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

Social psychologists have determined that primitive humans, in their struggle for existence, developed the ability to judge other people almost instantly along two categories of perception, which are known as warmth and competence. In fact, all humans have a primal, unconscious ability to make these two crucial judgments with a high degree of speed and accuracy: What are the intentions of this person toward me? And how capable are they of carrying out those intentions? […]

We apply these warmth and competence judgments in all our relationships, including those involving commercial transactions. Companies and brands have the same capacity to stir up these hard-wired primal passions as people do, and we engage with them on the same basis. We experience feelings of affection and admiration for companies and brands that treat us well, and we feel insult or even rage when we believe that one of those companies has given us poor service or cheated us. […]

Unfortunately, our studies show that most companies and brands fall well short of customer expectations on both warmth and competence. They are seen as selfish, greedy, and concerned only with their own immediate gain. The constant pressure for faster and larger profits raises the question of whether most of them can ever meet the standards for trust that we all unconsciously expect from everyone we interact with.

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