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The Psychology of Belonging: Why People Become Brand Fans

by Peter Herrnreiter  |  
June 23, 2014
  |  8,568 views

Too many marketers are not aware that every decision that a customer makes consists of complex emotions.

One such emotion, that of belonging, is the very reason your brand needs to develop its "why statement."

To understand the complex psychology of belonging, or purpose, let's look at a simple example of that idea in practice. Here's one from the sporting world.

Every four years, the FIFA World Cup is played. Fans from across the globe pack stadiums, pubs, living rooms, and city streets to watch matches. World Cup fans, like those from other sports, adorn themselves in the colors of their country, a ritual that has its roots in medieval tradition, in which people's sense of self and loyalty was tightly associated with their lords' colors and symbols.

Today's fans, while not dressing for battle, are the same—driven by an emotional connection to their team through deep-seated personal motivators. That connection (whether you call it a "desire to belong" or even "purpose") is equal parts a reflection of self and team. Such connections have even been shown to enhance someone's meaning of life.


So, why do we care about how emotionally connected someone can get to a soccer team?

The Psyche of Fans

Fans, by definition, are fanatics about the team or brand. Those brands have developed a very strong sense of being—the why statement. That statement, less of a formal mission statement and more of a sense of purpose, roots the brand into the psyche of fans and motivates them through emotion to take action.


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Peter Herrnreiter is director of Digital at Motion PR.

LinkedIn: Peter Herrnreiter

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  • by Fabienne Raphael Mon Jun 23, 2014 via web

    Thank you Peter for reminding us how important it is to create emotions when our audience reads or listens what we have to share.

    You are right: when you are transparent and share your why to your audience, each member of your audience feels directly touched and this emotion can definitely lead to becoming a fan of your brand.

    One thing I've learned from once hearing a conference by Yanik Silver, is to name your audience. Give it a name, so they can identify with your brand, so they can feel as part of a huge nation, a group, a family.

  • by Mike Bragg Tue Jun 24, 2014 via web

    Fantastic article!

    I read somewhere that customers don't want to hear about what you did to create a new product or service, they want to hear what it will do for them - communicate the benefit, not your own hard work. That's how I try to conduct myself and it sounds like you share that.

    I'll certainly be back to read more!

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