Tag Archives: brand

blue shirt

Secret Cliques and Social Identity Resonance

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I am involved in several consulting projects that involve whether users notice very subtle cues in the environment and if so, how quickly they incorporate it into their situation awareness and/or react to it. I have intentionally used the phrase “and/or” because the detection is often unconscious, which means the reaction can occur without the awareness. And of course the awareness can occur without any need for a response.

While I can’t talk about these projects specifically, they reminded me of the discussion we had in June on brand logos and identity resonance. In that discussion, we wear apparel with logos to demonstrate our identity in a social group. This helps us bond with other members of that group and to differentiate ourselves from non-members.

man with funny face


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Authenticity is a powerful buzzword in management and marketing these days. It is not new, but it seems to be taking on a new level of importance. Companies are striving to make their brands deliver a more authentic experience. Instead of getting a response from customer service, you get a response from Sally and if you click on her link you can watch a video of her taking her kids to school. So that you can get to know her better.

If the ancient Greek aphorism gnóthi sautón—“know thyself”*—is any indication, people have been obsessed with being themselves for a very long time. And no wonder: acting like yourself generally goes hand in hand with a sense of well-being—studies have found that people who believe they’re behaving authentically are less distressed and have higher self-esteem [1].

Group of apples and oranges

Group Identity

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As the weather starts (finally) to turn into real summer sun, we hope to shift into vacation mode here at EID as well. No, don’t worry that we will not be taking extended absences. But we will be digging up some more light reading for your beach reading pleasure.

With that in mind, I dug up a review article from last October on group identity. To establish a group identity, there are two components. First, you need to convince yourself that you belong to the group. That is a great source of self-delusion, but a topic for another day. The second is that you need to demonstrate some of the attributes of the group to others to convince them that you belong. This includes showing members of the group so that you are accepted and showing non-members of the group to show them that you are different. The review article covers this second component, specifically with regard to the logos that we wear on our shirts.