Chris Malone is on a mission to rehabilitate brands. As founder of Fidelum Partners, his aim is to help brands think and behave in “human” ways.
Because brands that make emotional connections forge massive, loyal followings of fanatical customers, and often ascend to cult status.
Age of Marketing Enlightenment: The Relationship Renaissance
If you’re an enlightened marketer like Chris Malone, you believe the world has left the Middle Ages of Marketing and is now in the midst of a Relationship Renaissance. The pervasiveness of the Internet, social and mobile media has removed the barriers that once prevented ongoing social interaction between people and brands.
As it turns out, we’ve been hard-wired through evolution to instantly and accurately assess the intentions of others – including brands – towards us by judging two social factors: Warmth and competence. Two factors that consumer research reveals has a huge impact on consumer purchase intent, loyalty and advocacy. And two factors that most brands and companies completely ignore in their communication or interaction with consumers.
Brands that still buy into the illusion that advertising and other inhuman forms of mass communication can build meaningful customer relationships and loyalty will fail. Brands that behave in ways that demonstrate warmth and competence – like Lululemon, Zappos and Chobani – will win the affinity and allegiance of consumers, and an unbeatable competitive advantage.
Brands that behave in ways that demonstrate warmth and competence will win the affinity and allegiance of consumers, and an unbeatable competitive advantage.
The Human Brand: A Must-Read for Any Brand Leader
Chris’ new book, The Human Brand, is a true gem. If you are in any way responsible for shaping the way a brand is experienced by consumers at any given touch point, stop what you are doing and read this book now. You owe it to yourself, to the brand you so carefully steward, and, most of all, to the consumers you serve, to understand and adopt the principles Chris and co-author Susan T. Fiske so articulately outline in The Human Brand.
Exposing the Fallacy of Loyalty Programs
My absolute favourite chapter is The Loyalty Test. Here, Chris describes why incentives, rewards and discounts do not inspire true loyalty but rather, simply erode their brand affinity and profitability.
Brands like Trader Joe’s, who have extremely high customer allegiance and no loyalty programs, have learned that you simply can’t buy long-term relationships through short-term discounts, rebates and rewards. As the book explains, winning brands – cult brands – know that people are loyal to people, not companies, and demonstrating “worthy intentions” towards customers earns their trust and prompts vocal advocacy in the total absence of any incentive.
Brands with extremely high customer allegiance and no loyalty programs have learned that you simply can’t buy long-term relationships through short-term discounts, rebates and rewards.
Why I Love The Human Brand
First, The Human Brand is based on one of the six elements Cult outlined in our report, Anatomy of a Cult Brand: Be Relatable. That element describes how the world’s most successful and cult-like brands have – quite literally – found ways to personify human attributes. And now, Chris Malone and Susan Fiske have written the book on it.
Second, as much as I like marketing kumbaya, I absolutely love seeing scientific evidence and data that support marketing principles. The entire premise of The Human Brand is rooted in the fundamental psychology of human behaviour. (In fact, Susan Fiske is Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology at Princeton University with a Ph.D. from Harvard.) In reading The Human Brand, you immediately sense that it’s not just a bunch of conjecture with anecdotal examples attempting to affirm some metaphorically-wrapped marketing hypothesis. Instead, ideas are presented as indisputable fact. Research studies are cited and professors quoted throughout. And the text is overflowing with real-world examples from cult brands that are applying The Human Brand principles and winning.
Chris Malone Comes to The Gathering
This February, cult brands and marketing leaders from across North America are coming together in Banff for The Gathering. Brands like Harley-Davidson, NHL, Madden (EA Sports), Saskatchewan Roughriders, Red Bull, GoPro, and Las Vegas will meet to honour each other’s achievements, and to share their secret sauce with attendees. They’ve also invited Chris Malone to share insights on how brands can successfully apply The Human Brand concepts to earn the irrational loyalty of their devoted customers.
That’s why you – the ambitious and courageous marketer, brand leader or entrepreneur – need to be one of only 200 people at The Gathering in Banff on February 20. 2014. Don’t wait. Register now.