At least, that’s what marketers want you to think. Some of the most successful brands of all time win consumer trust and affection by seeming human. Academics call it anthropomorphism, which is a really horrible word to describe a phenomenon that leads consumers to perceive human qualities and characteristics in inhuman things.
In this all-new episode of THE POINT OF ATTACHMENT, we explore new insights and research on anthropomorphism. We start in conversation with Professors Ann McGill and Maferima (Rima) Touré-Tillery, who recently co-authored a study that was published in the Journal of Marketing. It explored whether anthropomorphic brands were more persuasive than non-anthropomorphic brands.
In late 2012 researchers published a study in the journal Nature that asserted breast cancer was not a single disease, but rather an umbrella for ten genetically distinct diseases. This finding was significant because it revealed the need for nuances in treatment. One genetic type of the disease will respond to a protocol in a very different way than another. By understanding the fundamental differences, scientists have a richer understanding of how to treat each variant, to save more lives, and to reduce the trial-and-error approach that leads many women and men to suffer agonizing paths to wellness.
Marketers would do well to learn from this breakthrough in the science lab. In the same way “breast cancer” is not homogenous, “brand” is a blanket term that encapsulates increasingly diverse subtypes. Yet, managers and consultants generally approach brand development and management uniformly. Survey the landscape of branding and marketing agencies and you will find some differences in the semantic language used to express essentially the same framework for brand strategy: a positioning or promise statement, followed by an articulation of values (or pillars that define differentiating behaviors) and some collection of descriptive attributes that are variously referred to as “personality,” “voice,” and/or “DNA.”
Today, we unveiled the third installment of the Brand Dependence™ Index, our periodic ranking of brands in a category based on strength of brand attachment. Studio Chief Larry Vincent presented our findings during a keynote session at ThinkLA’s Motor City West event at the Los Angeles Auto Show. This is the third study in our series of Brand Dependence investigations. Working again with our partners at uSamp, we surveyed over 4,500 US consumers, focusing our attention on 23 leading maker brands in the sedan segment.
Which social media brands do US consumers feel they can’t live without? That was the question we explored in Brand Studio’s latest wave of Brand Dependence research. Partnering once again with our friends at uSamp, we surveyed 2,006 US adults 18+ and had them evaluate 15 popular social media brands using the Brand Dependence methodology. Brand Dependence measures how strong of a connection people have to a brand (brand-self connection) as well as how easy their thoughts and feelings about a brand come to mind (prominence). The combined metrics result in a Brand Dependence score that ranges from 0 to 100.
Facebook (43), Instagram (42), YouTube (39), Pinterest (38) and reddit (38) had the strongest scores overall. However, the scores shifted a great deal when filtered by gender, age and household income. For example, men scored Snapchat, reddit and vine significantly higher than women, whereas women scored Facebook and Pinterest much higher than men.
In January, UTA Brand Studio launched the Brand Dependence™ Index (BDI), with new brands and categories being added to the study each quarter.
Developed in an exclusive partnership with uSamp, Brand Dependence™ is a quantitative research methodology built upon pioneering academic work on brand attachment by Deborah MacInnis and C. Whan Park, at the USC Marshall School of Business.
Along with colleagues at other academic institutions around the world, Deborah MacInnis and C. Whan Park, both professors at USC’s Marshall School of Business, are the creators of the pioneering quantitative research methodology used in UTA Brand Studio’s Brand Dependence research.
Traditional brand equity metrics include awareness, familiarity, favorability, and credibility. Brand Dependence™ actually considers how people see brands as relating to themselves—being part of their own identity, sharing their values and beliefs. When coupled to traditional metrics, BDI provides powerful insights on how to make a brand indispensable to consumers, employees and investors.
Inaugural BDI Findings
Laurence Vincent, UTA Brand Studio founder and executive director, unveiled the inaugural BDI during a presentation entitled “The Story of Attachment” at the recent International CES in Las Vegas, as reported by re/code. This index focused on technology and consumer electronics and revealed that Microsoft and Samsung topped the list of technology brands that consumers relate more to themselves and say they “can’t live without.”
As we do every week, Brand Studio staffers exchanged notes via sophisticated cryptographic devices and prepared this summary of interesting branding-related stories from the past week. What’s different this week is that we decided to focus on some great research-related discoveries.