HomeOpinion & AnalysisBrands as relationship partners

Brands as relationship partners

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LIKE real human relationships, brands can provide a means to solve personal issues by becoming relationship partners.

Some of the interesting relationships that brands can form with a consumer among others are:

  • Close friendship
    This relates to friendship whose bond comes from sharing the same sense of reward. It is a sense of together we can do it feeling. For me this has to be my notebook because writing is one of my favourite past time. For a golfer it would have to be their clubs and a motor racer their car.
  • Courtship
    This is a testing period before commitment. This is when a consumer tries to brands that would give more or less the same benefited before deciding to commit to one. An example would be a consumer trying the Estee Lauder range of skincare and then also trying the Clinique range and then eventually choosing one of the two to use permanently. Female consumers will agree with me that have gone through this before.
  • Childhood friendship
    In this case, it is a brand that evokes childhood memories. Coca Cola must be the brand that takes me back to my childhood.
    It was and still is my mother’s favourite drink although she says it has become watery over the years. I remember drinking it from the same bottle with my sister.
    She would use her finger to mark the half way mark, but as she drank her share she would move her finger down resulting in the drink going down significantly before it was my turn to drink.
    Needless to say I would scream the house down leading to my father giving me my own full bottle of coke while my sister got what she deserved — a hiding! We still laugh about this today and about the brand that has been with us since our childhood.
  • The secret affair
    This is a risky relationship that is best kept a secret. In branding, this is when a consumer indulges themselves by buying expensive perfume, clothes or shoes but dares not reveal the cost to one that may be affected by the decision for example their partner or spouse.
  • Dependency relationship
    This relates to an obsessive attraction. Without the person concerned the other would think that they would possibly die. In brands, this is when a consumer cannot drink any other beverage if their beverage of choice is unavailable, normally leading to the discomfort of those around him who may be forced to move to another place where they can find that drink.
  • Adversarial relationship
    When a person will has nothing to do whatsoever with another person. In branding this is when one will not buy or use a brand whatever the case may be even if it means saving a few dollars. They dislike the brand completely.
  • Enslavement
    This is an involuntary forced relationship. This reminds me of our country in 2008. Consumers didn’t have the luxury of choice. People bought whatever they could find on the shelves in the stores as there was no choice.
  • Casual friendship
    This is a relationship of few expectations and infrequent interactions. In branding this is when a consumer switches from their preferred brand temporarily because of finances for example. An example would be when a consumer who normally buys basmati rice buys ordinary rice because they ran out before the pantry’s restocks time.
  • Marriage of convenience
    This is a chance encounter that may then lead to a long term bond. In branding this may be a case where a consumer uses a supermarket simply because it is on their way home and not necessarily because it is their supermarket of choice.
  • Other relationships that are also found in branding that I will explain next week are the committed partnership, the arranged marriage, the compartmentalised friendship, the rebound relationship and the fling. I will also attempt to explain how a relationship with a brand should work, hopefully the marketers out there will be motivated to build good relationships for their brands.


Till next week, keep reading the red brand and remain Brand Savvy.

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