Millennials Turn Branding Upside Down

BreakingModern — Brand-name items just aren’t what they used to be — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. When it comes to both high-end luxury commodities and everyday goods, the methods of branding have changed … albeit in very different ways.


In the world of luxury, brand names were once the ultimate indicator of status. Chanel’s double C’s, Louboutin red-soled shoes, Louis Vuitton’s signature pattern — the idea was to let other people know that the piece in question was “designer” and therefore, naturally, superior.

However, millennials aren’t buying into this sort of status-driven branding. The “de-branding” trend, or the movement toward buying luxury items without any sort of brand signifier, has been growing in popularity amongst today’s youth. The idea is to purchase high-end clothing and accessories that will stand the test of time, both in terms of style and durability. The clothes are generally plain, leaving room for customization through accessories.

The message? It’s the actual quality of the material and craftsmanship, not the brand name that makes the garment luxurious.

The de-branding trend piggybacks on the sustainable fashion movement, a trend that encourages buyers to shun “fast fashion” — cheaply made on-trend clothing that goes in the trash after a few uses (think Forever 21 or H&M). The idea is that de-branded luxury items won’t go out of style with the fashion seasons, and therefore won’t contribute to the 10.5 million tones of clothing that go into landfills each year.

Personalized Branding

When it comes to more mainstream products like drinks and candy, popular brands like Coca-Cola, Nutella, and Snickers have benefitted from personalized branding. Instead of relentlessly pushing their brand name forward, already well-known companies are nixing their normal labels from their products and instead including personalized messages, names, or pictures to connect with their audience.

For instance, Coca-Cola’s hugely successful “Share a Coke” campaign, which plastered people’s names on Coke bottles, boosted its sales by 2.5 percent. Snickers, whose popular slogan is “You’re not you when you’re hungry,” lets you choose a Snickers bar for whatever negative symptom of hunger you (or a friend) happen to be experiencing, such as “sleepy,” “snippy” or “loopy.” Nutella lets you print your name on a jar in-store (if you happen to be in British department store Selfridges) and Purina lets you put your dog’s face on a bag of dog food.

Why? Because millennials like to feel like individuals instead of like one of the crowd. According to the Vice President of Bud Light (you can now get your can of Bud customized with the logo of your favorite sports team, btw), “Consumers — and more specifically millennials — love a customized, personalized experience, and leveraging packaging is the best way to tap into that.”

Is There a Common Denominator?

The younger generation likes to feel a special connection to the products they buy. De-branded clothes allow a person to be, literally and figuratively, free of labels. A Coke bottle featuring your name makes you feel it was made for you, not for the millions of other Coke drinkers out there.

In a few words: Who doesn’t like to feel special?

For BMod, I’m .

All Screenshots: BMod Staff

Alison Maney

Author: Alison Maney

Based in NYC, Alison Maney covers lifestyle, trends and movies for BreakingModern. Follow her @sheepandcake on Twitter.

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