Since the beginning of this year in particular, I’ve been reading a bunch of articles about the death of brand loyalty, Forbes and The New Yorker’s recent articles in particular.

To summarize (probably overly so): people now have access to information. Gone is the ability to take out a hundred thousand dollar ad campaign in Time magazine with your logo and have millions of Americans swooning over owning that item.

Gone also are the days where it was cool to walk around with a Coach wallet covered in logos.

What, you don't want this $20 wallet covered in a brand's logo?

What, you don’t want this $20 wallet covered in a brand’s logo?

So not only do we care less about having a cool brand name literally on us (as a collective anyway) but we can also comparative shop, bid, and otherwise get what we’re paying for until our heart is content.

So is branding dead? Not really, it’s just reappeared in another form. Like a zombie.

We now care more about who we buy from than we ever did. 

To demonstrate this idea, let’s look at mattresses.

 1950s- Englander mattress’ brand name is on this ad twice… and associating itself with Goodyear, another brand.mattress-ad-1950s

2014- You can buy a locally made mattress delivered to you on a bike. Mattress Lot delivers mattresses on bike to people in the Portland Oregon area.

Ok might not be fair to compare a large brand to a local mattress store but this is our economy folks. People who own local mattress stores can do well too.

englandermattressvsmattresslotingoogletrends

A business started in 2010 to be getting half the amount of Google searches as a brand in existence for over 100 years? Not bad!

As you see in both these cases, we have a ‘brand’. In case one, it’s the manufacturer and in case 2, it’s the store selling certain kinds of products.

Consumers understand that many of our products are being manufactured in China, Bangladesh, and other countries… so we have to make that ‘human’ connection with the person selling the product now, not necessarily the manufacturer.

I bet you can think of a few ‘brands’ you and your friends still love. Maybe Converse sneakers or Subarus. But I bet your loyalty is stronger with the businesses where you buy those things now than it ever was before.

As a small business owner, I’m excited to live in a time where I don’t need to promote that I carry x and y brands but can instead run the best business I can selling the best products and services I can find. And here’s hoping you are too.