If we’re reading it correctly, The Brander—a Zurich-based online magazine (www.thebrander.com) that just launched on March 10—is proof of two enduring truths in marketing. First, brands are increasingly indistinguishable from life itself, as The Brander’s inaugural issue proves with its nice, long articles about everyone from Dean & Deluca founder Giorgio Deluca to R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills. Second, for better or worse, brands are increasingly indistinguishable from journalism. You see, The Brander is published by Branders Group Ltd., a consulting firm that sells its services to—you guessed it—brands.
But what the heck. You could make the argument that Branders CEO René Allemann—who counts among his clients consumer healthcare giant Novartis, financial firm AXA and watchmaker Titoni—is more than qualified to “combine reports about brand experiences with branding know-how to present the subject in a new, unique and exciting way,” as Olivia El Sayed, The Branders’ editorial manager told us. And, to Allemann’s credit, his firm’s clients do not (thus far) happen to make coincidental appearances in the editorial copy.
The only trouble is that delivering hard-hitting information to branders also means, when necessary, hitting them hard, and this The Brander seems unwilling to do. Here’s a tidbit from the profile of Antonio de Matteis, CEO of Italian luxury clothier Kiton: “The original brand concept of a traditional and upscale sartorial enterprise in Naples remains intact at the core. From the beginning, this manufacturer has stood for quality in suits and men’s shirts. Expensive, Italian and exclusive. A reputation that will be upheld.” Sound like advertising copy to you? Us, too.
Still, the photos sure are pretty and The Brander deserves credit for realizing both that brands make the world go around (at least the financial one) and that great brand names don’t get created by accident; the people behind them matter as much as the nameplates. Too bad, however, that should one of those people end up in jail for something, it very likely won’t be reported in The Brander.