branded utility as public service

Barbarian Benjamin Palmer and Anomalous Johny Vulkan define their concept of branded utility as "brands being genuinely useful to their customers, employees, suppliers and the people they touch." Although this concept his been around for a few years, surely I'm not the only one who'd venture to say that its reality is old-school, e.g. the proverbial friendship with your oh-so-useful shoemaker. (Ok maybe there's no proverb about being friends with your shoemaker, but what about your horse's shoemaker? I.e. your blacksmith?)

Anyways. What I really wanted to say about branded utility was not how actually historic I think it is, but how obvious/ingenious it is as a purveyor of public services. Essentially, if the utilities brands provide are services traditionally provided by governments, like education or healthcare, branded utility starts resembling the provision of public services. Brands already sponsor stuff in order to have their names plastered all over it, but what if brands were integral players in the public service landscape? Sounds scary and ludicrous, I know, but many so-considered public services - like healthcare, education, and even military - are already offered by private actors. So I find it somehow obvious/ingenious that your friend the shoemaker, big poppa Nike with lots of money/resources, could provide you with health services to cultivate your loyalty and help you keep running in his shoes for a long long time.

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