Branding is an important part of creating and perpetuating any successful product or service. Using product placement and celebrities to endorse products or services is not a new part of the branding concept. However, a recent battle between luxury handbag designers to disaffiliate their brands with a certain reality television star has developed the term “unbranding.”
Designers such as Coach and Gucci have allegedly been sending MTV’s The Jersey Shore star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi bags from their competitors’ collections in attempts of deterring her from carrying bags from their own brand.
When the reality star emerged in the spotlight, she was rarely seen without a Coach bag on her arm. Recently, her Coach bags have been replaced by Coach’s competitor Gucci’s bags. The switch is said not to be the result of a change in taste on Snooki’s part, but a strategy by Coach to stop their brand from being associated with the self-proclaimed “guidette.”
Whether or not Coach is behind Snooki’s switch to Gucci bags may not be something they will admit, but it has certainly stirred up some talk about a new twist on branding.
All successful brands have their own strategies for building and maintaining their image, but how ethical is the strategy of “unbranding?”