July 25, 2013


Credit: M - Pics
One of my most loyal readers recently sent me a Forbes article that made me stop dead in my tracks. According to the article, it seems that Aston Martin has been selling a car known as the Cygnet for around $45,000. The twist is that the Cygnet is actually a Toyota model in disguise and can be purchased for around $17,000! The cars may be nearly identical, minus some small, interior differences, but the prices sure aren’t very similar! To my horror and chagrin, I’ve now learned that Aston Martin is not the only global auto maker engaged in the practice of putting their signature brand distinctions on other car companies’ models, or so-called “badge engineering,” but this article also got me thinking… An Aston Martin is my dream car, but surely I wouldn’t pay $28,000 extra for essentially a hood ornament, would I?

Well, when it comes to ketchup, I guess I’m a snob. Only Heinz is ketchup. When it comes to soda, I’m strictly a Coca-Cola guy with a rare Dr. Pepper mixed in. When it comes to everyday, outdoor boots, I only buy Timberland.

But I’m not always so brand-driven. When it comes to sunglasses, I don’t care. Whatever feels good, looks cool, and is under $20 is fine with me. When it comes to bottled water, I really don’t care whose plastic packaging I’m using. When it comes to toothpaste, whatever is on sale and doesn’t have baking soda in it is probably what’s going to be on my toothbrush.

I’m sure if you were to think about it, there are items that you “have to have” from a certain brand and other items you couldn’t care less about. You may be different from me and really value your limited edition sunglasses that I’d probably store in my safety deposit box, and that’s just fine. The point I’m trying to make is that everyone, including me, would probably have a little more money in the bank if they paused for just a moment and made sure they weren’t buying a “Toyota” at an “Aston Martin’s” price.

Take men’s golf shirts, for example. I love golf shirts. They’re my torso cover of choice! I like mediums and larges depending on their size (and mine, too) that are solid or have a few stripes. I like reds, blues, grays, greens, yellows, blacks, browns, and burgundies. As long as their color doesn’t resemble a highlighter or an Easter egg, we’re good. As you can see, I’m fairly particular, and over the years I have amassed quite an arsenal, including all sorts of brands from all sorts of stores. And to be completely honest, a lion’s share of my golf shirts have probably been purchased at a store like Kohl’s during a sale and have probably run me around $20 or so. Now if you wouldn’t be caught dead in a store like Kohl’s or wearing a golf shirt that cost $20, I’m not judging you, because I don’t want you judging me for my Timberland boots. However, I would encourage you to think about just how much that crocodile (Lacoste), guy on a horse with a mallet (Polo), or red and white rectangles (Tommy Hilfiger) on the left side of your chest are really worth to you. I mean a golf shirt is a golf shirt to some degree, isn’t it?

So my female readers out there can relate, let’s talk shoes. I’m somewhat “branded” in the sense that my tennis shoes will be Nike or New Balance, but I usually buy my shoes at a store like Sports Authority when they are trying to get rid of last year’s styles. Now I learned a long time ago not to judge women by their shoes (and certainly not by how many they have), but I would encourage you to think about just how much having the soles of your high heels being “Louboutin red” is really worth to you. A shoe is a shoe to some degree, isn’t it?

Let me once again emphasize that I’m not trying to step on any toes today. If you want an “Aston Martin” and can afford an “Aston Martin Toyota,” be my guest. But, if you are like me, and are trying to save a little bit more, I encourage you to take a few minutes and think about what items you may be a little bit “branded” by, and consider whether or not buying a “Toyota” at a “Toyota’s” price may be a better idea.



  1. Great entry today, Tom! I smiled the entire time I was reading it! In my opinion, one of your best!

  2. AnonymousJuly 25, 2013

    I feel the difference between a Mac laptop and another Windows laptop also deserves a mention here.