Assignment 2

Cultural Branding

The notion of advertisement and branding have changed significantly in recent history. For a long time, advertising was seen as selling the product, and the product alone. Companies were not focused on the overall perception of the company but more so on the perception of the individual products that they were manufacturing. This suddenly changed around the second half of the nineteenth century when new technologies came about that gave companies more opportunities but also with a new task to change the expectations of the consumer (Klein, 1999).

The notion of branding only really started taking off even later. Before companies were not concerned so much with ‘branding’ themselves. This changed however, when big companies like Nike and Tommy Hilfiger started focusing on their logo and brand instead on their individual products. They instead aimed to sell a lifestyle and idea instead of a physical product, something that had not really happened before (Klein, 1999). It must also be realized that branding and advertisements are very different in terms of what they represent. As Klein advocates, “Advertising any given product is only one part of branding’s grand plan”, concluding that branding is the overall image of a company, the “core” of what they want their company to convey. The advertising method is only one part of this identity, as is the “sponsorship and logo licensing” (Klein, 1999). This shift in perception was thus a significant one, the “role of advertising [changing] from delivering product news bulletins to building an image around a particular brand-name version of a product” (Klein, 1999).

Though only a few companies made this change in the beginning, it had significant effects on the marketing and advertising industry as more and more companies started adopting this specific approach, changing the consumers’ expectations from marketing one by one. As mentioned before, the importance of the individual product dwindled and the “‘brand essence’ gradually took the agencies away from individual products and their attributes and toward a psychological/anthropological examination of what brands mean to the culture and to people’s lives” (Klein, 1999). People did not want to buy just the product anymore, they wanted to buy what the product symbolized in society.

An example of a brand which really emphasized their brand instead of their individual products is Red Bull.  Reb Bull sells one main product; energy drinks. Their company is incredibly successful, mainly to the fact that they are not really only selling energy drinks but rather a certain lifestyle. Red Bull has mastered the art of event hosting and representing a ‘fun’, ‘energetic’ and ‘exhilarating’ lifestyle. Even though they are selling an energy drink, their website and branding mainly revolves arounds exciting and ‘adventurous’ sports. The implication is clear: Red Bull will make you be able to do all these sports, a notion strengthened by their slogan, “Red Bull gives you wings”. Their slogan implies that when you drink Red Bull you will be able to achieve the impossible and reach your dreams. This branding thus goes much further than simply selling the product, it is instead selling success.

Red Bull’s marketing is another factor that has greatly influenced their brand. Successful branding companies often do not produce physical things but rather “images of their brands” (Klein, 1999). The hard work for these brands was not manufacturing the products but manufacturing the marketing campaign, something Red Bull truly succeeded in. By giving the product out for free, having interactive marketing campaigns and by even hosting big events, Red Bull made a name for itself. The product itself, though also liked by people, is not the reason for Red Bull’s success, it is all due to the creating and “renewed imagery for marketing, and most all, a fresh new space” for the brand to broadcast itself (Klein, 1999). Red Bull took advantage of the gap in the market in terms of energy drinks and used the product to create a whole new world around it. Red Bull’s ‘space’ is symbolically the dare devil’s world and physically huge events where people can try their product and truly “feel the experience” (Klein, 1999). These events are often also dance festivals, or places where exciting stuff is already happening, this also enhancing the experience and perception people maintain for Red Bull.



Klein, N. (1999). No Logo: no space, no choice, no jobs: taking aim at the brand bullies. New York: Picador. (Chapter 1 and 2) (SB HF 5415.152/ SB HF 5415.152

Red Bull (c)


Leave a Reply