Are Consumers Drowning in a Sea of Brands?

Emily Griebel
April 14, 2011 — 1,991 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

Recently, I took note of the brand name on every single product I used in one day. The result was staggering, which (as a marketing professional) made me wonder if consumers are drowning in a sea of brands. And if so, how can keep the products we promote relevant and top-of-mind with our target audience?

Why did I spend valuable time writing down the brand name of every single product I use or am exposed to in one day? Well, I've read several articles about brands having to cut through the clutter of advertising - about how many advertising messages a person sees in one day. And this got me thinking: Not only do we have to compete for attention in the advertising realm, but also in the daily interaction with brands by our target audiences. Are consumers drowning in this sea of brands?

To prove this theory, I decided to do little experiment and count the number of brands I interact with in a single day, a Wednesday to be specific. The results were staggering. I was at 96+ different brands by 8:15am. You can see the full list of 152 down below, which was generated between 5:15am and 10:30pm. I'm sure I forgot to list some brands I used or encountered during the day, but you'll get the idea.

It's ridiculous how many "things" I use on a daily basis. It's even more ridiculous that I buy so many things. And to top it off, I had to look closely at almost every item to determine what the brand name was. I didn't even know the brand name of the baby wipes I've been using every day for the past ten months.

So my job as a branding professional is to shape the perception and position of my client's brand in the heart and mind of the target audience. I'm also supposed to convince this consumer to visit the brand website (or Facebook page) to learn more, drive to the store to look for the brand, find the brand in the store, take it off the shelf, put it in the basket, purchase it, use it again and again until it's gone, then remember the brand name during the next store visit. Oh yeah! Also, we want the target to tell their friends and family about the brand and post their positive feedback on Twitter.

We are asking A LOT of people, aren't we? It's no wonder that it's so difficult for a brand to be successful. We are competing with (in my case) 152 other brands for attention. We are also competing with all of the other things that people have to worry about - work, family, exercise, diet, friendships, life at home, social outings, leisure excursions, errands, spiritual practice, national and worldwide events, etc., etc.

All of this clutter, confusion and chaos leads me to one of the most important tenets in branding - consistency. Every brand's marketing effort needs to be consistent to break through. Every aspect of your marketing must be consistent - product design (form and function), sales, advertising, social, PR, customer service, in-store experience, collateral, website, packaging, etc.

To make an indelible impression in your customer's mind amongst the flurry of activity around them, your brand must be reliable, steady, dependable, constant, unwavering, unfailing, and lasting - all words synonymous with consistent.

This doesn't mean your brand message has to be the same year over year. But it does mean that your core positioning must be consistent. Pick a differentiating position that you can live up to and sustain, and stick with it. You'll be happy you did and so will your biggest fans - your loyal customers.


1.    94 Rock (radio station)

2.    Albertson's cheddar cheese

3.    Albertson's provolone cheese

4.    Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

5.    Albuquerque Isotopes

6.    Alcon eye contacts case

7.    American Home Furnishings bedroom furniture

8.    Apple iPhone

9.    Arnette sunglasses (from Sunglass Hut)

10.    Aveeno moisturizer

11.    Baby's Only soy baby formula

12.    Barely There underwear

13.    Bass bag

14.    Big Scary Cranium

15.    blouse (from Stein Mart, can't read label)

