December 29, 2015 | By: Alan McQuarrie

Brand Name Versus No Name: What’s in a Name?

There is a rich tradition in human history of names that describe the nature and quality of a person.  Names like Smith and Barber and Bishop tell us the occupation of a person.  Destiny, Chastity or Joy are names describing character.  Today, names are used as “brands” in order to build trust, loyalty and respect for a product.  Terry O’Reilly in his book "The Age of Persuasion, How Marketing Ate Our Culture" describes modern brands as a contract.  The contract is an implicit understanding that by taking some of our time and attention in advertising, a company will reciprocate by making a promise of quality and satisfaction. For Canadians with debt problems the name brand may not be the ideal choice if those promises aren't realized in the end product. 

In reality, names and brands do not always match our quality expectations. A recent product review of comparable running shoes revealed some startling results. In reviews from 134,867 individuals comparing 24 brands of shoes, they found that users rated lower priced shoes from economical brands higher in quality than the higher priced alternatives from expensive brands such. The reviews also showed a broader correlation across numerous brands where lower cost shoes showed higher quality ratings. Many consumers may be brand loyal but if you are enrolled in a debt management program you may need to leave some preferred brands behind.
Brands help us make quick decisions when faced with complex factors.  When faced with a wall of 100 pairs of shoes, why not just pick the most popular brand? A contributing factor to Canadian's debt problems is simply a lack of thought behind our purchases. There are times when ignoring brand and shopping generics will bring you the best quality. 
Another thing to consider is whether brand name products offer the best value.  Generic or store brands are invariably cheaper.  However, the thing to consider is whether the generic item is equivalent or inferior in quality as well as in price.  This is where personal tastes and preferences come into play.  No name toiletries might be fine for some members of your family.  However, you might prefer the brand name versions of certain items due to quality, comfort or other factors. 
Here are eight pointers to ensure that you don’t get fooled by the name:
  1. Ask people around you how satisfied they are with their product choices to guide your purchases.
  2. Use websites such as for consumer information.
  3. Take brand promises with a grain of salt.  Too much loyalty to a brand can end up costing you much more in the end.  Buy quality over brand.
  4. Learn from your experience; if you are dissatisfied with a brand, go somewhere else.  Companies, like people, can grow complacent.
  5. Avoid wearing brands as status symbols.  Your appeal does not come from the label on your shirt.
  6. Shop no name products whenever they offer equivalent value.  In many cases, “generic” products are manufactured in the same facilities as brand name products.
  7. Carefully consider the packaging as well as the product; in some cases, you are paying much more for the equivalent product in upgraded, branded packaging.
  8. Speak to one of our Credit Counsellors if you have difficulty managing impulses to buy expensive brands.    
Next time you shop for those everyday items you can’t do without, think twice before putting the brand name product in your cart.  Using your discretion and thinking twice can save you dollars and get you better products.  


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