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The Human Brand: How We Relate to People, Products, and Companies

ISBN: 978-1-118-61131-9
208 pages
October 2013, Jossey-Bass
The Human Brand: How We Relate to People, Products, and Companies (1118611314) cover image
Why we choose companies and brands in the same way that we unconsciously perceive, judge, and behave toward one another

People everywhere describe their relationships with brands in a deeply personal way—we hate our banks, love our smartphones, and think the cable company is out to get us. What's actually going on in our brains when we make these judgments? Through original research, customer loyalty expert Chris Malone and top social psychologist Susan Fiske discovered that our perceptions arise from spontaneous judgments on warmth and competence, the same two factors that also determine our impressions of people. We see companies and brands the same way we automatically perceive, judge, and behave toward one another. As a result, to achieve sustained success, companies must forge genuine relationships with customers. And as customers, we have a right to expect relational accountability from the companies and brands we support.

  • Applies the social psychology concepts of "warmth" (what intentions others have toward us) and "competence" (how capable they are of carrying out those intentions) to the way we perceive and relate to companies and brands
  • Features in-depth analyses of companies such as Hershey's, Domino's, Lululemon, Zappos, Amazon, Chobani, Sprint, and more
  • Draws from original research, evaluating over 45 companies over the course of 10 separate studies

The Human Brand is essential reading for understanding how and why we make the choices we do, as well as what it takes for companies and brands to earn and keep our loyalty in the digital age.

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Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Back to the Future 1
Why our immediate future so strongly resembles our distant past

1 Warmth and Competence 19
The two timeless judgments that drive our behavior toward others

2 The Loyalty Test 39
Why we expect companies and brands to commit to us first

3 The Principle of Worthy Intentions 61
The simple and reliable way to demonstrate warmth and competence

4 The Price of Progress 85
How faceless commerce leads to a focus on discounts

5 Take Us to Your Leader 105
What we learn from the people behind the things we buy

6 Show Your True Colors 127
Why mistakes and crises are a golden loyalty opportunity

7 The Relationship Renaissance 151
Navigating the road ahead

Notes 169

About the Authors 185

Index 187

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Chris Malone is founder and managing partner of Fidelum Partners, a research-based consulting and professional services firm that helps clients achieve sustained business growth and performance. He was chief marketing officer at Choice Hotels International and senior vice president of marketing at ARAMARK Corporation, and has held senior marketing and sales positions at Coca-Cola Company, the National Basketball Association, and Procter & Gamble. He lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife and three sons.

Susan T. Fiske is Eugene Higgins Professor, Psychology and Public Affairs, at Princeton University. She investigates social cognition—especially groups' images and the emotions they create—at cultural, interpersonal, and neuroscientific levels. She is author of over three hundred publications and winner of numerous scientific awards, including election to the National Academy of Science. She and her husband divide their time between Princeton and Vermont.

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Winner, Business: Motivational, 2014 International Book Awards
Silver Medal Winner, Networking, 2014 Axiom Business Book Awards


“Spotlights what it takes for companies and brands to earn and keep customer loyalty in the digital age.”
—Entrepreneur.com (selected as a “Best Business Book to Get Cozy With This Fall”)

“This insightful book explains in simple terms why trust is at the heart of every healthy relationship—not just between people, but between companies and their customers. The Human Brand will cause you to completely rethink your current approach to customer relationships, and that’s a good thing.”
—Tom Long, chief executive officer, MillerCoors

 “The Human Brand is a brilliant synthesis of psychological science and marketing wisdom. Engaging, insightful, and deeply original, this is an essential book for every business reader.”
—Daniel Gilbert, author, Stumbling on Happiness, and Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

 “The Human Brand is a must-read for those who want a truly evolved understanding of how to earn loyalty and create lasting relationships with customers. It's a timely look at how modern corporations hold onto customers—and how we drive them away.”
—Beth Comstock, chief marketing officer, General Electric

“Chris Malone has a unique talent for uncovering customer insights that challenge conventional wisdom and uncover new growth opportunities. In The Human Brand, he and Susan Fiskeoffer a new way to understand brands, deliver more memorable customer experiences, and drive profitable growth.”    
—Ravi Saligram, president and chief executive officer, OfficeMax, Inc.

“Susan Fiske’s renowned work on warmth and competence explains how we unconsciously judge people and companies. The Human Brand is a must-read for anyone with an interest in why we make the choices we do.”
—Jennifer Aaker, coauthor, The Dragonfly Effect, and professor, Stanford University Graduate School of Business

 “The Human Brand offers truly ground-breaking insights on the psychology of customer choice and loyalty, challenging us to rethink what really matters to our customers and what it takes to build strong and authentic relationships with them.”
—Ann Muhkerjee, chief marketing officer, Frito-Lay North America

 “Today’s technology makes it appear as if marketing has become more complex. In fact, it hasn’t – especially for those brands who think and act like ‘the shop on the corner.’ People’s connection to what they buy, and who they buy it from, is what’s important. That’s been the same for generations. The challenge is in making large brands appear ‘small.’ The Human Brand cuts through the complexities of ‘marketing local’ in the digital age to tell the simple truth: connections are key.”
—Patrick Doyle, president and chief executive officer, Domino’s Pizza, Inc.

