I don't love you
It's wholly unreasonable for brands to expect us to love them. I’ve been reading Bob Hoffman’s new book Marketers Are From Mars, Consumers Are From New Jersey. It’s a rant at the ills of the modern advertising business. I highly recommend it.
Hoffman, who writes the snarky AdContrarian blog, calls out the obsession by modern marketers to win affection from consumers.
There's been a move during the last decade for marketing and public relations types to describe the relationship between a consumer and a brand in human terms.
It's plainly bullshit. We will never love products or organisations in the way that we love our parents, partners, children, or close friends.
I blame social media: Facebook with its insidious like, Twitter with its favourite and Google with its +1. It's not an equitable relationship. There’s no unlike or -1 for a kick-off.
We may be loyal to brands but with notable exceptions we don't really like brands and much less love them.
Our shopping trolleys online and offline are packed with hundreds of products. I don't know about you but I struggle to keep one relationship on an even keel let alone hundreds.
But what about Apple, Ben & Jerry’s, Coke, Moulton Brown, Nike, and more?
These are all notable exceptions that break the rules. They are deviations that cannot be used as marketing or public relations case studies for the norm.
If any of these organisations disappeared tomorrow we'd get by with PCs, Pepsi and Adidas without the need for bereavement counselling. I'd find another source of bubble bath or ice-cream (although Ben & Jerry's Phish food is exceptional) without shedding a tear.
Consumers are transactional. Sell me good stuff and you might win my loyalty but I ain't going to love you.
Consumers are fickle. Let me down and you'll lose my trust and I'll take my custom elsewhere.
Consumers are tarts. I own a pair of Adidas, Bowerman and Nike trainers. How does that sit with your brand loyalty analysis?
A brand is an all-encompassing catch all term for everything from a logo, packaging, product, price, and more. It's how you're treated when you call two months later because your shiny new toy has broken.
A brand describes our relationship with an organisation but it is rarely an emotional experience.
We could never love a brand because unlike the best human relationships, our interactions aren’t equitable or two-way.
Conversation has become marketing parlance to describe the interaction between a consumer and a brand. I've yet to find an organisation that truly operates in this way.
The job of marketing and public relations is to help brands form relationships with consumers so they can sell stuff.
Make something that I want to buy and use smart marketing and public relations to tell me about it. Involve me in your story if you like but don’t confuse emotional resonance with an emotional relationship.
If I like what you’re selling I may buy it. I may even become a loyal customer, on my terms. But please don't expect me to love you.