Brand status refers to the social standing that is associated with a particular brand. Customers may use brands as a way to communicate or signal their own social status to others. This can be seen in the way that people choose to purchase and display certain brands as a way to signal their wealth, taste, or other markers of social status. For example, someone who is seen wearing designer clothing or carrying a luxury handbag may be trying to communicate that they have high social status. On the other hand, someone who deliberately avoids certain brands or chooses alternative, less well-known brands may be trying to signal their independence or uniqueness. Brands can be a powerful means of communication and can play a significant role in how people present themselves to the world. The following are common types of brand status.
If a brand is known to be expensive, it can be used by customers to signal their wealth or income. This may involve obvious logos and other visual symbols of the brand that make it clear an item was expensive. Wealth can be counter signaled with brands that the wealthy view as high quality that lack obvious visual identifiers.
Association between a brand and a celebrity or a brand that is famous in its own right. For example, a customer may feel a sense of pride that they wear the same watch as a celebrity that they admire.
A brand that is currently popular amongst a social group. For example, a particular brand that is popular amongst high school kids in a particular country for a season that communicates that an individual is trendy and in the know. This type of brand status tends to be temporary as by definition trends change with time.
A brand that is viewed with admiration without necessarily being trendy. For example, a relatively unpopular brand of operating system that is often selected by hardcore computer enthusiasts such as software developers and information security experts.
State of the Art
A brand that is at the forefront of innovation such that its products are viewed as state of the art. For example, a brand of camera that is always one step ahead of the competition in terms of performance, functionality and quality improvement. This communicates social status for the customer such as the perception that the customer is tech savvy or a professional photographer.
Youthfulness is a potent form of social status. Brands that communicate youthfulness may be marketed to customers of different demographics. For example, a outlandish fashion brand that is rarely worn by women over 24 that communicates the youthful status of customers. Alternatively, a youthful brand may be targeted at older customers such as a sports car that signals youthful potency that is marketed to a middle aged demographic.
A brand that communicates appreciation of culture. For example, a sake that is purchased by people who know about sake. Such brands may have strong appeal to customers that pride themselves as being culturally refined.
A super culture is a culture that exists at the global level such as the culture surrounding jazz music or soccer. It is common for brands to communicate membership in a super culture such as a brand that is associated with a sport or all sports.
Subcultures are relatively small cultures that represent an alternative or compliment to mainstream culture. It is common for subcultures to embrace a niche brand or hard to find brand as a symbol of membership in the culture. For example, cosplayers that embrace a brand of Japanese candy as an element of their subculture.
Brands that are doing good things for the environment and communities may communicate altruism. For example, a brand of electric motor for sailboats that customers see as a symbol of environmentally responsible behavior.
Intelligence, Confidence & Individuality
A brand that is viewed as an intelligent, confident or individualistic choice. For example, a mountain climber who buys an obscure brand of gear that they find to be higher quality than better known brands in the sport. This may signal intelligence, confidence and individuality. Alternatively, this may counter signal that the climber is too hardcore to worry about trivial matters such as brands.