“How do we earn the lasting loyalty of others? Chris and Susan provide fundamental, yet powerful, insights into building relationships that matter. They challenge us to ‘come out from behind the curtain’ and lead with courage, conviction and heart. Never before has the humanization of brands and leadership been so vital to success.”
—Jay Gould, president and chief executive officer, American Standard Brands

 “By re-focusing us on the primal foundations of survival, The Human Brand takes a major, comprehensive step towards understanding the real drivers of commercial success. If you care about what ignites, engages and sustains deep, strong relationships with your brand and company, read this book.”
—Susan Fournier, coauthor, Consumer-Brand Relationships, and professor, Boston University School of Management

 “In all the noise and all the confusion, these insights on what really matters for corporations to maintain true customer loyalty make The Human Brand invaluable.”
—John Williams, president and chief executive officer, Domtar Corporation

 “The insights detailed in The Human Brand have completely reshaped our thinking and approach to building lasting alumni relationships and financial support.  Our resurgent alumni results in both areas are a testament to the timely and timeless value of warmth, competence and worthy intentions.”
—Daniel J. Curran, president, University of Dayton

“Malone and Fiske offer compelling new evidence on the dangers of excess focus on short-term shareholder value.  Their anecdote-rich book is helpful for any business concerned with how to retain customer loyalty and trust in these complex times.”  
—Noreena Hertz, author, The Silent Takeover and Eyes Wide Open, and professor, Duisenberg School of Finance

 “The important insights in The Human Brand help explain why B Corporations are able to attract the best talent and the most evangelical customers, and why they deliver lasting benefits to our society and to shareholders.”
—Jay Coen Gilbert, cofounder, B Lab

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October 08, 2013
The Human Brand: How We Relate to People, Products and Companies

“This insightful book explains in simple terms why trust is at the heart of every healthy relationship – not just between people, but between companies and their customers.  THE HUMAN BRAND will cause you to completely rethink your current approach to customer relationships, and that’s a good thing.”

--Tom Long, CEO, MillerCoors

 

 

THE SURPRISING PSYCHOLOGY OF CUSTOMER CHOICE AND LOYALTY

New Book Offers Unconventional Insights On How We Perceive, Judge And

Behave Toward Companies And Brands 

People everywhere describe their relationships with brands of all kinds in deeply personal ways – they hate their bank, love their smartphone, and think the cable company is out to get them. 

Humans make two types of judgment calls rather quickly and accurately:  What are the intentions of other people toward me?, and, How capable are they of carrying out those intentions?  In the academic world of social psychology, these two areas of social perception are known as warmth and competence -- they drive most human emotions and behavior toward other people.

Through their original research, Chris Malone, Managing Partner of Fidelum Partners, and Susan T. Fiske, Ph.D., a renowned social psychologist at Princeton University, have discovered that customers choose companies and brands in the same way that they naturally perceive, judge, and behave toward one another – on the basis of their warmth and competence.

In their new book THE HUMAN BRAND:  How We Relate to People, Products and Companies (Jossey-Bass / October 2013), Malone and Fiske, explain why upstarts such as Honest Tea, Domino’s, Lululemon, Zappos, and Chobani have surged in popularity while many traditionally dominant companies and brands have been flagging.

Drawing on decades of experience, as well as proprietary research that studied over 5,000 adults in the United States and over 45 leading brands, including icons such as McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Tropicana, Hershey’s, and Mercedes, Malone and Fiske have created an essential book for every business reader.

In THE HUMAN BRAND, Malone and Fiske offer ground breaking insights into the psychology of customer choice and loyalty, including:

  • Why our immediate future so strongly resembles our distant past
  • Why we expect companies and brands to commit to us first
  • The simple and reliable way to demonstrate warmth and competence
  • How faceless commerce leads to a focus on discounts
  • What we learn from the people behind the things we buy
  • Why mistakes and crises are a golden loyalty opportunity

And they offer three fundamental imperatives for action:

  • Become More Self-Aware of Warmth & Competence Perceptions
  • Embrace Significant Change in Business Practices
  • Fundamentally Shift Priorities to Balance the Interests of Multiple Stakeholders

“Our research also documents how the big banks, oil companies, and telecom firms have all developed policies and practices that are fundamentally at odds with the spontaneous triggers of human trust and loyalty,” write Malone and Fiske.  “The internet, social networks, and mobile communications all have worked together to undermine previously powerful forces in the economy.  We contend that a new Relationship Renaissance between customer and company is emerging out of the Middle Ages of Marketing.  Customers now have near-instantaneous power to hold companies and brands accountable for their words and actions.  That power will continue to grow in the years ahead.”

THE HUMAN BRAND details how market leading companies and brands are putting the best interests of customers ahead of their own to forge genuine, lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with them.  It is an essential must-read for those who want a truly evolved understanding of how to earn loyalty and create lasting relationships with customers.

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