We now know that the Nazis had an intense marketing network in place, even if they did not know of the concept at that time. The question now arises;
- What was the Nazi brand?
- Was it even a brand in the first place?
- How did they go about expanding it?
- And what was the reason behind their growth and persuasiveness?
In this Part 1 of the Nazi Marketing in Society Series, we investigated if there was a Nazi Brand and its characteristics. In the second part, we covered in more detail Nazi Marketing Strategy, Methodology and also its Output. In the third part, we’re going to cover in detail Nazi Marketing Channels and Nazi Marketing Distribution.
The Nazi Brand
The power of the Nazi brand came from the systematic presentation and the mythology they created around their symbols and shapes.
The Nazis had an iconic system in a place whose objective was to remind the masses about the omnipresence of the Nazi state. The symbolic presence was everywhere.
They strategically placed the swastika everywhere in their country to construct and strengthen the Nazi public persona.
This coherence and synergy to images and symbols was nothing that any state had ever done before, which resulted in the complete control of the state’s people and beliefs.
The constant reminder of the state’s control and the propagation of these symbols and phrases psychologically engraved an image of a paradise in the Nazi state.
This is the same strategy as we see in consumer marketing, where the priority is to spread the belief that this product or service is the solution you have been looking for. The German writer Hans Domizlaff had argued that the objective of German marketing was to create a persona ‘whose entire aura generated a sense of trust and well being.’ Domizlaff believed that the mass public had irrational reasoning and was susceptible to ‘primitive sensory organs.’
Even if this may have been the case, the success of Nazi branding is evident that their strategies were on point in persuading the masses.
The Nazi Symbolism
The symbolism in the Nazi state was carefully chosen and placed to propagate specific feelings in the public. Eagles were present everywhere, on logos and during rallies and public gatherings. The motif designed by Albert Speer for the city of Nuremberg included a gigantic eagle, which is a symbol of victory, longevity, and freedom. Oak trees and leaves were also present everywhere, symbolizing wisdom, endurance, and strength.
Thus, the state was driven by a well-thought-out formula that consistently introduced new symbolism to influence public perception, and they strengthened this perception through repetition. The parades, fares, choruses, banners, and universal speeches were a constant to spread the reliance and grandeur of the state.
Even at official parties, there were traditional prayer hymns and recitation of verses, everything to emphasize the ideology of the Nazi brand.
The symbolism extended from the feelings of trust and strength. The Nazis state also kept the militaristic and economic aspects in mind. The parties were self-sustaining. The Oak trees, the Knight’s Cross, and ceremonial daggers all contributed to the Nazi propaganda and almost romanticized the expected violence. They presented these invitations to violence as heroic feats.
Nazi’s Branding Strategy
Branding strategies include every aspect of a company’s product that they are advertising. The strategy is put together to influence public perception and feelings and uses feedback to improve the network further. The same was the case with the Nazis. They operated very much like a brand, as we have already seen. They had proper planning, logo system, symbolism, and symbolism to influence the public’s conscious and unconscious psyche.
One of Germany’s leading advertisers observed that Nazis had proven political influence through their branding and propagated their ideology better than any firm or factory of the time. The swastika was more recognizable than any other symbol could have been, and to this day, it has its meaning in every part of the world. Even in the post-war era, the National Liberation Front (FLN) purchased pistols with the swastika brands from a society that was a victim of the Nazis. Such was the power of the meaning behind the symbol. It has been a highly marketable military brand ever since.
Hitler and Nazi Marketing
The consistency of Nazi symbolism was one of the main reasons for its success. The branding was consistent and relentless throughout their regime. As is a famous rule in brand marketing, one of the critical aspects of brand marketing is consistency and uniformity. When the same symbol is propagated for long enough, it becomes recognizable. Hitler himself said, “All advertising, whether in the field of business or politics, achieves success through the continuity and sustained uniformity of its applications.”
The iterations went beyond just images and symbols. There was a verbal part of the brand, which was equally as important as all the symbolism. One of the most well-known and most chanted slogans of the Nazis was “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer,” which translates to “One People, One Empire, One Leader.” These words were not a mere chant but an integral part of the Nazi ideology, and their constant repetition made them an integral part of every person’s mind.
Propaganda has been around for many years and around all factions, but more closely in the ones that seek to impose their will on others by force. Several tactics are employed that consist of positive and negative reinforcement and above all repetition! As Hitler himself put it, repetition and consistency are the keys to success!
- Can you recall your government embracing some of these tactics to manipulate public behaviour and opinion?
- Can you recall your government trying to divide society into groups?
- Can you recall your government rewarding citizens because they belong to a certain group or have certain beliefs?
- Can you recall your government punishing citizens if they don’t subscribe to a certain belief/action/ or have certain characteristics?
- Do you recall your government exceeding its scope and violating your God-given rights of freedom, association/assembly, and private property?
