Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Can You Ever Really Trust a Brand?

Uber scandal

The tech world is reeling from the Uber scandal and new, damning revelations about Amazon

These scandals have me in a bit of an existential crisis as a marketer. A marketer's job is to communicate and build trust in a brand in order to attract paying customers. We are brand builders and brand ambassadors.

But what is a brand, really? 

Is a brand more like a company or like a person?

Is it a product or is it a feeling? 

Does brand loyalty mean you're loyal to the people running the company, or loyal to the product or service they provide?

Let's look at Amazon, for example.

As a consumer, I love Amazon. I buy from Amazon on a regular basis, I have the Amazon rewards VISA card, and my parents sell books on Amazon as a side business. 

As a business professional, I admire Amazon. It defined e-commerce as we know it, helped hundreds of thousands of small businesses bypass retail to sell direct to consumer, and pioneered innovations in recommendation algorithms.

But as a decent human being, I don't know how to feel about Amazon anymore. 

If I think of a brand as a person, I'm going to project human emotions onto the actions of the company or its leaders; as a result, I'll react to bad behavior as if I were betrayed.

But if I think of a brand as the-faceless-entity-that-delivers-product-X, and I am very pleased with product X, I'm not going to change my buying habits.

Contrary to Citizens United, I believe that corporations are NOT people, so I shouldn't anthropomorphize my relationship with companies. So by that logic, I should continue riding in Ubers and ordering from Amazon.

Then what's that icky feeling inside?

I'm really curious how people feel about this. What breaks your brand loyalty? Feel free to comment below.

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