The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

Yes Logo, No Klein!
James Gregory, CEO, CoreBrand
James Gregory

When Naomi Klein wrote ten years ago her book No Logo, I refused to waste my time making a comment because it was so void of value for the reader that it would die a natural death. I believed the minor sensation it created was mostly on college campuses and in the offices of a few business executives.

Ten years later, however, Naomi Klein seems poised for a victory lap. For the life of me, I do not see the appeal of her philosophy as she looks at the world through smog covered glasses. She has a distinctly old Soviet dreary point of view since she lives in a world where everything is painted gray. Still, she makes a living dishing out her glum perceptions to willing recipients. This time I say, "Enough!"

I've worked with dozens of Fortune 500 companies, but I've never seen one that plots hatred like Klein portrays in her books. Do companies make mistakes? Absolutely. Are there greedy executives? Without a doubt. There always have been and always will be villains in business and politics. It is human nature. Does the system need to be destroyed to create the grim, undifferentiated, life in the Klein gulag? No.

Klein's writings are in many ways offensive and without any constructive value. She talks about her research for No Logo, which included, "reading soul-destroying books on how to get in touch with your personal brand values…." Soul-destroying is a pretty damning accusation without a word of definition. I've written four books on brand building, and I wonder how many souls I destroyed vs. how many souls I helped. She makes ridiculous accusations that an "…increasingly voracious marketing culture was encroaching on previously protected non-corporate spaces - schools, museums, parks…." I guess the bad corporations just forced themselves upon these parks, breaking into them and plastering their billboards on every tree. Get real.

Klein discusses outsourcing and calls companies that do it "'hollow corporations' because their goal seemed to be to transcend the corporeal world of things so they could be an utterly unencumbered brand." She talks about being unencumbered like it was evil. Her utter lack of understanding of how business creates value is the only thing that rings hollow. She continues to criticize the outsourcing of services by government to private industry and calls it the "hollowing out…essential functions of government," but there is no discussion of the benefits of privatizing these functions to companies like Lockheed Martin. For example, if mail delivery declines as the use of email grows, the government can eliminate the postal system as being outsourced; if Lockheed Martin does a poor job, it can be fired; the bidding process itself creates efficiencies and helps to keep costs in line.

Calling "Barack Obama the first US president who is also a superbrand" speaks volumes of Klein's true agenda. But here, too, she is off the mark. I agree that Obama ran a brilliant communications campaign to get elected; he was the "No Logo" candidate because he endeavored not to stand for anything but "change." The brilliance of providing everyone with a blank slate allows the voter to project onto the candidate what they wish him to be. The reason Obama's popularity is flagging faster than any recent president, however, is because his brand was not truly formed before it was launched. Once the new president began to govern, his true brand emerged, and it didn't take long for both sides to become unhappy with his positions. No Logo is Bad Logo.

Subjects: Brands

28 January 2010 14:14

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