Free offer: A Whole Personality

Written by

Andrew Millar


March 5, 2007

The car race has been and gone for another year.

I love it. I love the energy it brings. And our studio is right in the middle of the ‘buzz’.

On Friday though, one of our people wandered back from lunch. She came in wondering out loud, in a kind of Seinfeld-esque monologue about all the people walking up and down the street dressed like mechanics, drivers and racing team members. Some people had obviously spent quite a roll on shirts, pants, flags, bags, hats and even shoes.

“What’s with the red shirts? What’s that all about? 362 days of the year they dress like normal people. The V8 race comes to town and all of a sudden they pretend they are key members of the Holden Dealer Team. What – are they trying to get into the pits for free?”

I said “”No. They just want to belong. They are wearing their team colours like a footy fan wears the ‘strip’ of their favourite team to the game”.”

“”I don’t put my hair in a bun every time I go to the Ballet!”” Lucie replied. (You could almost hear the Jewish/New York accent.)

But there is a deeper need at play here.

What people are actually doing is trying to take ownership of the team. For one simple reason: that team represents attributes they see as lacking in themselves. We want to own the archetype that that brand portrays.

That’s why people are happy to walk around drinking coffee from a branded paper cup. And what is more, the shops do a great trade in selling china cups so you can drink your coffee at home and still ‘claim your tribe’ even though no one can see you.

There is a personal and a public face to brand loyalty.

This explains why some products or services don’t take off, even though what they offer is of high quality, good value or just the best available. It is simply because the brand does not contribute anything to the people who buy it, beyond the product they pay for. And it must.

It gives a whole new meaning to the concept of ‘value adding’.

So brand loyalty is not about supporting a team, it’s about being loyal to you. It’s about wanting to be a complete person.

I can see the point-of-sale now… “’Free character traits with every coffee and donut deal!’