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Empathetic brands vs. psychopathic brands, let's flood the world with empathy

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In an economic and social context where, to offer a soft definition, things have become more than unpleasant, we must flood our minds with positive stimuli so as not to succumb to uneasiness and this is where, from the perspective of marketing and communication, the Brands must offer a step forward, leading an empathetic commitment to attributes and values.
It is time we start demanding a greater level of emotional commitment from these brands given the times we live in.
Now is the time and place for brands to implement what Howard Gardner calls “interpersonal intelligence,” which is equivalent to what in other psychological trends we can define as empathy.
Interpersonal intelligence allows you to understand others and communicate with them, taking into account their different moods, characters, motivations and abilities.
Let us demand that the brands that are part of our lives assume social responsibility and have the ability to help others, that they be sensitive, that they be collaborative, that they offer us the necessary sense of humor and that they explain to us a story of why we should trust in them as part of our consumption.
Did you know that stimuli related to empathy abilities are absent in the pre-frontal lobe of the brain in the case of psychopaths? From what we know from neuroscience, the pre-frontal lobe is the main mechanism of our moral reasoning, and in the case of the psychopath, is it inactive when faced with a stimulus that suggests empathy towards others? We now have another option for analysis from the point of view of Neuromarketing, understanding which brands manage to stimulate this pre-frontal lobe and generate a greater degree of empathy.
One of the main characteristics of a psychopath is not his evil or cruelty, but his total absence of empathy. What does this mean for a brand?
If we analyze the basic characteristics of a psychopath that we can extrapolate to a marketing context, we would obtain the following results:
  •       Trying to pretend what is not, falsehood or lack of sincerity
  •       Poor reliability
  •       Incapable of long-term planning, incapable of generating a lasting relationship
  •       Pathological egocentrism
  •       Insensitivity in interpersonal relationships
  •       Absence of remorse or guilt
  •       irresponsible behavior
And the most relevant is seduction, persuasion, charm, affability, the mechanism that articulates the “psychopathic brand” convincing the consumer that it is infinitely necessary to meet irrational needs that the consumer cannot detail.
Do you have a brand in mind with these characteristics? Let's move the points in terms of image, positioning, branding and communication and we will surely come up with some brands that by definition would be “psychopathic brands”.
In the opposite field we have empathy and here arises my admiration for Frans de Waal and his analysis of the context in which empathy moves in society with a great headline “Greed is out. Empathy is in.” Greed is no longer a “seductive” element valued as a success factor.
Brands must be able to “connect”, if you are hurting I will be too, if you feel pain I will also feel your pain and if you are happy I will also be happy with you. In short, we talk about “empathetic brands” as those that are capable of understanding what my situation is as a consumer and adapt their strategy to this situation.
Empathy is already a phenomenon or as Frans de Waal explains through a speech by Barack Obama, “I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit. “You only realize your true potential when you hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourself.”
Or what the controversial Jeremy Rifkin calls in his concept of “Homo Empathicus”, a change towards a new model of action where an empathic consciousness is generated, an emotional contagion through a sense of justice that has to do with a relationship of reciprocity between brands and consumers. What we call the “dialogue” step compared to the past monologue. That brands start listening to the consumer instead of asking them.
I have no doubt, those brands that raise the flag of empathy will be the ones that will achieve the greatest success. Those brands that lead the process of “humanizing” their relationships with consumers will be the ones that will survive in the near future.
We are not only talking about emotions or a concept of sympathy but about a phenomenon that has to do with a group emotional instinct, belonging to a group, a phenomenon that lies in “synchrony”, we empathize when we synchronize our movements, but think about those more emotional elements such as a soccer game, a concert, a “flash-mob” phenomenon, dancing, the laughter of a dinner with friends. We synchronize movements and empathize.
It is the era of empathy and brands cannot help but be oblivious to this phenomenon.
Jordi Crespo Navarro
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