Thus, home is a significant constant in our personal universe. Yet, isn't this emphasis on home a contradiction of the lifestyle we lead in this era of globalization and worldwide networking? In a way it is. For a certain amount of time, we live in a specific location and are temporarily local; then we move on to participate in a greater whole, become global so to speak. And yet, despite doing so we do not end up feeling permanently homeless. Hence, the concept of home does not appear to be inextricably linked to our place of origin. After all, who wants to spend their entire life in the place they grew up in? I certainly don't.
Even if you're not exactly sure where home is right now, you tend to have a notion of where past and present-day needs might converge. Could it be that the concept of home is in reality a Utopia, a place that one dreams of yet never really finds? By letting go of the idea that home is connected to a specific location we start realizing that our sense of home is made up of a diversity of elements. A smell or a sound, a taste, a specific quality of light or a sensation. Sometimes just a faint trace of something that "smells just like it did back home" is enough to calm our restless inner self. Each individual needs a number of points of reference in order to feel settled in this world and these are neither geographic nor universal. The only thing they have in common is that we all have some of them.
This in turn explains how brands, too, can become points of reference. Particularly in these times of global economic turmoil and fast-paced technological trends, they can convey a feeling of security through their very familiarity and the constant values they represent. A consistent brand presence that creates a world of experience and evokes an identical sensation every time you come in contact with it transmits a sense of belonging. Its recognition factor releases a feeling of well-being and acts as a reference point. Thus, criss-crossing the globe in our uprooted existence makes us receptive for such brands as Starbucks who, with their "3rd place" concept offer their customers an experience that goes well beyond the product itself. The brand provides its customers with a venue not just to drink coffee, but also to linger, relax, chat or even work. In doing so, Starbucks offers a slice of home-away-from-home. Like it or not, with its consistent world of experience, the brand triggers a sense of recognition, a feeling of home, wherever we happen to be in the world. In branding as in everyday life, recognition promotes identification.
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Born in Zurich, RenÃ© Allemann founded the consulting firm Branders in 2005. With 20 employees, the branding agency creates, maintains and manages brands. The Brander journal is published by the Branders Group.
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