The Humane Society, Tropicana, and Campbell’s — there are some of the brands that Americans consider both warm and competent.
Porsche, Rolex, and Mercedes, by contrast, are cold and competent.
VA Hospitals, USPS, and Amtrak are warm and incompetent.
BP, Goldman Sachs, and Marlboro are cold and incompetent.
These are findings from a series of studies back in 2010 — 2013 by Fidelum Partner’s Chris Malone and Princeton University social psychologist Susan Fiske. Presented in the book “The Human Brand,” the studies were based on the idea that people make all kinds of decisions based on intuitive perception of warmth and competence. Sure enough, brand perception strongly predicted purchase and loyalty behaviour.
Here’s where all brands scored:
Brands can improve their placement only if they take brand perception seriously.
As Malone and Fiske write: “We first must overcome our natural inability to fully appreciate how we come across to others, by soliciting honest feedback from them. Second, we must embrace that feedback and significantly change our words and actions, just as surely as Dan Hesse did at Sprint and Patrick Doyle did at Domino’s. And finally, we must fundamentally shift our priorities.”
Malone noted in a call that some brands might have shifted position since the study. Toyota’s reputation has likely recovered from the 2010 recalls and moved more toward competence. BP might have improved a little as memory of the Gulf Oil Spill fades.
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