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



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

Chris Malone, Susan T. Fiske

ISBN: 978-1-118-75827-4 September 2013 Jossey-Bass 208 Pages

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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.

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 fi rst

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

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.”
— (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