No Logo by Naomi Klein is the bible of the anti-globalization movement. And it’s a very good book.
- Corporations are only interested in profits
- Big brands focus on marketing to insecure teenagers
- There’s a growing anti-brand resentment brewing
No Logo Summary
No Logo says it doesn’t want to stand for a call to arms. It’s not about telling you what to do. It’s about empowering people to how brands and big corporation operates.
What you do with that, is up to you.
Brand in The Office
Naomi Klein explains how brands are created by marketing departments in the office and they have little to do with the actual production of the goods.
Marketing departments are busy thinking about how to position their brand in the mind of the users -images of things instead of things-.
And the actual production, that’s outsourced to places with cheap labor.
Brands would rather spend money on marketing than on actual production.
Klein provides several examples, but a recurring one is, as you might expect, Nike. Nike has long been embroiled in several scandals of children exploitation and yet still managed to come out of it unscathed (this is Nike’s answer to No Logo allegations).
Marketing & Self Doubt
Klein says in No Logo that brands love selling to young people. They take advantage of their fragile identities and self doubts. Marketing is about giving the illusion that by possessing some cool products, teenagers can rub off some of that “cool” on themselves.
And be a bit more popular and well liked.
And that’s why brands try to associate and incorporate anything that teenagers can think of cool. Movie stars, sports stars, grassroots movements and, as well, iconoclastic movement that pose a threat to the brand themselves.
The effort is worth it.
Teenagers are a fantastic profit machine. They shop in packs, so if you can sell to a few of the cool guys, then everyone will follow suit.
This is why, says Klein, brands have been trying -and often succeeding- in getting a foothold into schools.
Naomi Klein says there’s a growing resentment against brands.
Corporations greed has brought lots of pain to real people. They removed jobs from high paying countries bringing unemployment and povery; they gamed and rigged the system to pay employees as little as possible (McJobs); and they pollute and take advantage of any loophole they can while also taking advantage of the environment by polluting and contaminating the environment.
I’m afraid to say that this resentment is nowhere strong enough. Brands are still going strong. If not stronger.
Finally, Naomi Klein says she can start seeing an alternative movement blossoming. She shares several examples, including Adbusters magazine, culture-jamming movement, Reclaim the Streets and the McLibel trial.
But the book has aged and the landscape has surely changed.
Real Life Applications
Watch Out for Copyright Laws
No Logo was prescient in talking about how corporation (ab)use copyright laws to silence critics and maintain market dominance and the image of “cool”.
This has become more and more of an issue in the digital age (if you’re a Youtube you’re probably aware of it). It happened to The Power Moves as well with a book summary. I received a false copyright claim because my review was not very positive.
Watch out if you want to publish a non positive review.
Globalization Has No Positives?
A bit typical of the left wing, No Logo criticizes without recognizing the positives of modernity and globalization.
Yes, I also don’t necessarily like sprawling multinational brands and marketing, but modernity and globalization also has countless positives.
As a matter of fact, it probably has more advantages than disadvantages.
There’s no mention of that in No Logo.
No Logo criticizes, but refuses to come up with alternatives.
No Logo Review
I have a special emotional attachment to No Logo.
It reminds me of my teenage years as a self-styled No Global. I “boycotted” McDonald, Nike, Coca Cola and many other big brands.
Don’t get me wrong, I was nothing more than the typical clueless teenager more concerned about protesting than understanding what he’s protesting against -which is what The Economist criticizes No Logo for-.
But The Economist also misses all the great inputs that No Logo shares. And there are many.
Including, for example, great psychology the brad marketing effects. And, on a more pragmatic tone, the journalistic fervor with which it laid bare the corporate skeletons in the closet of many global brands.
And as well, The Economist and the critics, miss on the fact that idealism can serve an important part in people’s lives.
I think it’s a gift to keep within ourselves a bit of the idealism and drive for a better world.
No Logo might as well be too simplistic and negative -and it is at times-, but it’s also a great book with much wisdom.
Who Should Read No Logo
No Logo is not (simply) a protest book. It’s a shrewed and well researched account on how brands and marketing work, and on the impact they have on a large swath of the population.
I think No Logo should be a must read for: