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Why Do Consumers 'Love' Brands, Anyway?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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With the Super Bowl right around the corner, the Sochi Winter Olympics following short behind, and the World Cup lurking in the distance, we get to see how people are clinging to or avoiding connecting to certain brands, countries, and teams.

Some are expressing fervor for the Seahawks, others for Peyton Manning and the Broncos. A multitude of sports fans are bummed that Vonn must sit out of these Olympics, not being able to represent America.

And how about the World Cup draw our men's National Team received? Ouch. It has the possibility of being tough to watch.

But those are just the brands participating in these events. Advertisers like Budweiser, Adidas, Nike, Under Armour, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Visa are all looking to garner that victorious connection with consumers.

Our question today is, what makes them connect, anyway?

We want to introduce you to BIRGing and CORFing. 

BIRG: Basking in Reflected Glory

The first, BIRG, is a psychological event when people connect with communities in order to raise their own self-esteem and sense of belonging. The community's success would be considered as their success. If a brand is beloved, then those people would also feel like they are being loved, because they use or actively engage with the brand. For example, wearing a regular dry fit shirt under your clothes while playing football is no big deal. But if you were wearing Under Armour's Heat Gear, you'd feel like you were amongst the ranks of vicious hitters in the SEC and the brotherhood of NFL middle linebackers.

You'd feel like a beast.

This BIRGing, then, explains the seasonal "fair-weather fans." These people pretend they have nothing to do with brands or teams when they are down, but once these brands and teams get the limelight again, these people act like they were the ones to get them back on track.

Fascinating.

CORF: Cutting Out Reflected Failure

It is our human nature to want to feel loved and like we belong. If there is a community where we can find it, we will drift to it. But what if the opposite happens? What if we are associating ourselves with a brand or team, and the bottom falls out? We will, in a sense, cut our losses. For example, let's say a few years ago you were wearing your Nike shoes and absolutely loved them. You were telling everyone where you got them, how comfortable they were, and how you couldn't wait to test them out on the road or on the court. Then that news came out that the factory Nike was using had sweatshop-like conditions. 

You went silent. Not only did you stop telling people about your Nike shoes, you may have switched back to your New Balance. 

The same can go for sports teams. Before the World Cup, everyone is loud and proud for the USA making it. Let's say in the Portugal vs. USA game, USA loses 2–0. But it's a rough 2–0. How loud will our "fanactics" be?

Conclusion: More BIRG, Less CORF

We want our advocates to do more BIRGing and less CORFing. Brands and advertisers must provide reasons why they should strut their stuff with the brands they know and love. If there is any element of CORFing, brands and marketers must figure out what made it happen, and how to fix it. And fix it quickly. 

No one likes a CORFer.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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