My very astute friend Tanner Helland noted
the contrast between my “KrocOS” article (which is very
‘anti-brand’) and my recent article on OSnews “Five Years of
Firefox: A Retrospective” which is quite the opposite, appearing very ‘pro-brand’. (Due to
OSnews rules I cannot republish my OSnews articles on this website until 30 days after they have appeared on
I can be very complicated to understand sometimes, and seem hypocritical or at odds with what I’ve said
before—especially since I am so vocal about some subjects. When I contradict myself, it is because my principles
are based on something that those two items share, rather than what is assumed to be my principles by what they do
not share. How can I be anti-brand and pro-brand at the same time? Because my primary concern is the end-user, the
regular Joe using the computer who is thrown to the lions in this unforgiving computer landscape.
A brand is only acceptable to me when it is a brand that the public take ownership of and outwardly use themselves
for the public benefit. In the case of Firefox, I still feel that it would have been better if it were simply called
“Internet Browser” or “Web Browser”, because every day I have to explain to people the difference between
the “Blue ‘e’” and Firefox, and why they have to click on “Mozilla Firefox” to get on the Internet,
rather than the more aptly named “Internet Explorer”—that said, because Internet Explorer has dominated so
greatly, the name Firefox has given people a way to refer to something better and to spread the word. Firefox’s
grass roots movement is unequalled in computer history, it’s truly a global movement. In that sense, the public
have taken it upon their selves to use the brand how they see fit and well beyond what Mozilla could have ever
imagined in the first place. Other brands that fulfil this purpose are Ubuntu, for example.
Now, in the opposite corner are brands that are primarily to exert the dominance and will of the company, rather
than serve public benefit. At what point, ever, have Adobe served the public benefit? Many brands of software on the
computer simply abuse the end users with crap, unwanted, unwarranted
software that changes settings and hijacks the machine. This sort of thing is completely unacceptable to me.
This sort of use of the ‘brand hammer’ I hate.
(A quick search of Google seems to show that “brand hammer” is a term unique to me, so I should explain:
The brand hammer is when companies hit users with needless and heavy branding, and abusive, invasive pushing of
their brand to force it into public consciousness. For example, Microsoft’s heavy handed rebranding of Live to
Bing whereby they changed every search box in every single property of theirs to be Bing branded and set about
changing people’s defaults to Bing with Live Messenger updates &c.)
All that’s left to say is that I basically spend every day fighting against stupid companies doing stupid things
and making end user’s lives harder with their misguided and often incompetent software & hardware and
institutionalised contempt for customers. If they ever got their act together, I would be out of a job.
They will never get their act together.