People easily detect intentions

Fiske has expanded on his years of research into the psychology of discrimination to explain why we love Brand A and hate Brand B, while Malone works with Fortune 500 companies and held senior marketing positions at Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble. . Together they wrote The Human Brand, “How we relate to people, products and companies”.

Green, greener, and greener still seems to be the credo of marketing communications today. Not to mention “inclusive”, “transparent” and in general “social”. What is behind all this?

Chris Malon: What we see is something completely human. In the small communities of the past, sellers and buyers had very direct relationships, and if something wasn’t right, the community got involved. During and after the Industrial Revolution, face-to-face contact rapidly declined and more and more middlemen became involved. With that, responsibility and obligation disappeared from sight.

The digital revolution is underway and boom, responsibility is back, and not just a little bit.

-So, this is an answer to that?

Malone: Aside from widespread concern about the future of humanity, the answer is yes. I worked at Coca-Cola for a long time in brand positioning and trust was not an issue at all. We barely think about it. Now it is the main criterion. You can even distinguish yourself by being more honest than the rest.

And the consumer appreciates it…

Susan Fisher: That is a precarious matter. Simply put, anyone can do something stupid, make a mistake. This has no direct important consequences for the degree to which you score on trustworthiness. But if you try to fool people, you show who you really are, what you are capable of. That sticks.

-And, as you argue in The Human Brand, that applies to people as well as companies and brands.

Fisher: When your partner cheats on you, you will feel seriously shocked and hurt. We don’t want that, so we almost automatically keep an eye on whether the other person can be trusted. The same radar is used when it comes to markings. People are highly attuned intention detectors, and that can have important consequences. As a brand you have to take this into account and that’s what we see happening more and more now.

-From the perspective of the advertising agency, how do you communicate a higher purpose in the best possible way?

Fisher: There are some clear considerations to make. Call it rules. People are much less loyal to companies and brands these days and much more interested in the intentions behind them. Intentions predict behavior. Live up to them. And, rule of thumb, there is nothing that communicates worthwhile intentions as powerfully as selflessness.

Malone: You also have to realize that no one is expecting publicity, but people love to communicate. This is the time of human dialogue. It is not an exact science. If you take into account the similarities between people and brands, you will go a long way. And a bonus tip, as a brand, don’t be afraid to make a joke about yourself. Works.

Fisher: Interesting research result, in fact, you can incorporate a good cause that fits your brand, in your marketing communication, even if that specific objective does not play an important role in the life of your target group. Good intention itself can already be very valuable.

-What would you like to add to this?

Fisher: By nature, the scientific community is somewhat suspicious of the business world. And making a profit can be, in many cases, more important than altruistic motives. Still, most of us like to do the right thing. This is becoming more and more important and I think it’s a big step forward.

Malone: The key question is also, of course, does the higher purpose tendency contribute anything substantial? I would have to say yes. Whether it will save the planet remains to be seen, but if you want a simple guideline, as a brand, behave like an honorable human being. You can make a lasting difference in people’s lives and it’s worth it.

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