Charm vs. Persuasion in Branding Strategy

Once upon a time, a wild advertising executive at Feral believed charm was the superior branding strategy to increase brand loyalty and advocacy.

The executive surrounded themselves with other experts who believed that, while persuasion focused on convincing someone to do something, charm was about creating a positive emotional response that led to increased brand loyalty and advocacy.

How did the wild executive convince these specialists to join their pack? They told them how behavioural and neuroscience research showed that emotions play a significant role in decision-making. A study by Knutson et al. (2007)* published in the journal "Neuron" found that positive emotions increase the likelihood of making a purchase, while negative emotions decrease it.

The study showed that charm tapped into this emotional response by creating a positive association with the brand, making it more likely that consumers would choose it over competitors.

This next finding might fascinate you, though it didn’t surprise the Feral team: when people were exposed to something that they found pleasant or attractive, it activated the release of dopamine in the brain, which was associated with pleasure and motivation. This positive emotional response led to increased brand loyalty and advocacy.

On the other hand, persuasion was seen as a more aggressive strategy that could come across as insincere or inauthentic. A study by Audia et al. (2017)** published in "Academy of Management Journal" found that persistence-induced performance declines.

When consumers felt like they were being sold to, it created a negative emotional response and decreased the likelihood of making a purchase. Perhaps they felt too much like prey, rather than part of the pack?

At Feral, legend has it that they were always big believers in charm. They already knew that charm created a positive emotional response that led to increased brand loyalty and advocacy, because their clients had seen wildly better results from charming communications.

The story goes that, by tapping into the power of emotions and the brain's reward system, charm could create a strong connection with consumers and could drive sales even when ad budgets were tiny.

And so, Feral continued to use charm in all their brand positioning strategies, from the beginning of the world till the end of days.

The end.

*Knutson B, Rick S, Wimmer GE, Prelec D, Loewenstein G. Neural predictors of purchases. Neuron. 2007 Jan 4;53(1):147-56. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2006.11.010. PMID: 17196537; PMCID: PMC1876732.

**Pino G. Audia, Edwin A. Locke, and Ken G. Smith, 2017: The Paradox of Success: An Archival and a Laboratory Study of Strategic Persistence Following Radical Environmental Change. AMJ, 43, 837–853, https://journals.aom.org/doi/abs/10.5465/1556413