Stand by Your Brand

If anyone has ever been to our offices in Loughborough and popped down to the R & D department, I’ve quite probably tried to engage you in conversation about two very important things in my life…my Samsung Galaxy S3 and my Xbox.

I won’t lie to you, neither of these products that I am prepared to defend to the hilt are faultless.  In fact, any organisation who says that about their products, regardless of what industry they operate in, are very naive.  We should always strive to be better.

My recently purchased Samsung Galaxy S3 is a great phone, but fails to seduce me with its design and tacky rear plastic. And the current Xbox 360 is not without its disadvantages – I only need to mention the term ‘Red Ring of Death’ to see fellow Xbox owners doing a visible shiver.

Yet you will find me having countless (often day long) arguments defending these products, especially regarding the latter…even though deep inside I know that I’m hardly ever being rational.

Last week, after I wasted more time having another pointless ‘discussion’ with one of my colleagues who shall rename nameless, I decided to take the moral high ground.  I stopped to question myself.

I asked – why do I bother backing these products and trying to convince people they are great?

In fact, why do WE bother?  What is it that makes normal people just like us rush to the defence of our favourite phones, consoles or tablet devices?

Thankfully, there are some very clever people out there who must have asked themselves the same question, and had time to find out! (What a job they have!) 

The Journal of Consumer Psychology recently showed the results of a really cool experiment which examined the strength of consumer-brand relationships.  Their goal was to try and find out if a person’s fondness of various brands and products was actually intrinsically linked to their own self esteem.

The survey concluded that if we form a really strong relationship with a certain brand, then we actually respond to negative information about the brand in the same way we might do about ourselves!  

So strong is this brand association, that some people will generally resort to irrational denial and automatically give their favourites the benefit of the doubt.   As my colleagues will certainly attest, I am prone to the odd illogical outburst myself…..(“Yes I know this is the third time the Red Ring of Death has happened, but the Xbox is still the  best thing in the entire universe….”)

It’s no big surprise that almost every big organisation in the world wants to create a massive number of starry-eyed early adopters who consistently evangelise their product, iteration after iteration.  I use the example of consoles a lot but you can easily replace that example with phones, TV’s, cars, etc.

However, the study also states that if a brand fails us too many times, we eventually run out of irrational reasoning and we will give up hope. That’s not all either – when this happens consumers are inclined to shift all the way to the other side (such as Apple to Microsoft – here’s our CEO with a case in point), sometimes interpreting that failure from the brand as a ‘personal betrayal’.

You only have to look at the response from Xbox fans at the announcement of the Xbox One to realise how true this is. So unhappy and betrayed they felt by the product, pre-order numbers for the PS4 rocketed.

Maybe a few years ago brands would have gotten away with it, but not in an Internet Age where the collective voice of consumers is so powerful through Twitter, Facebook and forums. 

Let me know if there is a brand you will always be loyal to, or perhaps you have been let down by a recent product release?  Following on from Fiona’s recent post, I’m particularly interested to hear about any iPhone users who downloaded iOS7 as soon as it became available – what are your initial reactions?