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Brand Biases and the Empathy Gap

The Empathy Gap presents those of us who work in the brand consulting world with an interesting challenge. The Empathy Gap is a cognitive bias that occurs when one underestimates the influence of feelings (or lack of feelings) or other internal emotional reactions.

We see this gap often between businesses or brand handlers and their end customers; the gap of empathy can be large, and one that requires thoughtful navigation. Much of our work revolves around navigating this chasm, bridging the gap and helping brand owners understand the needs, perceptions and base emotions of their customers – however challenging they may be.

One can argue that this bias can be attributed to the very existence of brands themselves. Consumers were introduced to brands after the launch of the industrial revolution when buying goods shifted from a visit to Joe’s Butcher shop to buying your meats at Target from Tyson or Hormel. Companies needed something to replace the human interaction that no longer existed – an interaction that could contain empathy, and in turn solicit trust. Enter brands. (You can learn more about this backstory in our latest book, The Physics of Brand. Available on Amazon here.)

Thankfully we're seeing [a few] more companies and brands understand this gap in today's market, and you can bet the ones that do have a wild following. Brand authenticity is the hot term that describes the ones who get it. The companies that attempt to bridge the empathy gap with luke-warm sentiment or a lost understanding won't resignate with modern consumers. "I don't trust you!" they'll say. Don't fret, there are companies like ours that live and breathe on these choppy waters.

This history has also influenced our own definition of the word brand: a container of trust.

Can you guess what inspired our own brand name, Capsule?

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Categories Branding, Work

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