On Branding

I had the honor to stay at the Disneyland Hotel last week for a Project Management Conference. The first thing I noticed after walking into my hotel room was all the Mickey Mouse branded items. Since I was there for a professional conference I wasn't expecting to see the full cast of Disney characters in my room, which it got me thinking about the true cost of branding.

Classical supporters of advertising will quick to point out that branding creates an asset at risk for corporations. For example, if Disney doesn't produce quality ice-cream bars it will damage its reputation with consumers. Put it another way, the Disney brand is a promise from Disney Inc. to consumers of Disney products. This promise is costly to maintain and Disney deserves to be rewarded. Does that mean all branded advertisements are good? Opposition will point out that some advertisements add little in terms of value to consumers, in fact, some advertisements are misleading and manipulative.

The question is, how much value are consumers getting out of the Disney brand? Does it make me feel better (safer?) if the ice-cream bar is packaged with Mickey's face instead of wrapped in a brown paper bag from an unknown vendor? Are Disney ice-cream bars actually better? Perhaps there isn't an easy answer. Economists will argue that the price of a good is whatever consumers are willing to pay for it, but that says little in terms of optimal market efficiency. Unfortunately, before I had time to resolve this philosophical dilemma I was distracted by my Mickey Mouse ice-cream bar... :p

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