Brand Blindnes is Brand Loyalty

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

27 April 2017

Brand loyalty and brand blindness

Did you know that brand loyalty is a form of brand blindness? Even though most of us believe we act rationally, self-identification is a form of blindness. It creates a comfortable place that we NEVER examine.

Brand identification is all about YOU

It is easy to look around the commercial world and see powerful examples of brand blindness. Coca-Cola feel victim to this brand blindness when it launched New Coke.

That’s right. The launch of New Coke was a direct result of blind-taste tests. Without the knowledge of the brand they drank, soft-drink enthusiasts preferred the taste of Pepsi to Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola is not a soft drink

Brand BlindnessBut wait a minute. New Coke failed and yet it existed to compete on the palate with Pepsi? That’s my point.

Coke drinkers preferred the brand over the drink. When Coca-Cola repeated the test without hiding the brand name, drinkers preferred Coca-Cola over Pepsi. Taste had nothing to do with preference.

To Coca-Cola loyalists, the brand is personal. Coke is part of their personal identities.

Maybe they believe the brand positioning and hold Coke as “the real thing.” Possibly they believe they are themselves authentic.

The loyalists overwhelmingly approve of his actions as President

Nothing he does, good or bad, matters to the divided.

You can find brand identification everywhere

As a result, the more emotional the choice the greater the brand blindness. Politics is a prime example of brand identification. President Trump knows this. During the campaign, he joked that he could “shoot somebody and not lose any voters.” Not far from the truth. In a national poll by Gallup, 57% of Americans disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president. 86% of Republicans approve of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president. It’s not a surprise that Democrats, demonstrating the same brand blindness as Republicans, disapprove (91%). But 64% of independents disapprove. (Read more about brand affinity here.)

“When building brands we aim for brand blindness. We want adherents to blindly support and prefer the brand. This is NEVER rational. This kind of identification requires an emotional argument.”

Don’t obsess on politics

Brand BlindnessNowhere is blind brand loyalty more evident than in NCAA sports. Ole Miss fans believe the football program is unfairly criticized by the NCAA. NOTHING will change their minds.

But Rebel fans are no different form the fans (read blind loyalists) of any other university team fans.

They are all blind. Why? They have projected their self-esteem and persona on the team itself. Any attack. No matter how deserved, is a personal attack on the adherent.

How crazy is this? Not very. It’s the hallmark of great branding. As a result, create an emotional bond with the target market and they will build brand loyalty that goes well beyond reason.

Kentucky is no different from other universities.

It is a religion. So, call me a blasphemer.

What about Joe Paterno?

So, ask a Penn State fan about Coach Paterno’s culpability in not acting in the best interest of kids with Jerry Sandusky’s molestation crimes. Go ahead. Ask?

Saint Joe cold not do such a thing. Because of an emotional investment in the program, loyal fans feel personaly attacked.

Truth has never stopped anyone from denying facts

Brand BlindnessWe build brands to foster loyalty. So, if you are a University of North Carolina or University of Kentucky fan (oops, I’m on thin ice here (in NC). Why would a fan associate the teams with the university? Certainly, some athletes would make standard admittance standards. But many, if not most, would not.

Here is how you know the truth. Are Carolina fans offended when I say Kentucky? Are Kentucky fans offended when I cite Carolina?  Proves my point.

Truth Is NCAA Division I teams don’t represent the alums

Brand BlindnessMany basketball stars are one-and-done athletes. They play only a single year, rarely attend classes and leave for the NBA after a single college season. Do they represent the REAL university?

The athletes represent the university in the same way a mercenary represents a nation in a war. (Read about NCAA servitude here.) They don’t. And the hired gun’s loyalty is always under scrutiny by officers. In this case COACHES.

Just remember. When you celebrate a National Championship. You are celebrating a brand connection. So, it is all about you (and me).

That’s why we invest in building a brand.


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