Original Post: The Rise of the Unbrand
By Mitch Joel | January 31, 2013
“While the Internet has brought with it many media disruptions, it has also created a truly global marketplace for fine artists… Suddenly, through online marketplaces like eBay and Etsy, individual artists have a global audience and are able to sell their creations to anybody and everybody who takes the time to discover them. In these instances, it has also become common for artists to work directly with their customers to deliver both the perfect size and look for their homes and offices.”
This is a really thoughtful piece. I guess I have been so long engrossed in the “branding” environment, that I hadn’t even stopped to consider the “Rise of the Unbrand,” which is truly changing the way people produce and buy.
There are two other thoughts that come to mind in regards to the rise that weren’t addressed in the article. Besides eBay and Etsy, Pinterest is also providing these artists a lot of foothold. If your product gets pinned on a board, and then repinned over and over (which usually happens), then you’ve got instant, grassroots marketing — at no cost to you. Word-of-mouth is extremely powerful for the artist in this digital age.
Another reason for the rise of the unbrand (which was touched on briefly): knowing who is making your product. Even going beyond customization, today’s customers (especially the Millennials) are increasingly concerned about WHO is making their products and in WHAT environment. American Apparel is huge because the products are “Made in America,” where employees are paid decent wages and work in good conditions. If you can go on Etsy to buy something, you know you are supporting an artisan — whether that person is in the United States or Thailand. This is a huge advantage for the “unbrand.”