We Love Brands When They Are Like Our Mother

Lee Ziebarth

January 24, 2015

Remember kaleidoscopes? I think I had one once… or maybe my cousin did… or maybe I just played with one in the toy chest in kindergarten. Whatever my interactions were, they were cool. I loved to watch the shapes and colors randomly change as I moved it around.

Okay, switch gears. Remember your mom’s love? (Or whoever has given you the most enduring love). From as far back as you can remember, your mother has been there for you. As you grow older you may have moments where things aren’t ideal but your love continues to grow for your mom. Unlike the fad the kaleidoscope once was.

Ask yourself this: Has your mother changed? Sure she has, but the changes she makes are like a continually blossoming flower. Because of this, you have always trusted her. You like her, love her, believe her, want to be like her, and you want her to always be a part of your life.

Now, lastly, ask yourself this: Would you feel the same way if her changes over the years were not so much like a blossoming flower but more like a kaleidoscope, changing randomly and dramatically based on outside influences?

If your mother was more unpredictable like a kaleidoscope, she may still be beautiful and valuable to you. But, you would most likely believe her, trust her, and want her to be part of your life much less.

This is what often occurs with brands. When they don’t know who they are, they don’t stand for anything. There is no predictable, reliable story being told because they are constantly changing and shifting in look, feel, messaging, tone, and service based on what they think they need to be in order to boost revenues and gain market share.

And this approach, even if not a conscious business decision, is very transparent to the consumer.

This is why brands such as Home Depot and Johnson & Johnson are rated in the top 10 most trusted brands—because they do not make any random changes; not in their core offering, visual approach, messaging, etc. It’s easy for our consumer minds to like, believe, and want to buy from them. We feel like we know them and they understand us. We begin to trust them, and will always trust them if they continue to enhance our lives with quality service.

However, it is much more difficult to like and be loyal to a brand like Sears because, who is Sears anyway? Are they my dad’s store? Do they know me? Do they care? What do they care about? I frankly don’t know.

The problem with brands that don’t have a core purpose and consistently tell that story is that they are difficult to like and trust. We’re not sure exactly what they’re saying, or ultimately, why they’re saying it. As Simon Sinek said so well: “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.”

These brands are more like the random kaleidoscope than the predictable blooming flower. They might look good and have some value, but their lack of consistency will make them much like a fad, and not an enduring friend.