I decided long ago that I like Coca Cola products.
First, I enjoyed the flavor of Coke. That sweet, sweet fizz… Soon I “liked” everything the company produced. I advocated for Coca-Cola products of all varieties, even the ones I didn’t drink!
By extension, I decided I didn’t like Coke’s rivals. I avoided them, to match my new public identity.
Cognitive science has demonstrated that once someone publicly announces a position on a topic, that person rarely changes his mind. Any new evidence or challenge against that believe will backfire, causing the believer to dig in deeper.
Think about it — how many arguments have you really won? People almost never change their minds!
In a previous post, I rambled about the importance of being likable, and of liking other people (Have you read it?)
People liking other people is essential in the art of persuasion and influence. We all want to feel understood and loved, am I right? People aren’t persuaded by someone who bullies them.
There are two other types of liking that I’d like to cover:
- People Liking Brand Name Items (this post)
- People Liking Consumables (future post)
These also deal with persuasion, and in different ways. Today we’ll discuss…
People Liking Brand Names
We all have our favorite brand of clothing, or our favorite beverage, or our favorite sports team.
Some of us even try to get jobs with the team….
Chances are, that brand doesn’t know you exist. (The T-Wolves passed on my audition, by the way).
And even though those brands don’t know you exist, we capitalist humans promote that brand. You and I shout their names from the rooftops. We display their logo on our clothes, convinced it elevates our status (it does). You imagine people being quite impressed by your excellent choices (I am!)
You make that brand name a part of your identity.
We all do this.
And once something is a part of our identity, we have a hard time changing our minds. We want to remain consistent and appear as if we’ve known the right answer all along.
If only they’d listen to reason they’d understand why I’m right!
Confirmation bias assures that we’ll continue to find evidence to support our choice. We’re not immune to messages that reinforce our ideas, and marketing messages are weighed as equally valid by our lazy brains.
Read that again: our brains consider marketing messages to be valid confirmation of our beliefs. If we hear that message enough, it’ll appeal to our identity and our pocketbooks.
Meanwhile, cognitive dissonance will discard any information that works against our theory.
The most a brand can “like” us back is by giving us a discount, maybe some sort of freebie. Buy one, get one half off.
If they’re a good brand, they’ll take care of customer complaints and their supply chain. Maybe they’re great stewards toward the earth and their community.
But the brand isn’t giving you, the customer, any money.
I’m not saying that brands are bad. Brands sell a product and their customers are generally happy to buy it. The customers find the exchange beneficial, no doubt, even if an outside observer disagrees.
Hey, if those $300 shoes make you happy, buy them! Never feel ashamed to want nice things that make you happy.
Creating goodwill among customers and companies is a different process than making friends with people. We like people and we like brands, but for very different reasons.
We initially like brands because of their individual items or how well something works for us once. But once we voice our social support for a brand, of any sort, we’ll often go to great lengths to continue supporting that brand.
It’s not the marketing, it’s the wise choice… we tell ourselves.
The inertia of our brains making the easy choice is so strong, in fact, that rival brands will spend considerable amounts on advertising. It’s expensive to get someone to switch brands. Companies know you’ll keep using that brand long after the first use. That’s why the first one is often free.
Brands work for people, if only for their ego. We buy brands because we’ve always bought that brand, perhaps we like the status it imparts, and thereafter we’ve decided we like it and will support it. Plus, we’re lazy and we don’t want to burn our limited willpower to make a different decision.
As proof of people sticking with the brand that they’ve built into their identity, I present to you the Chicago Cubs:
To this day, it gives me the warm and fuzzies when a restaurant carries Coke products. I still “like” Coke… even if I never drink it and I think that sugar is killing us!
Can you think of a brand you find yourself supporting over and over again, for no apparent reason? or some absurd reason? Let us know in the comments below!