Welcome to BrandSpace!
As part of a new Lear Center project called BrandSpace, I'll be writing a series of blog entries about the research projects being carried out by members of the BrandSpace working group. The project's goal is to examine the way in which new practices, imaginations and politics are being created within the parameters of commercial brand culture.
In a recent issue of The New York Times Magazine - "The Screens Issue," as they called it - three cutting edge admen brainstormed about better selling Katie Couric, Clorox bleach and overalls. Amidst the chatter about targeting audiences through Twitter and Facebook and Flickr, Lars Bastholm mentioned that his company is shying away from the "ad agency" label and instead marketing itself as an entertainment and technology company. After all, what's the difference between branded entertainment and advertising? And for that matter, between content and a commercial?
Good question; hard to answer. Fortunately, we have people like Sarah Banet-Weiser, a professor of communication at USC and the director of a new project at the Lear Center called BrandSpace. The Lear Center's interest in BrandSpace is multiple - it is our conviction that attracting and holding attention (the art of entertainment) has become a constitutive force in all fields of modern life. Whether you have a dance company, a new lip balm or an idea about dark matter you need to find a way to attract attention to it. Advertising and marketing are built upon this supposition and their work is, basically, about attracting attention to ideas and products.
But "brands" are a particularly interesting method of marketing something. Andrea Hollingshead and Jay Wang, both BrandSpace group members and former corporate marketers, reminded us that brands are basically unique spaces in the marketplace - the work of a marketer is to cultivate an identity for a brand, articulate its difference from other brands, and create borders around the concept.