“In pre-internet days, the buyer’s process was fairly straightforward: stimulus, shelf, experience. A stimulus sparked a buyer’s interest in a product, they went to the store or called a salesperson to buy it, and then they experienced the product. There were very few places where a brand could intersect with the buyer: an advertisement, which may have been the stimulus; the packaging and display, which spurred the purchase; and, possibly, after the sale in customer service – though if it came to that, it was inevitably because something had gone wrong.
Today’s purchasing journey, whether for a consumer product or complex business purchase, has infinitely more touch-points where a brand and buyer might intersect.”
The more interesting thing here is that – while brands used to be the “property” of the brand owner (product / service) since the beginning of the concept of brand, it is no longer so. Now the brand belongs to the person who uses it, recommends it, advocates for it or slams it openly. Therefore, while the brand custodian has changed in the post internet period, the brand association has certainly increased, with those who use or refuse them.
When a customer talks passionately about a brand whether loving or thrashing it – there is a sense of ownership involved. And that ownership is something which the brand should leverage on. And perhaps, that is what brand friendship is all about.
Ultimately, if the brand and me are not friends, how do I care what happens to it?