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Brand Bible by Debbie Millman

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F39 Job:09-26878 Title:RP-Brand Bible
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B ranD BIBLe
 of 1947, hundreds
of households across America received the same
special delivery: the Sears Christmas catalog.
Weighing in at 300 pages, it oered everything from
argyle socks to shing tackle to radios. In subsequent
years, the catalogs page count would only grow,
reaching 436 pages by 1958.
1
The magnitude of the
catalog is evidence of a society that had started to
purchase out of want rather than need. Manufactur-
ers and advertisers had attained a newfound pro-
ciency in imbuing objects with values and attributes
that gave them relevance emotionally and psycholog-
ically, but had little to do with the objectsfunctional
characteristics. This skill—an essential aspect of
branding—helped lead post–World War II society to
levels of consumption previously unimaginable.
07
ThE
GREATEST
GENERATIoN
of BRANDS

and

With the end of World War II and the reestablish-
ment of peacetime industry, the United States
began a transformation into one of the worlds
largest economies, primarily driven by the collec-
tive purchasing power of the burgeoning middle
class. The passage of the G.I. Bill in 1944 made
higher education and home ownership attain-
able for millions of servicemen as they returned
home to take on new jobs and start families. They
purchased split-level homes, ranches, and Cape
Cods in rapidly expanding suburbs like Naperville,
Illinois, and Levittown, New York, equipping their
residences with all the accoutrements of a newly
auent society: KitchenAid appliances, RCA tele-
visions, and Corning cookware.
As consumers eagerly indulged in the enjoyments
previously impossible during wartime austerity,
they also began forging a new national identity—
one that linked consumption with freedom and
contrasted American society with life behind the
Iron Curtain. In the book A Consumer’s Republic,
historian Lizabeth Cohen suggests that home
ownership, automobiles, and mass consumption
enabled Americans to eectively “beat the Soviets
at their own game of creating a classless society;
this rendition of the American dream challenged
the assertion that “capitalism created extremes of
wealth and poverty.
2
A Philip Morris
advertisement from
1953 featured the
actress Lucille Ball
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F39 Job:09-26878 Title:RP-Brand Bible
#175 Dtp:204 Page:93
(RAY)
001-320_26879.indd 93 10/6/11 6:33 PM
(Text)
F39 Job:09-26878 Title:RP-Brand Bible
#175 Dtp:204 Page:93
(RAY)
001-320_26879.indd 93
10/6/11 6:17 PM

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