Why brands are declining

From Brian Gibbs’ letter printed in Wired (January 2005):

The explanation that the decline of brands is due to competition, informed consumers, and constant innovation is insufficient. There’s another factor wreaking havoc. Over the years, brands have lost their meaning because advertising campaigns developed by creative types have been clever and witty, but often not relevant.

Once, brands defined the meaning and mode of civilization: fresher-smelling laundry, tastier tuna, et cetera. Tide used to “get dirt out.” Now it “works wonders,” a vacuous, unprovable claim. Do Tide customers think that getting their laundry clean is a miracle? Do they have an unmet psychological need to deify their detergent? Of course not. Creative-led marketing has wrought the empty brand.