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Brand Loyalty – Forcing Us To Pick A Side

Brand Loyalty – Forcing Us To Pick A Side

April 15, 2024

From electronics to food, fashion to transport, we passionately latch onto brands. Sometimes in a way that defies logic and reason. But how do we get around that?

Who do you support?

What does it mean to support something? Not a person but a thing. Let’s take the world of sports, for example. For many supporters, that devotion transcends a passive following. Their team is their team. Tattooed, skin deep. Ride or die. And that supporter may go on to spend a fortune on tickets or merchandise, and even shape their life around the persona of being a loyal fan.

Ok, maybe that’s not that unusual. Afterall, there’s such a strong human presence with sport, so it’s arguably easy to identify with the highs and lows. What about inanimate objects? Say you’re the kind of individual who has been present for the launch of every single Xbox console. No deviation because you bleed green and wherever Microsoft takes Xbox, you’ll be right there with them.

Or what about a drink? What if, for you, Pepsi is life. Every new flavour is a taste sensation and every time a bartender asks, “Is Coke alright?” your face contorts violently and uncontrollably. Because the idea of settling for anything less, sickens you to your core!

“If it’s not made by Acme, it’s not for me!” – Wile E Coyote

You may baulk at these examples – they’re pretty intense. But I can guarantee there’s something you feel this irrationally strongly about. Because as consumers, we develop a deep parasocial affection for brands. Which ultimately escalates to extreme defensiveness and protectiveness. And this projected emotional connection is something we have to navigate when it comes to creating explainer videos.

This is because we’re talking about a change of belief. A shift in perception. And the difference between an opinion and a belief is that the latter is so firmly felt, that even in the face of conflicting evidence, your unique positive experiences can trump logic.

Which admittedly is the result of good marketing. Regardless of whether the product or service in question is reliable or not, you end up feeling that this company gets you. They align with your beliefs and needs; even if they demonstrably don’t. So how do we dislodge this embedded idea?

Arguably, the most obvious way is to invalidate the competition. But this is a knee-jerk response. In the 1990s, Sega very famously launched a campaign stating their video game console “does what Nintendon’t” – actively calling out Nintendo as the inferior product, suitable only for very young children.

My favourite brand can beat up your favourite brand.

By the time the early 2000s rolled around, Apple applied a little more nuance with their “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” ad campaign. Rather than calling out a specific brand, they highlighted the limitations of owning a PC.

But while both were bold strategies, these gambits ultimately created a tribalistic response. In the end, Sega retreated from the console market, electing to solely release games. And various PC companies, such as Intel, took Apple’s ad format and hit back, listing all the ways Macs were inferior to a well-specced PC.

Because remember, this is your team. Just being told someone else can do it better, may not have the desired lasting impact with an ardent supporter. To do that, you need to create an emotional connection.

Brands you love are brands for life. Right?

Now, whether they like to admit it or not, brands aren’t people (although we do our best with brand stories to make them feel human). On their own, they don’t link us to any real emotion. I may love Mercedes but they don’t love me; they very unapologetically love my money. So when moulding a narrative, we have to find the emotion at the heart of the message behind the brand. To capture the essence of the positivity of those who experience a certain product or service on a daily basis.

And unlike an advert, an explainer video allows you to explore the pressure points you may be suffering, the promise of a better experience and exactly how this product/service/platform solves that problem.

Say a bank was launching a new account type, which sees real fiscal benefits for those who like to save money. If we took a leaf out of Sega and Apple’s books, we’d open with an attack on other banks, pointing out how inferior they are. If your bank was mentioned, maybe you’d be openly offended. Maybe your specific bank wasn’t mentioned and you feel this doesn’t apply to you. Or alternatively, despite the flaws, the idea of changing is more hassle than it’s worth.

Indirectly planting the seed of doubt.

Instead, we relate to the audience. By speaking directly to those savers who feel their bank isn’t working hard enough for them, a voice appears in the back of the viewer’s head and whispers, “they’ve got a point.” And as the video continues, the voice grows louder.

This is because the audience already feels known and listened to. The validity of everything that follows is assured because, whoever this company is, they get you. Maybe even in a way that your current choice doesn’t. All without directly invalidating the competition or triggering that tribal response.

In other words, we’re not saying you’re supporting the wrong team, we’re just highlighting that it feels nice when your team wins more trophies and openly gives back to their valued supporters. And from there, the target audience makes the connection themselves and takes the initiative to investigate further.

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