only now continued in the idealized version that big brands sell. I bought my tuxedo hand made from a local made to measure men’s store called The English and Scots store. If anyone looked at the label they wouldn’t have known what to make of it. It was a classic design and affordable because it was just a small business and I loved it because it gave me great memories of my discussions with the older gentleman who sold it to me. But these little stores are going out of business and the skills of the owners are going out of practice. Buying well made clothes becomes ever more expensive if you want them hand made and otherwise you have to buy them from ready made stores with less quality.

    The thing about brands, I think, is that they provide an identity for a world where people are struggling to identify themselves with something larger than themselves. It’s the same with going to the right university. Universities are so caught up in the branding game and providing instant identity. If only you could tell young people that the thing which will impress people of good will most about you is the way you conduct yourself, the books you have read, whether you can talk comfortably with older people and children, whether you have good manners. All of these are the sorts of attributes you can acquire if you spend less time at the mall and more time talking to your grandparents.

    If only people wearing and carrying around these YSL polo shirts and Kate Spade purses knew that they are just flashing neon signs for some people saying, don’t expect an interesting conversation here.

    Now if only there were a way for people to brand themselves and identify themselves as someone who has read Pride and Prejudice or Brave New World, or who has thoughts on the decline of the Roman Empire. I wish I could easily identify those people.

    1. Thank you, GpButler. Yes, that is the challenge. I guess we’ll just have to keep an eye out for the patrons of museums, libraries, bookstores, and quiet cafes, watching for the discreetly well-dressed who exhibit good manners. Patience… – BGT

  3. The best clothing comes with no logo, it just requires finding a very good tailor or dressmaker and working with them to create a look all your own. It doesn’t have to be expensive but does require one to have patience.

  4. In 2016, acting on a recommendation from this blog, I picked up a basic Ghurka wallet in London, where the exchange rate provided a slight bargain. It’s probably the only time I’ve purchased something under the influence of the web literati. It spends most of its time in my trouser pocket where the logo can’t be seen. So Byron, consider yourself an unwitting brand ambassador for Ghurka. It’s a bloody nice wallet.

    1. I’m an influencer…oh dear. Ha. I’m glad you’re enjoying your Ghurka wallet. It will last quite awhile, and, in the rare moments it might be seen by others, it will make an impression: others will note that you’ve purchased quality…if only for your own satisfaction. Thanks for the comment, Richard. – BGT

  5. One thing you omitted, Byron (probably because you are too polite to state it) is how ugly these logos are. The chief offender is Louis Vuitton, whose ghastly logos are used to decorate their tacky handbags etc. When walking past the Louis Vuitton shop in Paris I was interested to note that all the customers inside were tourists, mostly Chinese, and not Parisians. I went inside a number of times to confirm my theory and I was right. I wonder why.

    When my daughter was a teenager and wanted branded clothes I told her that if a brand wanted her to advertise for them, they should pay her, not the other way round. I am please to report that she saw the light and hasn’t bought or worn any branded items for about ten years.

    1. Thanks, Rob. And welcome. Interesting. I’ve heard Paul McCartney isn’t really held in high esteem, either. Why is that? Would love to learn more about it. – BGT

      1. Look into Branson’s tax controversies for starters. “In 2013, Branson described himself as a ‘tax exile’, having saved millions in tax by surrendering his British citizenship.” Oh, but he’ll happily drape himself in the Union Flag when he needs to promote himself. He’s one of the usual suspects when it comes to being put on a pedestal and worshiped as a ‘wealth creator’ and supposedly doing so much for the people of Britain. The truth is, his tax exile status pretty much says he couldn’t give two hoots about the British public, just as long as they’re subscribing to his services and lining his pockets. Come the revolution, his head will be on a stick.

        With McCartney, he’s just gone on too long as a performer. He’s been past it for years now. Sometimes you just have to say ‘enough is enough’.

  6. “The quality of the products is generally good, sometimes superb.”
    Indeed, but the quality still doesn’t justify the price, even if the product is made in France. One pays for the brand, marketing, costs of running stores on strategic locations, etc. Not to speak of generous profit margins.

    “Some can afford the luxury items; some can’t.”
    Exactly. The one who owns the bag is not always the one who paid for it.

  7. Thank you for another well written and insightful post Mr. Tully!
    I’ve noticed very similar tendencies concerning the highly visible logos here in Germany.
    For me, dressing has become so much easier since I’ve read the Old Money Book – Thanks for that too! I’ve never felt or looked better with so little effort. Personally, I’ve come to remove all uneccesary visible tags, logos and labels directly after purchasing a piece of clothing. The ponies are too hard to get rid of though and at least in winter can be hidden under a pullover or blazer.
    It’s funny, I found a discreet little pin that reads, “Tell me what you’re reading” in a book store in the UK a couple of weeks ago and I wear that on the lapel of my waxed jacket instead of the silly logo pin.

    1. Thank you, Sabine. What a great way to communicate your values. “Tell me what you’re reading…” I think that will attract the right kind of people, and make the more shallow sort hesitate. Good for you. – BGT

  8. This “Keeping Up With The Joneses” nonsense of brand competition is just exhausting to watch. I see so many women carrying expensive purses with the enormous brand logos. Apparently, it’s an acceptable “culture” thing where it’s OK to dress like a complete disaster, but so long as you’re carrying a horrendously expensive bag with a big logo, it’s ok. With all of the second-hand designer websites now where people can trade and sell, it’s become a sickness. I have many vintage bags of great quality I still use today, purchased in the 80’s while in high school, college, and during my first job. Not branded, just high quality. I can’t see wasting money like that.

  9. ….. yes. And why bother? Just let them eat their cake. Does anyone feel uncomfortable seeing others throwing borrowed money around? People do not do that. Look at Colonna family from Rome. OM for 800 years. You will not notice them. Look at the bright side, please.

  10. I often wonder where I fall on this topic. I love Abercrombie shirts, but usually only buy them off the highly discounted rack. Their T-shirts fit me like no other.

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