A take on brand name products

There is a lot of branding out there. Companies and people strive to show us who they are on a daily basis. I find it very interesting that there are more and more ‘brands’ on people’s vehicles, on facebook and in their personal attire. People want us to know who they are, they fervently display their stick figure kids and pets and support of brand names and logos.

Unless you are in the design business, it is extremely difficult to know what the go-to or cool name brand is in furniture fabric and flooring. It’s easy to see that driving a Lexus is cooler than driving a Kia and that carrying a Prada bag will get you more reaction than a no name purse but what about name branding in home design? Many manufacturers have tried but I haven’t seen lasting success in name branding. Years ago Liz Claiborne added her name to an exclusive line of carpets which only lasted a few seasons. One client said to me “If I’m paying for a designer carpet, the logo should be on the top not the backing.”

The key to successful branding I believe is the notoriety of the brand. People recognize colours and shapes of logos long before they even read the fine print. How many of us can spot a Mercedes from dozens of feet away just by the universally recognized logo? This is not as easily recognized in home design and even though designers like Nate Berkus and Brian Gluckstein have successfully marketed home interior products, you still may not recognize the items when they are present in some ones home.

What is a homeowner to do? Without recognizable designer brands, how do you make your interior distinctive and the coolest it can be? Most people cannot tell the difference between a $5 hardwood and a $10 hardwood and frankly, many people do not care. If the colour and style is appropriate then the manufacturer (or brand) does not seem to matter. This can be difficult for those of us selling higher end products, it is hard to show people the value in products which seem to have no branding if branding that doesn’t matter.

The trick to finding the right brand in interior home design is to research warranties and make decisions on which product fits your lifestyle. Is Canadian manufacturing important to you? How about fair trade and decent wages for overseas workers? It may not be about branding or recognizable logos but to have a product in your home that makes you proud is very important. How and where a product is manufactured is as important as the brand it is labeled with, just as it is important to know where your food is grown and flown from.

You won’t be bragging to your friends ‘come and see my new Mirage hardwood floor’ anytime soon. You are more likely to invite friends to come and see your beautiful charcoal grey floors – but maybe you can have a hardwood with a Canadian story or a carpet that was grown by an adorable New Zealand sheep farmer. That sort of branding tells a better and more compelling story and weaves into the complete fabric of your home far better than any logo or name brand.

Kim Meckler is an interior designer in Red Deer with Carpet Colour Centre.