Source: Sherman Publications

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Gabe’s Gripes: iHate senseless loyalty

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

May 30, 2012

Consumerism and product placement dominate a large part of our lives here in the United States, but while there are hundreds of columns in that subject, today the subject is brand loyalty.

And why it's foolish.

Lately I've run into a lot of what could be described as "Apple zealots" as the iPhone is now available on nearly every cell phone network, but I maintain a hatred of this device despite the popularity its garnered. When I was essentially forced to switch to a smart phone summer last year, I spent more money to avoid owning an iPhone. Yet while I have my problems with a company that seems to expect their customers to buy a new phone every year (since 2007 five iPhones have released), my biggest grip is with the people who own them.

I listened to someone defend Apple for the work conditions in their China-based factories that are apparently so bad that "suicide nets" have been put up around the facility walls to catch jumpers. I've seen teenagers demand of their parents the new version of their phone while visiting my local wireless store. I've been asked before to compare different phones for a friend to best suit his needs and those of his fiance only to have her order him to buy iPhones because they're "cooler."

All because of the air of superiority Apple puts into their advertising.

I'm not even saying the phones are poor pieces of technology - they're actually among the most stable on the market because of their somewhat restrictive systems. But the smugness of people who own them, stand by them and won't accept anything other than them as a legitimate tool has bordered on infuriating for me. It is equal to telling someone the truth and watching them plug their ears while singing "la la la."

It's not only Apple that is guilty of this superiority complex - I've recently met other zealots, including Nikon camera owners going out of their way to point out that their camera is better than my Canon. What makes it a better camera exactly?

Recent(ish) reports say the auto focus is fractions of a second faster, which is great if you're a professional sports photographer but these people are at high school sporting events. There are a lot of people that say the body of a Nikon camera is more durable and higher quality, but then those same people say the same about Canon lenses. In the end most sources say buy whichever camera fits you better because the difference is negligible.

So that leaves the cost - Nikon cameras on average cost more than a Canon of equal value. This, I suppose, leads half the people I meet while taking pictures to instantly remark on my camera's brand, to the point where I now joke around with them, usually everyone chuckles and we can move on with life.

Then recently I met a guy who didn't chuckle and became quite serious. I continued to try to make light of the "brand war" and even complimented his equipment but he turned, stared at me, said "I don't know about all that, but I know that MY camera takes nice pictures," bid me goodbye and turned back to his subject.


I feel I need to point out that most people, even those who I've mentioned here, are at most times perfectly pleasant people. Most people don't even bring up the subject because arguing over who made the "right" purchase is a tiring, boring subject. But when you meet someone who insists on these comparisons, the worst thing happens - you begin to become loyal to your brand.

The best thing to do, as always, is to research everything you purchase to find the best cost to value ratio or do what most normal people do - go with your gut. I needed gas the other day, so I scanned prices, not logos. The restaurant didn't have Coke so I took Pepsi. Goodyear didn't have a size that fit my car, so I went with Michelin. Windows or Mac both can produce and print a text document.

I have my loyalties like anyone else, but I do my own research and find my own preferences. If anything the brand loyalty of other people has turned me against their products which is in neither the company's best interests nor their loyal followers.

If nothing else, just don't ram your opinions down other peoples throats, especially when they've made it clear that they don't care.