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Why Are We Brand Loyal?

What happens when an unstoppable force hits an immovable object? Well, a long-winded argument about iPhones vs Android happens. I’m pretty sure that’s how the old saying goes.

Since the dawn of the smartphone age, you’ve been pretty much forced to choose a side. You take the iPhone for sleekness and strong brand identity. Or you choose Android for lower prices and ease of use. Or you choose the Windows Phone if you’re less than one percent of people. (Research-backed burn!)

But why do we choose sides and become so brand loyal? Why do we have such strong opinions on Ford vs. GM, McDonald’s vs. Burger King, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vs. Street Sharks?


Screenshot from the EveryAppleAd YouTube channel

A great example is the “I’m a Mac”, I’m a PC” commercials of the 2000s. The ads show a cool and laid-back Justin Long proving how much more hip and sleek Mac computers are than the boring, corporate guy representing Windows computers. This visualization alone is the perfect example of how some brands see themselves and their competition, along with how they try to create brand loyalty.

Brand loyalty in itself isn’t anything new. Major banks we use today such as Chase and American Express have historical roots dating back to 1799 and 1850 respectively. I’d say it’s safe to say there was just a little brand competition along the way.

Additionally, there was the fierce railroad competition of the Union Pacific battling the Central Pacific, which raged all throughout the 1860s and even resulted in some workers losing their lives. Makes arguing about Subway vs. Quiznos seem a bit silly, doesn’t it?

More recently, look back to the 90s console wars, where there were countless arguments (and commercial campaigns) over whether to go with the fun, approachable Super Nintendo or the mature, edgy Sega Genesis. Well, mature and edgy for its time.


Image from Flickr user haggismac

Overall, we as humans love picking teams. We love it when Captain America battles Iron Man over ideals. We love making the choice between Team Edward and Team Jacob.  

(And no, I’m not going to mention politics. Mentioning Team Edward vs. Team Jacob is controversial enough for my liking.)

And when you look at it, creating such a “brand battle” mentality is actually quite a brilliant marketing strategy. Think of it this way: if we all only drank Coca Cola, we would think of them as an evil monopoly in a dystopian future where there is no soda freedom. However, because of the fierce competition of the Cola Wars, we make our choice and point out to the other side why our choice is better than the other, creating a feeling of connection with the product. Even if that totally leaves us RC Cola fans out.


Featured image from Flickr user victoriawhite

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December 6, 2016
By Anthony Elio

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