Magazine article Marketing

Economising on Truth Will Cost You Customers

Magazine article Marketing

Economising on Truth Will Cost You Customers

Article excerpt

"If people perceive a thing to be real then we may as well act as if it is real," said the US psychologist and philosopher William James.

We now talk about 'brand personality' and about brands having a 'relationship' with their consumers. The front cover of the book Understanding Brands actually shows a psychiatrist's couch. The implication is that brands are susceptible to psychoanalysis. Going further than interrogating the brand until it confesses its attributes, can we actually find an unconscious; a side of the brand that it tries to repress and doesn't want its users to see?

I think this goes further than marketing communications, which are aimed at correcting a misconception; people think this brand is expensive or this brand is only for certain uses. Here the brand has a side which is hidden to consumers but one which it wishes to reveal. I am looking for a darker side, something which the brand would rather remained hidden.

Let's take taste. I would guess that for most people their first taste of Guinness is not a pleasant experience. Although we may have become accustomed to it, and may now in some instances prefer it, very few low-far spreads really taste like butter. Or health: yoghurts may be low in fat but high in sugar, fruit drinks have been criticised for their cariogenic properties. Cars often show us the open road without congestion or pollution, and alcohol never shows the morning after.

The marketer's natural reaction is to look for the positive in their brand, researching the motivating elements and dramatising those through communications. …

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