Monday 20 May 2019 10:18 am

Brands, forget about customer loyalty and trust. Just make stuff that people want to buy

If you're a harassed brand manager, a chief marketing officer with a case of the shakes, or a branding agency strategist for whom visiting Twitter is like playing Russian roulette, here’s the good news: the average person couldn’t care less about your brand.

I mean really, they don’t care.

Don’t interject by stating the name of your brand, especially if you’re going to preface it with “we are…” Don’t splutter with rage. You can feel slightly peeved if you’re a Silicon Valley tech giant, but if you make anything that people rub on themselves or munch at their desk, just don’t even bother raising an eyebrow. People don’t care. So take a breath.

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Obviously, I’m aware that you’re probably being measured on more than just “selling more stuff”. Now you need to engender trust. Create and maintain loyalty. Build a sense of community around your brand, or tap into an existing one.

People do care about trust, loyalty, and community. They just don’t think of brands that way. These are terms for the relationships between people, or groups of people. That’s why you care about them.

But concepts like trust and loyalty cut both ways. The fact that you constantly use people’s data to target them, for example, hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Here’s what you’ve done: found someone you like online, stalked their Instagram, discovered that they like the literature of Jo Nesbo, bought a Jo Nesbo book yourself, located where they hang out, loitered outside, then “accidentally” bumped into them and dropped your fake-dog-eared copy of The Snowman on the ground in front of them. How endearingly clumsy.

Then you’ve asked them for a coffee. “Oh my god, I like bikram yoga, classic Fiats, cold crisp mornings, sausage dogs and Twin Peaks too.” They tentatively agree to meet you again in a non-committal manner.

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So you engineer another accidental meeting and another coffee. You ask them if they trust you. If not, why not?

“Are you loyal? Would you recommend me to your friends? On a scale of one to 10 how likely would you be to do that? I share your values. I know what your values are because I looked at your Facebook and you’ve shared inspirational quotes superimposed on backgrounds replete with beautiful sunrises. I know what my values are because I paid some people a lot of money to tell me what my values should be if I want to share the values of people of your age, gender, preferences and behaviours who have values that can be neatly summed up in an inspirational quote. Don’t run away.”

Freaked out yet? Imagine how your customers must feel.

Just make stuff that people want to buy, and stop tying yourselves in knots trying to make them trust you. Trust me.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.