Most of us can agree that we are nearly constantly bombarded with advertisements. Drive down the street, you’ll see billboards. Flip on the television, you’ll see commercials. Power up your laptop, you’ll see ads. Walk through the aisles of Target, you’ll see logos and labels screaming “choose me! buy me!” Screaming. Our world seems to be noisy–very noisy–all the time.
It’s only in the moments of solicited solitude that we can find white space, breathing room, clarity. UK department store Selfridge & Co. has decided to change this by introducing a variety of well known products…sans the noise…sans the labels, a quiet room within the store, and free online meditation courses.
Yes, you can actually buy these well-known products without their famous labels! Pretty strange, huh? They do seem quieter. Boring almost. Visual identity is such a hugely integral part of a brand that these label-less versions don’t feel authentic to me. Each item pictured above typically represents a strong brand and visual identity. By simply removing the worded labels, the entire brand seems to lose value. I see a small jar of cream, yellow lotion, headphones, and ketchup. Not Creme de la Mer, Clinique, Beats, and Heinz.
Not only has Selfridge & Co. “silenced” these products, they’ve also muted a variety of clothing and accessories, as can be found on their charming No Noise Website (you’ve gotta check it out!). Additionally, each department store is now equipped with a quiet room as shown above, where customers can take a break from the noise and energy of our world.
The company has taken their newfound investment in quiet outside of the context of their stores as well. Through a partnership with Headspace, the modern meditation experts, Selfridge & Co. offers a myriad of tips on silencing our world…everything from keeping the “noise” at a minimum while shopping to finding peace during a work commute. The company is even offering free online ten-minute meditation courses so that people can get themselves some headspace!
As someone who appreciates space and silence, I find this initiative intriguing. I’m wondering what the company’s ultimate goal is…I’d venture to guess that by standing alongside their customers and gently leading them to purchase instead of yelling (literally or figuratively), Selfridge & Co. will gain respect, loyalty, and profits. On the No Noise website, the “why” is answered as follows:
As we become increasingly bombarded with information and stimulation, the world is becoming a noisier place. In an initiative that goes beyond retail, we invite you to celebrate the power of quiet, see the beauty in function and find calm among the crowds.
I may be halfway across the world, but I’m on board with this celebration of quiet. I’m interested to see how the initiative turns out for the department store.
What do you think? Had you heard of the No Noise initiative? Would you purchase the label-less products?
Katie P says
Very interesting post Blair! I am very intrigued by this whole idea of “no noise.” A part of me really likes it. It seems like such a good way to leave all the pettiness of brand names and labels behind and simply buy your products for what they are and for what you need. On the other hand, though, I almost feel like it is pushing us back in time.
So much of marketing today is based around branding and brand loyalty that I think this initiative could throw everything we know on its head. I hate to say it, but so many of the things I buy are due to the labels and brands that come with them. When I went to buy a computer I didn’t just want any computer, I wanted an Apple computer. And why? Because it was a brand I knew that I was familiar with and comfortable with. I had experience with it and trusted it.
Another interesting point to think about would be how many people would buy less “stuff” if there were no longer brand names or labels linked to their products. Maybe people wouldn’t consider buying that extra Coach purse that they didn’t really need because there is no status associated with it. All in all, very interesting campaign. I would like to follow it and see what ends up happening with this.
I agree, this is a very intriguing initiative. I couldn’t image walking into a store and seeing items without labels. It could be very peaceful and serene in comparison to how the real world bombards us with advertisements and labels, but I agree with Blaire. A lot of the things I purchase are brand names that I trust. If i spend a lot of money on something, I want to know that the it will last. For example, I buy Macs because I like that their brand ensures no viruses and safer systems.
Our brand-driven marketplace can be a little overwhelming and annoying at times, but I don’t know what I would do without the names and brand perceptions guiding me in big purchase decisions.
Katie Bloom says
Blair, I agree with the comments I see above. This is definitely an interesting campaign to keep an eye on, but I wonder how it will do when actually put to the test. The thing that interested me even more is the partnership with Headspace that is working to “silence” people’s worlds. As our day-to-day lives become more and more overwhelming with marketing, social media, and other forms of technology, I can see how people will appreciate a brand that has realized the effects of being overwhelming and wants to solve a problem. Any brand that can solve a problem and associate its name with a feeling (in this case the feeling being relaxation) will far surpass any other brand that fails to do so. I also agree with you, that this is a very “gentle” way of bringing in customers. If this campaign is executed equally as gently as it seems to be portrayed now, I think it will spark some long-term brand equity.
Blair Menzel says
Thanks for your comment, Katie! In a world of noise, I think this is a great way to gain brand recognition and loyalty in a different way!