16.    Butterfield Jeweler's wedding rings

17.    Calvin Klein eye glasses

18.    Canon copier/printer

19.    carpet, flooring

20.    Cattle Drive canned chicken chili

21.    Cervantes red chile sauce

22.    Charisma pillows

23.    Ciba Vision eye contacts

24.    colleagues

25.    Conair curling iron

26.    Contigo water bottle

27.    Corner Office pen

28.    Costco flat bread

29.    Cover Girl mascara

30.    co-workers

31.    Crest toothpaste

32.    Croft & Barrow t-shirt

33.    Cuymama Orchards apple

34.    Dell computer

35.    Diaper Champ pail

36.    Diet Dr. Pepper

37.    Dole banana

38.    Earth's Best baby food

39.    EAS

40.    Eddie Bauer high chair

41.    Elizabeth Arden face powder

42.    Evite

43.    Excel

44.    Facebook iPhone app

45.    Facebook website

46.    FEIT Electric CFL bulb

47.    Gap camisole

48.    Gap jeans

49.    GE alarm clock

50.    Genie garage door opener

51.    Gerber baby spoon

52.    Google Gmail

53.    Google Reader

54.    Graco car seat

55.    Hammermill paper

56.    Hi-liter

57.    HP

58.    Hunter Douglas window coverings

59.    industry experts

60.    iPhone calendar

61.    iPhone email

62.    Jenni pajama bottoms

63.    JitterJam

64.    Joystick Interactive

65.    Jumping Bean baby shorts

66.    Kirkland concealer

67.    Kirkland dog beds

68.    Kirkland foundation

69.    Kirkland tissue

70.    Kirkland? baby wipes

71.    Kitchen Aid knife

72.    KUNM 89.9

73.    Lancome eye shadow

74.    Lancome makeup bag

75.    Lego

76.    Limited Edition strawberries

77.    LinkedIn

78.    Mariposa Community

79.    McKee Wallwork Cleveland

80.    Mead notebook

81.    Microarts

82.    Microsite OS

83.    Microsite Outlook

84.    multiple enewsletters

85.    multitude of out-of-home advertising

86.    Munchkin changing pad + cover

87.    Munchkin crib sheets

88.    MWC ACRE Matrix

89.    MWC Charrette planning

90.    myriad of baby toys

91.    myriad of dog toys

92.    Nissan Pathfinder

93.    NPR

94.    NY Times Crossword iPhone app

95.    OP baby shirt

96.    Orbit gum

97.    other soda brands

98.    Outback

99.    Overstock earrings

100.   Peerless shower head

101.   Personal Care petroleum jelly

102.   Philips Sonicare toothbrush

103.   Pilot pen

104.   Playtex baby bottle

105.   Post-It tablet

106.   PowerPoint

107.   Pre de Prevence hand lotion

108.   Pre de Prevence hand lotion

109.   Presbyterian Healthcare System

110.   Prive hair shine spray

111.   public radio journalists

112.   Reactix

113.   Revlon hair dryer

114.   RubberMaid cutting board

115.   Samsonite crib

116.   Scunci & Conair hair brushes

117.   Sealy mattress (from Sears)

118.   Search Discovery

119.   Seventh Generation diapers

120.   Shutterfly personalized mug

121.   SinuCleanse neti pot & saline solution

122.   social media friends, followers, followings, etc.

123.   Sonoma shoes

124.   SR Squared purse

125.   St. Louis Children's Hospital

126.   Staples note pad

127.   Steve Jobs

128.   strangers

129.   Taos Farms eggs

130.   Target baby lotion

131.   Target cup

132.   Target cup

133.   Target lamp

134.   Target lampshade

135.   Target saline solution

136.   TJ Trout radio DJ

137.   too many cars to count

138.   Triscuits

139.   TweekDeck

140.   Twinings tea

141.   Twitter 

142.   Twitter iPhone app

143.   United Airlines

144.   Vaseline lip stuff

145.   vendors

146.   Victoria's Secret lip gloss

147.   Village Inn

148.   Wal-zyr

149.   Wet n Wild eye liner

150.   Whirlpool appliances

151.   WK day care

152.   Word

Emily Griebel

McKee Wallwork Cleveland

Emily is the strategist responsible for overseeing the creation of integrated marketing systems for our clients at McKee Wallwork Cleveland. While at DDB Worldwide, where she worked for six years, she honed her interactive marketing skills by developing and executing integrated campaigns and CRM programs for American Airlines (, Pepsi Cola, and BLIMPIE. Before that, she worked on web-based programs for Campbell’s Soup Company brands at imc2.