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Some of today’s brands seem to know us better than we know ourselves: learning our preferences, making recommendations and predicting our behaviour. Are we comfortable with this intrusion into our personal life? Or is it beginning to feel a bit stalkerish?
These are the kinds of questions we explored at our most recent Brand New Thinking event, with help from our friends at Monzo, WWF-UK, StyleSocial and Jazz FM.
The discussion on the night suggested most people are comfortable with brands not only handling their personal data, but using it to make recommendations – provided they are transparent about what they’re up to and we get to set the limits on the relationship.
Our discussion was anchored in the work of Dr Robert Cialdini who developed Six Principles of Influence which he identified from interviewing everyone from used car salesmen and door-to-door fundraisers to Hare Krishna devotees. These six principles – scarcity, reciprocity, consistency, consensus, authority and likeness – were our starting point for how brands could form relationships.
Whilst the speakers introducing the topics came from a broad range of backgrounds (from global charities to challenger banks), there was a strong overlap in the themes that emerged. In particular, the non-negotiable role of trust in underpinning our relationships with brands was referenced by every speaker. More divergence occurred when it came to topics such as personalisation: whereas this makes sense for a up and coming start-up, established brands often build stronger relationships by telling a clear and consistent story.
“I think what was really fascinating was how trust actually came up in every group. It felt like it was a really interlinking idea – particularly at the moment when we recognise we’re living in turbulent times – who do we trust anymore? and how do brands operate in that space?”
– Georgie Bridge, WWF-UK
Having had a chance to digest the initial speeches, our audience got involved and broke out into smaller groups to discuss the principle that most aligned with them. Perhaps the most revealing insight of the evening was how few participants chose the “consensus” principle, yet every group made reference to the concept of community and the idea that we congregate around brands.
If we were to offer an answer to “What kind of relationship do people want with brands?” based on our discussion, the answer would be rooted in community. Whether brands provide a platform (such as social media and e-commerce sites like Etsy and StyleSocial) or create a cultural focal point around which communities congregate (from Harley Davidson to Yeezy) there is a powerful role for brands to play in building, enabling and connecting people.
“I gained some really interesting perspectives on how other brands build relationships with their customers, and also some really honest insights into how people perceive the Monzo brand”
– Naji Esiri, Monzo