No Branding, No Noise

Consumers in the United Kingdom are now experiencing a new kind of shopping experience provided and hosted by Selfridges, a high-end department chain founded in the early twentieth century. By collaborating with international brands and Headspace (modern meditation gurus), Selfridges now allows customers to shop without worrying about brands or the, sort of, noise pollution that is generally expected when shopping. Their website features a video with this message: “As we become increasingly bombarded with information and stimulation, the world is becoming a noisier place. In an initiative that goes beyond retail, we invite you to celebrate the power of quiet, see the beauty in function and find calm among the crowds.” Selfridges is looking to promote quality over packaging and design. 

The new set-up will include aisles of unbranded goods (that will still look awfully familiar), a quiet room, and Headspace relaxation pods. Goods, such as condiments and beauty products, as well as Selfridges bags, will be on display unbranded and without labels throughout the store to create a more ‘quiet’ experience for the shopper. The Silence Room, a space in the store with little anything really, serves as “a room where busy shoppers could retire from the whirl of bargains and the build-up of energy.” The Headspace relaxation pods calm customers with different guided meditations to help calm busy minds in the store including meditations with key focuses on commuting, love, shopping, and technology.  

I’m not the only one who is weary about the new changes Selfridges is bringing to customers; it seems somewhat to-good-to-be-true and questionable if consumers are already brand-efficient and aware. According to Brand Genetics Blog, “a good brand doesn’t just create noise or shout louder than the competition…a good brand is actually an integral part of a product’s quality and function.” In addition, the blog reminds us of the principles of behavioral economics – if a consumer is given the same product at two different places, the place that seemed “better” will also have a more pleasurable experience using the product. This relates to Selfridges because most importantly, context is all; if you surround a consumer with familiar-looking brands, the one they feel most connection with, they will buy regardless of no visual branding.

A company meaning to do more good, may be doing more bad. 

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6 thoughts on “No Branding, No Noise

  1. I find this article extremely interesting. This past summer I worked in London where all of the shops were extremely loud and crowded. I think it would have been really nice to have a food shop that was completely silent. However, people can be very attached to product logos and labels. Many consumers get very upset when brand logos change because they are part of their daily routine. It shall be interesting to see how successful this campaign turns out.

  2. I believe that removing brands form the products is a waste of time for the store. The reason i believe this is the store already has an establish brand as a high end retailer and a portion of the people who go there will like to know that they are buying high end products.

  3. This concept is very interesting, to go so bold as to rid products of their brands seems somewhat risky to me. I am interested to see how individuals/consumers will react and if and how this will change the way customers will make purchases. I’m not sure that it will work just because of the time we are currently in and people’s obsession with brands but I think this will prove itself to be bold in the future when the time is right. To conduct such a thing now will be really eye opening to see.

  4. Interesting… logos play big roles with people shopping.. just like when I go to stores, I would be used to see some logos but when they change, I notice them less. Such as some logo redesigns, I would have the old logo stuck in my mind and that would change my perspectives on the new designs. I look forward in the future on how companies face redesigns and make them more bold and get more attention.

  5. I agree, I can’t see how removing brands would be a positive, since brands are useful for quick decision-making and are often associated with a history of positive, negative, and neutral interactions. If you take the brands away, on what basis are they competing on? How would consumers know what product from which specific brand has a consistent track record? Despite this “de-branding” effort, I feel that this is really counter-productive and may end up being more time-consuming and a bigger headache for consumers than it is a benefit, since consumers will likely still be brand loyal to a brand as they shop there more and more, and the similar packaging will only serve to make their search even more frustrating. Awesome post and great analysis! It was really though-provoking 🙂

  6. Sounds like a gimmick to me, although an intriguing one. This is the new fad – simple and quirky. “Silence room”= oxygen bar. People want to become as different as possible, and being a brand-slave is just not ‘in’ these days. Some of my friends put gaffers tape over the brand names of their cameras to avoid becoming a slave to the brand. They say they enjoy the camera, not the name of the camera. Anyhow, how are the prices being affected by this? Are they higher, lower, the same?

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