In an interesting post at the Harvard Business Review, Andrew O-Connell writes about recent research that indicates consumers think brands have a gender. And if you think about it, you’re probably not all that surprised.
In fact, you almost certainly have at least one brand preference that correlates strongly with your gender. In the cola category, both Coke and Pepsi have created entire brands aimed at either men or women, promoted with imagery that plays off gender stereotypes. Think: Diet Coke’s Construction Worker ad or the packaging and imagery around Coke Zero. Pepsi does the same thing with Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max.
The article includes this graphic that shows several brands on the gender spectrum:
The article mentions that this ought to be a surprise to us, since brands are nothing more than images, colors, typefaces, sounds, etc.
But, if you’ve been paying attention, this probably isn’t a surprise.
Neuroscience has shown our brains react to brands almost exactly the same way they react to people we feel close to (even love). And since gender is a significant part of how we perceive and feel about others, our perceptions of brands are likely to include those same personality traits.
Ask yourself: What attributes are you building into your brand to help consumers relate to it on their terms? If your product is generally designed for working moms, are there subtle things you are doing to signal that your brand is a lot like her? And that she might like it? If your buyer is a man, what attributes does your brand have to let him know that?
When it comes down to it, the brands we love may not care all that much about us, but we definitely care about them—and how they make use feel. A smart brand owner will keep that in mind as they build their brand story.