- Do you recall your government claiming unprecedented circumstances to enact legislation for the “common good” that consists in violations of someone God-given rights?
If any or several of the above circumstances took place at any time in any region. You might have a Tyrant (or group of tyrants) in your government. For your own sake and for the sake of your offspring, resist and organize a resistance.
We already had enough Tyrants and Dictators in this world.
Nazi Perspective of Consumer Marketing
Today, no one can deny the economic importance of consumerism in the United States. Consumer spending now accounts for about 70% of the Gross National Product. The countdown to special winter shopping days, most notably “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” has taken on a ritualistic feel. Economists and journalists, particularly during recessions, scrutinize retail sales numbers to gauge the nation’s pulse.
As President George W. Bush argued following 9/11, shopping might even be considered a form of patriotism: purchasing food, clothing, houses, and Christmas presents seen as a noble act on behalf of national health.
Given shopping’s centrality in the US national discourse, one may conclude that America’s obsessive preoccupation with consumption is unusual. This is not correct. For well over a century, governments worldwide have sought to understand the relationship between “getting and spending” and their country’s well-being.
Nazi Germany provided an arresting backdrop for this preoccupation. When the US considers a society saturated with misinformation and violence, the seemingly innocuous act of shopping does not immediately come to mind. Nonetheless, the Nazis made it quite evident that their goal was not only to establish an “Aryan” homeland and overrun Europe.
They desired to create a prosperous country with more consumer opportunities and a superior standard of living than the United States.
Mass Consumption – The Nazis Adoption
Of course, it’s unsurprising that the Nazis cared so much about consumers. After all, Hitler’s pet goal was to provide economical mass transit to the populace (as long as they were not Jews, Roma, homosexuals, or otherwise racially, mentally, or physically “compromised”).
The Nazis owed a great deal of their success to the economy’s rebound following the Great Depression. However, most people are unaware that hundreds of everyday products — many of which USA citizens continue to purchase today — played a significant role in Nazi culture and ideology.
When we purchase laundry detergents or over-the-counter medications such as Persil soap or Bayer aspirin, we purchase the wares of German corporations that sold their products throughout the Third Reich during the 1930s and 1940s. Effective detergents and medications were expected to keep the German “Volk” healthy and pure. When we purchase Sanka coffee, Knorr soups, Nivea lotions, or Hugo Boss clothes, we purchase products with a history inextricably linked to Germany’s troubled past.
Naturally, each of these products and their manufacturers has its distinct history. They do, however, share a view of Germany as a vibrant modern consumer culture.
Looking during the Nazi years, we see how marketers approached such things when the state was preparing for a race war. We believe that advertising in such an environment was identical to propaganda—violent, coercive, and replete with anti-Semitic imagery.
However, marketing specialists’ work matched their counterparts in other nations, such as the United States, not racist dictatorships. And the businesses who supplied these things maintained a certain level of normalcy during this period.
Simultaneously, the Nazis regarded marketing and advertising as unique—as a method of mobilizing popular support for their barbaric goals through promises of “the good life.”
Nazi Germany Commercial Environment
Corporations screened commercials and mini-documentaries about their products before screening a feature picture, apart from the worldwide newspaper and magazine advertisements.
Celebrities such as boxer Max Schmeling promoted decaf coffee, while consumer researchers canvassed neighborhoods to learn about people’s favorite hair tonics, handbags, and hosiery. And well-attended trade shows and exposition pavilions were brimming with the accouterments of contemporary life: plastic items, refrigerators, automobiles, toys, and clothing.
The Nazis tolerated not all forms of commerce. Billboards were restricted, radio advertisements were prohibited, and as Germany entered the war, quality products were increasingly scarce, and marketing rules tightened.
However, the pre-war marketplace’s broad sense of normalcy—and the promise of future abundance throughout the war—did enable people to rally behind the Nazis and, in an indirect way, facilitate their crimes. And when well-known corporations assisted Nazi criminals — through the employment of forced concentration camp labor — they did it not in the name of racial engineering but to profit from the sale of automobiles, apparel, and aspirin.
Finally, mass consumption remained a critical component of the Nazi ideology until the end of World War II, when the idea of a well-supplied Aryan super-race crumbled beneath the ruins of Germany’s towns and cities.
In short, the Nazis knew what they were doing and laid the basis for some strategies still being used. They came up with a brand to influence domestic, political, military, and public perceptions to align them with their objectives.
Propagating their ideals under a brand has proven to work, and history itself is the evidence. The systematic structure and repetition of uniform symbols are the reason for the Nazis’ insane success in persuading their people under their slogan.
It may feel unjust to compare their feats with branding strategies, but it shows how they used strategies that have been proven to work during their time in ways that might not have been even fathomable.
Nazis were ahead of their time in propagating ideas and creating influence. Dictators and Tyrants today have a much easier job in implementing similar tactics, therefore it’s important to remain vigilant as Thomas Jefferson suggested.