Why do people wear TOMS shoes? Is it because:

  • they want to help those who don’t have shoes?
  • want others to know that they are charitable?
  • TOMS shoes are fashionable?

TOMS shoes are badged goods. People could have donated directly to a cause, but wearing TOMS demonstrates to others that they do so.

Why do people drive Priuses? Is it because:

  • they want to save the planet?
  • they want to save gas?
  • they want others to think that they care about carbon emissions?

Prius is a badged good. There are many ways, even more effective ways, to reduce one’s carbon footprint, but driving a Prius demonstrates to others that they do so.

Badged Goods

Badged goods are goods that allow a consumer to utilize and, at the same time, proclaim that brand’s intentions. This is the same as wearing a certain brand shirt. It evokes a certain image of who you are.

The only factor, as the label suggests, is that it has to be public. Hidden benefits are hard to sell.

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As an example of hidden benefits, consider perishable goods. They are a little bit more difficult to convey their respectable brands because they simply expire.

Take Thanksgiving (or any holiday party). How would you know whether the host served an organic fowl from Whole Foods or a discount bird from Food 4 Less unless there was a label next to the entrée or the host “claimed” it so.

Likewise, whether intentionally or coincidentally, Umami Burgers (a restaurant franchise) brands its burgers by searing the top of its buns with the U logo.

Therefore, whenever someone posts his/her food onto social media, it’s obvious where it came from.

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With that said, badged goods are only as effective as the reach of the brand. If you cannot communicate what your brand represents, then it is no more effective than a random logo on a napkin. However, if done so correctly, your brand and its representations could be recognized, authenticated, and reciprocated by your target audience.

Halo Effect

If your brand is not clear or well communicated, then it is not a bad idea to associate yourself with a positive brand. For example, in America, a person who has a British accent automatically sounds smarter and looks sexier. That is because Britain is cool-ish.

This is the same as a person who graduated from Harvard. It doesn’t matter what the study was in, Harvard’s strong brand carries over to the graduate.

What does your brand represent? What value will your client get by associating with your brand? Conversely, if it’s not a good brand, they might even try to hide it or always have to justify their decision.

tiffany and co


Branding is a complex issue. The following steps cannot simplify it, but they’re a good start:

  1. As mentioned in Limitations, your first goal is to have a clear and concise brand. That, in itself, is a difficult task.
  2. If you’ve successfully done so, then making it a badged good with a strong, positive meaning would be the next step.
  3. Lastly, you have to transmit that to the masses … or, at least, to those who matter.

Think carefully. Your approach may not come immediately, but definitely put this strategy on the back burners.

Happy holidays,

Lawrence Chan

Happy Early Thanksgiving

P.S. What are you thankful for? Comment below!

Among many things, I am thankful for my friends, new and old, for keeping life fun.

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