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In this world of Twitter feeds, Google trends and reality TV, name value can make or break a new product. The name of a brand is important and, accordingly, terms like ‘brand awareness’ and ‘brand identity’ have migrated from the meeting rooms of corporate America and into our daily lives.
The next level, then, is celebrity endorsement. An old-as-the-hills concept that has been picked up, dusted off and given a brand new sheen, the 21st century’s take on celebrity endorsement functions mainly as an amalgamation of two pre-existing brands; in this case, the celebrity’s name (and any values associated with it) and the product manufacturer’s name and brand.
Using this method, Beats were able to transition from what would have been ‘just another consumer electronics outfit’ to a company now closely linked with Hip Hop culture, fashion and music. Before Beats hooked up with superstar rapper ‘Dr. Dre’, consumers had to customize their own music systems to the tune of their preferred type of music. In fact, this writer vividly remembers sticking a ‘DANGER: HIGH VOLTAGE’ sign on the back of an iPod, in order to indicate a love of heavy-duty rock n roll.
Yeah, that worked.
Kids these days go to great lengths to advertise their favourite brands. They buy the tour T-shirts, the hoodies and the limited edition sneakers but, no matter how solidly their fledgling sense of identity may be rooted in the process of consumption, the music itself is still being played through bland, nondescript speaker units. These are speakers that might be used by any other customer for anything from Mozart to Motorhead. Latterly, brands like SkullCandy and Beats have emerged with specific genres of music in mind, and these devices are branded, brazen and instantly recognizable on the streets.
Now, ‘Beats by Dr. Dre’ may be expensive headphones, but they are the only product of their type out there at the moment. Dr. Dre himself has personally approved the design and the specifications are, according to him, the best way to listen to Hip Hop music (his own in particular). The headphones have already proven to be massive sales successes, (despite the price tag) and this is due, almost entirely, to the expert marketing employed by Beats (and the good doctor himself, of course).
So, these are the high-fashion headphones to have, the ultimate accessory for an upcoming rapper with paper to burn. These are as essential a product as the albums they’re designed for listening to.
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