A new lens on how to appeal to your best customers
Are you exciting or sincere? I know, you want to be both. It’s better to cultivate one when it comes to your brand, though. At least that’s what seems to work with the people most likely to become your biggest fans.
Remember my post on brand attachment? Quick review: some of us are more influenced by brands than others thanks to an “anxious” attachment, or relationship, style formed in infancy.
Of course you want to court this set of people. They are potentially your most enthusiastic, loyal customers, your brand ambassadors. But what kind of brand personality are these anxiously attached people into, exactly?
The answer, apparently, is either a) “exciting” if the person is wary of other people (“high-avoidance”), or b) “sincere” if the person seeks out others (“low-avoidance”), according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Anxious types with a high-avoidance relationship style are independent. They value self-reliance, self-assertion, and autonomy. All of which is expressed by an “exciting” brand personality: one that communicates vitality, independence, and uniqueness. Think Mountain Hardwear.
Anxious types with a low-avoidance style are more inclined to pursue connection and intimate relationships. They’re drawn to a “sincere,” down-to-earth brand personality: one that communicates honesty, nurturance, warmth, family orientation, traditionalism. Think L.L. Bean.
This either/or classification might seem simplistic, but the researchers, from the Katz Graduate School of Business (Univ. of Pittsburgh) and the Carlson School of Management (Univ. of Minnesota), say that “exciting” and “sincere” pretty much capture most of the dimensions of brand personality.
In my recent post I talked about the ability of a brand to hold supposedly opposite personality attributes, but this indicates that you can’t mix and match attributes willy-nilly. Pairing “exciting” with “sincere” could backfire.
• Can this dichotomy be carried through to other attributes? For example, are there parallels with what is seen as conventional and what is rebellious? How far can Harley-Davidson push itself into the mainstream before its brand becomes muddled and lost?
• What percentage of your consumer base might be defined as anxious? To what degree should they be considered?
• What other third-rail dichotomies exist?