What Online Dating Taught Me About Brand Loyalty


I’ve often joked that I’m a lifetime member of eHarmony. Which is my way of laughing off the fact that I haven’t found love on the online dating service – despite repeated tries over many months.

Friends have accused me of being too picky, too ambivalent, too idealistic.

As if those are bad traits…

Looking back, I think my first – and gravest – mistake was getting sucked in by those sappy TV commercials and assuming my dream woman would just drop into my virtual lap with little time or effort.

Accordingly, I started developing feelings for my first “match,” based entirely on a fantasy I had concocted around a few breezy email exchanges.

Naive, silly boy.

The fact is, I didn’t have nearly enough data to truly “know” this person, so I relied on my imagination to fill in the blanks.

When we finally met face-to-face, the actual woman showed up (as did the actual man), and there was no actual love connection.

A similar pattern plays out as consumers interact with companies and brands. You develop an initial impression (or fantasy) based on limited data: an ad campaign, a friend’s opinion, a cool logo. It’s only when you have a personal encounter with a specific company/product/service that you get a truly authentic experience. And it usually sticks.

My experience with Apple is a prime example. Raised on PCs, I didn’t have much experience with Apple computers. But I had admired the company’s marketing campaigns and cool factor. When it came time to replace my aging HP, I decided to give Apple a try. Fast-forward a few years, and I’m now a proud and avid user of an iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. I suppose that officially qualifies me as an Apple fanboy, but it’s only because the company lived up to its hype for me.

And speaking of fanboys, my mom most certainly functions as one for Walmart. She lives in a small town and considers it a treat to venture to the shopping mecca and pick up some greeting cards, yarn and a prescription refill. Despite her Walmart enthusiasm, however, I consider a trip to my local Walmart as something akin to being waterboarded. Sure, I appreciate a bargain as much as the next guy, but my first experience with my neighborhood Walmart carries painful memories of derelict crowds, disorganized merchandise, butt-ugly displays and surly sales associates. I’ve gladly decided to place my loyalty and dollars behind Target, a retailer that created what was a far more positive first experience.

For professional service companies, brand preferences most certainly boil down to a personal experience with a specific individual(s). I may opt to have my taxes prepared by H&R Block (if I receive a promotional discount) or a small independent professional (based on a colleague’s recommendation), but my actual experience with a provider will determine whether I choose the same one the following year or look elsewhere.

Which makes me wonder why companies don’t spend more time and money on the hiring and ongoing training of their people.

A glitzy marketing campaign can absolutely create buzz and attract customers.

But it’s the actual consumer experience that builds the brand loyalty that builds brands.


Let’s Get Phygital



So reads the bold greeting on the corporate website of Momentum Worldwide.

The intent of this marketing agency’s declaration, I’m guessing, is to position the firm’s talents in helping its clients understand and effectively synthesize “physical” and “digital” media. 

No question that’s a valuable asset for a marketing agency these days. But the fabrication of a ridiculously clunky word to express it, is laughable (at best).

I’m not sure I know anyone who wants to embrace a “phygital future” – with or without Momentum.

Nevertheless, the agency has launched a phygital blog, a phygital YouTube channel, and of course, has applied for a phygital trademark to prevent any phygital thieves from pilfering the term. After all, Momentum “has been phygital since 1987” and “is the first and only marketing agency for the Phygital™ world.Touché.

I wish this amusing scenario were an isolated example of marketers run amok, but it seems to be part of a larger trend of creative agencies mashing up two real words into a single — often ludicrous — made-up word.

Cohn & Wolfe likes to call itself “bigtique” (meaning, I suppose, that the firm embodies both the creativity of a boutique agency and the depth of a global powerhouse). I wonder what’s wrong with just stating that fact without resorting to gimmicky word play.

It was the intersection of “Traditional and “Digital” that spawned Tradigital Communications, a firm that “helps companies solve the internet marketing puzzle.” I’m betting their top name choice was Phygital Communications, but it was already taken.

And, a China-based marketing communications consultancy has capitalized on all the “glocal” hoopla with the creation of Glocal Strategy. Oh, how I pity the poor receptionist… 

English has more than a million words, but apparently, we’ve exhausted all effective combinations and must create unique amalgamations to illuminate our creative brilliance.

Seems like blatant abuse of a living language to me. 

In fact, it’s positively absurdiculous





Hi, I’m Mike, and I’m Not a Mormon

But I do know a compelling marketing campaign when I see one.  

A series of “I’m a Mormon” TV and radio spots are running rampant in St. Louis, and they are striving to convince the non-LDS masses that Mormons aren’t as freaky as we might believe.

Not surprisingly, these vignettes make no mention of such contentious “Mormon issues” as polygamy, special underwear, baptizing the dead, or Joseph Smith and his golden plates.

What they do present are attractive, articulate, successful men and women talking about their lives and interests. Joy is a world-champion longboarder. Jeff is a sculptor and motorcyclist. Cassandra is a painter.

So why are our LDS friends investing in this high-end, pricey media campaign? Some have surmised that these spots (which are running in nine mid-sized “swing-state” cities) were created to help normalize the Mormon faith in advance of Mitt Romney’s run for the White House in 2012.

Spokesmen from the Mormon organization have vehemently denied this accusation, but I’ll admit it’s a compelling one.

We’ll have to see if the campaign spreads to other cities and builds momentum alongside a certain former governor from Massachusetts.


The man behind the curtain?


Even a counter-campaign is spawned!