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The effect of anthropomorphism

You can compare brands with real people. This is the effect of anthropomorphism: assigning human characteristics to non-human entities. The ‘Big Five Model’ of Lewis Goldberg can be applied to brands, while it is designed for humans. This model consists of: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism.

Brands can also be considered as intentional agents. The 'Brands as Intentional Agents Framework' is based on a theory that is well known within social perception: the 'Stereotype Content Model'. The way intentions and suitability of brands are observed will predict the purchase intentions and brand loyalty. This brand loyalty is like a friendship and consumers rely on these brands. As brand you should be on top of the list.

Anthropomorphism can help your brand and consists of two types. You talk about partly anthropomorphism when consumers recognise important human characteristics in products, but do not consider the product as human. When the consumer believes the brand or product is a real person it is about literal anthropomorphism. It influences the consumer in a positive way when it is less likely to replace the product or does not care that much about the quality. The disadvantages of anthropomorphism are the strict judgement of the consumer when something goes wrong and less sharing of personal data with the brand.

To humanize a brand you need to focus on the next three levers. The first one is about activating the human knowledge. Brands can achieve this goal by design of the product or brand. Pepsi personified her logo with a smile, MINI Cooper was given a face and M&M's created characters. You can also use more pronouns in your communication like ‘me’ or ‘we’ instead of ‘they’ or ‘this’.

Second is about social connections. When people do not have any social connections with other people, they fill the void with anthropomorphism of a product or brand. You must be their friend.

Brands can use the last lever when things are fearful or hard to pronounce. People will be touched when brands present themselves and act as predictable, committed, reliable and a trusted partner.

Are you more interested in the effort of anthropomorphism and how to realize a friendship with your clients? Please don’t hesitate to contact us by mail or phone +31(0)10 22989 50.

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