Brand Power

Reading Time: 2 minutes


I was sat on the Eurostar on the way to a meeting in Brussels, my knees compressed by the back of the next seat ahead of me and couldn’t help but overhear a conversation of the people in front of me. There were discussing an unnamed third person and talked about how the person had bought a second-hand Porsche 911 sports car and the affect that it had had on them.

Most interesting was the change in language of the person. For instance when they were at the golf club, they were asked whether they would have enough room for a set of clubs in their car to which they replied “Yes I have enough room in the Porsche for the golf clubs”. They systematically substituted the word car for Porsche in their conversations.

Whilst they guys in front of me thought that this person was a bit of a prat, ‘being with him is like stepping back to 1986, you know like Loadsamoney’: I can’t really comment on that, I was struck by the power of the brand.

The linguistic changes showed a deep brand relationship. If someone asked me for the time, I wouldn’t say “The time by my Rolex is X o’clock.”

Yet a watch or mobile phone is a much more personal product than a car. I sleep with a watch on and my mobile phone goes everywhere with me, but its still my mobile phone despite by strong preference for Nokia handsets.

There are only three products and services that I have a relationship that is that linguistically close to the Porsche relationship described:

  • My Mac – and this is usually because the expressions PC or laptop have been considered by many people as being a Windows machine, thus presenting issues regarding compatibility with anything else that maybe needed
  • iPod – it is (probably unfairly so) the evoked set for portable entertainment appliances, in the same way that Walkman was in the 1980s
  • Google – because using the site has become such a ‘learned habit‘ that Google is the evoked set for algorithimic search