How fit is fittest?
This paper documents the changing role of brands over the past fifty years. Originally created to individualize products, brands began instead to individualize people, culminating today with megabrands competing with other megabrands for a larger and larger share of peoples spirits and souls. This is a story of escalating strength, energy and influence, where todays brands have taken on power that more than one observer has likened to rivaling that of nation states. As they enter The Third Age of their evolution, it is proposed that the further weakening or strengthening of brands will be challenged by electronic commerce. The paper concludes by asking whether marketers and researchers have new responsibilities in a world inhabited by increasingly powerful brands.
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