Brands on the Skin: Which Brand would you Choose for a Tattoo?
By Dr Ben Voyer, Associate Professor at ESCP Business School
How far are consumers ready to go to show their love to brands? Consumers are increasingly engaged with their brands, and the latest trend discussed by the BBC is that some of them are ready to commit to their favourite brands for life using tattoos!
Tattoos reveal a lot about our societies, and have become recently ‘de-marginalised’. They went from being a sign of rebellion to being more mainstream and accepted by the masses and the consumer-culture. Branded tattoos are thus a sign that companies and their brands are now playing major roles of identity provider in contemporary societies.
The fact that consumers are now prepared to wear tattoos of brands reveal interesting insights into their personality, and tells us about how brands have evolved to become main providers of lifestyles. Tattoos are thus part of the pop culture, just like brands these days.
The brands that have achieved this status are the ones that have often adopted a very creative approach to marketing, and co-constructed their brand identity with their consumers. They have been offering lifestyles rather than selling products. Be they Nike, Apple, Volkswagen, and, of course, Harley Davidson, these brands have in common a strong followership and a “community feeling. For consumers, displaying a branded tattoo is about signifying both their commitment and belonging to the community and an adhesion to the brand’s lifestyle.
But the phenomenon also reveals an ironic take on consumption. For instance, a consumer wearing a luxury brand / logo as a tattoo, suggests that although he / she might not be able to afford luxury brands, he / she can still ‘wear’ them as tattoos. Such reactions can also be reactions against ‘traditional’ tattoo designs and the culture surrounding these. Brand tattoos are seen as more ‘fun’ and less ‘serious’ than traditional ones.
In sum, the success of branded tattoos is a sign that co-creation of brand-meaning and consumer identity has entered a new age. In this new era, creative marketers will be needed to sustain a healthy relationship between a brand and its devotees.
For more on this topic, you can read what I discussed with a BBC journalist
And this article I wrote for The Conversation, UK: