If you track back in time and watch closely how people interact with a particular brand identity, you’ll notice that they display similar behavioural traits in their relations with brands as they do in the way they engage with people. People’s interaction with brands is an emotional one, even if we don’t acknowledge it at the time.
Long before we had logos or corporate identities to Photoshop onto a digital strategy, people’s personalities were the representation of a brand. This still exists to a degree today, but only in small, localised areas. Think about quaint country villages where the local producers of fresh food, baked goods and meat have to build up a solid rapport with the town’s people; knowing full well that a few kilometres away the city beckons with a wide array of competitive, bulk produce.
The personal relationship built up with each person or family is indicative of their brand management and their brand identity becomes reliant on the interaction between producer and purchaser. The product is judged not only by its quality, but also by the personality and vivacity of the producer; the same mechanic in which brands are judged.
Using Human Interaction to Build Brand Identity
If we delve into this in a little more detail, you’ll notice that successful brand management and the curating of a brand identity is just another way of building relationships with people.
The Relational Capital Group collaborated with social psychologists Dr Susan T Fiske and Dr Nicolas O Kervyn of Princeton University to conduct a series of studies into consumer behaviour when it comes to brands. The studies were conducted with over 5,000 American adults and 41 leading brands. These were their findings.
1. Warmth and Competence Stir up Customer Loyalty
Whether we realise it or not, consumers evaluate a brand identity based on the warmth and competence they exude. The studies showed that making a purchase, the intent to purchase and customer loyalty is an emotive reaction that is based largely on the consumer’s interpretation of the brand’s warmth and competence. This makes it a crucial element in the development of a digital strategy.
2. Features and Benefits of a Brand Don’t Tell All
At times, key features and benefits are highlighted and relied upon to market a brand, but they’ve been found to be insufficient on their own. Up to 40% of the potential loyalty available to brands can be lost, especially when brands don’t pay attention to the consumer’s warmth and competence perceptions and only focus on the features and benefits.
3. Loyalty is driven by Honesty and Selflessness
As we mentioned earlier, human interaction matches very closely with brand engagement, which makes honesty and selflessness two major drivers when it comes to customer loyalty. Trust is a major factor that determines whether or not a customer can become loyal to a brand or not; not far from identical to human relationships.
As with human relations, by viewing a brand as safe, we feel as though we can take the next step towards engaging with it. This is called the Principle of Worthy Intentions and it places the customer above concerns such as short-term profits.
This act of taking the consumers interests to heart is perceived as trustworthy and it develops an incredible sense of loyalty between consumer and brand, which in turn positively impacts purchase intent.
4. Worthy Intentions – Where Brands Fall Short
The Principle of Worthy Intentions is often overlooked due to greed and selfishness, which is great for short-term profits, but does little for brand loyalty. Building and maintaining brand loyalty takes time and can often arise from the most unexpected places. 93% of customers stated that product recalls offer the perfect environment for a brand to display their true colours.
On top of that, another 87% stated that their loyalty to the brand would only be accentuated, if this process was handled in a way that displays genuine care and concern for the consumer.
5. Customers Are Loyal to People, Not Brands
There’s no doubt that consumers develop relationships with brands , but research has suggested that these relationships are actually based on the fact that there are people behind these brands . Everything from the packaging down to the service delivery communicates the element of the warmth and competence behind a brand .
Social influence helps people form opinions about the people behind these brands, without ever having had personal contact with them. Once an opinion has been formed it’s very difficult to sway, which makes it ever more important to ensure that the actions of a brand are ethical at the same time as displaying genuine concern for the consumer.