“The issue is always the same: the government or the market. There is no third solution." (Mises 1981 p.28)
Often when my mother-in-law comes to visit she praises our garlic crusher, and to be fair, it's an excellent utensil - but it's the type of thing you wouldn't replace for yourself. With Christmas approaching it'd make an ideal stocking filler, however it doesn't have any logo. We can't remember where we bought it from, and there's no sign on it to signal the make. So we won't be able to buy one, and this is a pity. It's a neat encapsulation of what brands are good for - they provide us with information. Nothing spectacular, they just help our consumption.
This morning I noticed at least 4 people re-painting the benches and lamps at Radlett station. First Capital Connect seem to believe that when commuters are willing to spend over a tenner for an off-peak trip to the library, they expect that revenue to be reinvested in a lick of paint. Forget fixing the ticket machines. Forget longer trains or more frequent services. Forget air conditioning. We want all references to Thameslink (dark blue and yellow) to be banished, in favour of a brand new era for FCC (dark blue and pink). From Mill Hill to St Albans, the yellow trim around the lamp posts are becoming pink.
Almost with every cabinet reschuffle, the Prime Minster reorganises whole departments. And when BERR comes in to replace the DTI, they need a new logo. They need a new identity. A new "vision". The opposition leader is a PR guy in a PR world. Branding is fundamentally politics. Politics is branding.
I get the feeling that things that are synonymous with markets are often criticised because they are poorly implemented by governments.