Amazon: a brand in digital media

 

Unlike Disneyland, walking into Amazon world, if there was one, does not involve taking trips to town square and indulging in the multi-themed superstores. However, like the overwhelming entrance into a dimension of wonder like Disneyland, the online dimensions may still accommodate consumer and sensory needs.

The coming analysis will involve the study of Amazon as a brand of ‘New Media’.

The concepts of brand and New Media will be examined under the scopes of scholarly cross analysis. Using the works of Naomi Klein and Lev Manovich with their respective findings, Amazon will undergo the examination of what it means to be a brand in the digital world. The study is to ultimately highlight the question: does the digital world develop brands in the same order as the real world?

In Naomi Klein’s No Logo, business entities like Disney and Viacom are put under the light of Branding and the brands interaction with all that’s social. A “fantastically fake theme park”, as Klein describes Disneyland, is the textbook example, however the terms fantastic and theme park are essential to understand Klein’s arguments and observations. Fantastic alludes at a notion or a feeling while theme park alludes to a place or a destination. In one possible format at least, Klein just described a brand.

The American Marketing Association, AMA, defines a brand as “a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”

Klein has three observations that may help in understanding a digital brand like Amazon. Firstly, there is the idea of a branded village which Klein best describes as “a cross between a catalog showroom and an actual living room.”

A branded village is, for instance, a Virgin megastore, where a physical destination of a business encompasses a grand portion of the brand’s idea. The red themed Virgin stores promote the arts and music by creating a complimentary dimension to the physical one where the ideas of the brand transcend material. Walking into one of the stores does not only tackle the sensory aspects of a physical brand location but also enforces a world to be consumed.

Opening Amazon’s website, on the other hand, does not do a ‘village’ justice. A barrage of advertisements and possible products to buy is the first thing encountered. Of course there are no sensory aspects other than visual in this digital venue either, making the visit more focused on the purpose of consumption rather than the experience.

Secondly, with Klein’s ideas, there is the idea of creating destination. Klein describes this idea as the process of building a place “not only to shop but also visit” where tourism becomes an accompanying phenomenon. Like the village concept or Disneyland again, creating a destination for the brand involves a place made for high consumption. Unlike that idea, creating a destination involves a phenomena of consumption and product placement altogether; Klein gives the example of Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive where many high-end brands have set up camp there.

With Amazon, the destination is created digitally. Opening up a decently aged account on Amazon and viewing one’s options may not be a fancy Rodeo Drive but the destination is created with all the consumer’s highest valued businesses present. In this criterion, Amazon does build very specific data-based Rodeo Drives and destinations for its consumers.

Thirdly, in Klein’s ideas, there is the idea of brand synergy. The idea stems out of the crusade waged against anti-trust laws when former president Ronald Reagan eliminated many of these laws. In return, colossal companies began to merge and become one. Consolidation became the eventual norm and corporations, the newly consolidated cartels, became massive monopolies. Klein describes brand synergy as the process of “brand extension” which is also the desire that fuels companies to merge.

According to Crunchbase.com, Amazon has acquired 79 other businesses. Several database companies and data-mining companies along with international acquisitions like Souq.com, an online shopping platform in the Middle East. Amazon had also recently bought Whole Foods Market adding more large scale companies to the empire Jeff Bezos, founder and owner of Amazon.

In the digital world, however, Amazon just might reign supreme. According to Lev Manovich’s New Media from Borges to HTML, his second proposition defines new media as “the cultural objects which use digital computer technology for distribution and exhibition.”

Manovich explains that new media must be purely digital for distribution and exhibition, like Amazon; a digital platform that sells and displays its products on a digital plane and nowhere else.

In Manovich’s fifth proposition, there is more rhetoric supporting the idea of Amazon being a digital destination just as Disneyland is a ‘real’ one. Manovich states that the digital world is an aesthetic stage in which all new media must go through whilst still being susceptible to change over time.

Using these ideas, Amazon is a digital world in itself despite a human consumer’s inability to interact with the digital medium as he/she would with a real one like Disneyland. The ‘dimension’ is different therefore the rule of interaction differ as well.

What is ultimately ironic is Amazon’s mission statement in relation to the aforementioned analyses. “Earth’s most customer-centric company” is the head slogan which in turn hints to this idea of a consumer-producer dimension.

So the next time you think of buying something online, remember: you are stepping into your own data specialized world.

Beware of any black holes approaching you from the digital abyss of online capitalism.

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