All marketers desire trust. Few grasp the source of it. Authentic brand trust is scarce and remains but an aspiration for many. Those who gain trust are the successful beloved brands of commerce such as FedEx, Downy, Tylenol, Purina and Harley Davidson. The shortcut to achieving and maintaining trust relies on the human connection, not simply product qualities.
Attention to human relationships, is basic to judging everything experienced in life. Surprisingly in a primal way, out of our day-to-day awareness, our brains are hardwired to seek, judge and prioritize human relationships. It’s an automatic first instinct. Our neurological facial recognition “software” is massively sophisticated. The brain region that processes faces known as the Fusiform Face Area, is closely associated with emotional attention. As infants we are imprinted to other humans to meet our most basic needs. At life’s end, we spend our golden years connected or alone – which is a direct measures of our happiness.
In Map-of-Choice™ studies we routinely observe that brands are evaluated according to human traits. We’ve also seen that if a brand is devoid of human traits, the brand is just a thing, with very low emotional trust and loyalty!
The Tiger’s Gaze
A study at Cornell University showed that consumers are 16% more likely to trust a brand of cereal, when the character on the box looks them straight in the eye. The feeling of connection to the brand was 28% higher, with increases in likability. This doesn’t mean you should always anthropomorphize your brand with human facial features or characters. But it does reflect that human traits are attractive to emotions and influence trust.
Authentic Trust Banishes Commoditization
Customers aren’t thinking about buying our products most of the time. When it is time to buy, competitors will be touting their product features and benefits. As people hear these messages, a mental “program” is running in the background – a stream of unconscious, emotional signals create a favorable bias for certain brands and against others. This bias overshadows the logic of product features.
To the brain, good product features and benefits are a good thing. They are considered by the rational mind, and do matter. Human story telling, metaphors and emotional traits label the brand a good person because the brain is hardwired to prioritize human traits.
Most products have parity with their competitors on features, yet customers assign large value differences to products and brands. Often, human-like traits are the cause of disparity in value perception. The strongest brand emotions, cross the line from a “good thing,” to “good person” with human traits, stories, and metaphors.
Clevenger Associates reveals the Whole Mind of the consumer.