One thing is truly apparent in consumer behavior these days: people like brand name stuff. Whether it be Apple for electronics, Nike for clothing, Microsoft Xbox for gaming, or Sony Bravia for televisions, brands have always been a part of our lives. In theory, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Unfortunately, it has grown into something far more serious, especially with younger generations. And people are getting hurt in the process.
But first, why do people like brands?
Many would argue that it gives people a real sense of security: it gives them the assumption that the next experience will be just as good, if not better, than the previous experience. It gives them a group to rely on that will provide consistent quality and service. Finally, it is familiar — people love familiar things. New things can be somewhat intimidating to people.
Make no doubt about it: this article isn’t meant to poke fun at individual brands. Brands are only bad when the businesses who create them also have monopolies in their respective industries. Otherwise, brands are great!
However, there is something that isn’t so great about brands. That thing would be brand loyalty, and this has less to do with the brand itself and more to do with the people who interact with the products and services offered by those brands.
Some people — perhaps some of you — manage to take this brand loyalty to the next level. These people become devout brand followers. Some believe that the brands they associate themselves with are superior than other brands. These people stand with these brands and defend them almost religiously. A person can become part of the brand, and an attack on the brand somehow becomes an attack on that specific individual.
As a result, discussions and criticisms about these brands become difficult. As a matter of fact, it can create very high tensions for people within certain industries.
Have you ever visited a gaming forum where multiple gaming consoles are represented? If someone mention one bad thing about a specific game console, that person has essentially started World War III. The person who said that “Xbox sucks” has somehow attacked every single Xbox gamer on this forum. Expectedly, every Xbox gamer will be quick to come to the brand’s defense.
The same would apply to Apple. If we were to create an article claiming that “Apple sucks,” every single technology enthusiast, especially those on the cutting edge, would come here and bash our brains out. We would receive hateful comments, threats, and who knows what else. It is a sad truth. Even though we might have said absolutely nothing about the person that took offense, they did anyways.
Again, the brands somehow become the people themselves and vice versa. This is where constructive criticism and feedback ends and unjustified bias/dislike begins.
There is a disturbing trend appearing where brand loyalty becomes so engrained into person that this person is unwilling to try other products or services because they feel like it simply isn’t them. It doesn’t represent their values.
We won’t call out any specific groups that exemplify this behavior, but it should be fairly obvious.
However, it is dangerous for future innovation.
Still, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can become more open minded about the things we are willing to try. We can attempt to accept other products for what they are and look at the things they help us accomplish instead of the things they do to undermine our favorite brands. Most importantly, we can realize that competition is a good thing for all industries, because the earlier consumer behaviors are the ones that helps create monopolies in the first place.
Now most of you reading this article understand this; however, most of you also believe that you are not part of this behavior. But the simple fact is that we all have products we love, we all have products we defend, and we all have companies we lean towards. Yours truly is no different.
But if we can become accepting of brands without becoming so forcibly attached to them, constructive criticism and analysis may take place while companies could then better serve consumers’ problems. Better products will emerge from this. And the world, as a whole, would be a better place to be in. Granted, this is utopian thinking, and is never likely to occur. However, we can still do our own little part to make the world a better place.
In closing, please understand that a brand is a brand and a person is a person. Do not intertwine these two very different things. If this is accomplished, great conversations about these brands can take place.
Until then, brand warfare — with the users of those brands being the ones who regularly join the front lines — continues.