How 10 Mass-Market Brands Form A Personal Relationship With You

Screenshot of TV character "Barney" via

Here are 10 mass-market brands that grew over the past 10-20 years to communicate to a mass audience in a very personal way. They include:
  1. Barney, the '90s children's TV character
  2. Disney, an entertainment empire
  3. The Kardashians, the stars of a reality series currently on TV
  4. Eminem, a rap singer
  5. Miley Cyrus, a singer
  6. Apple, a consumer electronics vendor
  7. Amazon, an online vendor
  8. Starbucks, a coffee and related foods purveyor
  9. McDonald's, a fast food seller
  10. Harley-Davidson, a motorcycle gear seller
As a general rule, these brands have employed the following kinds of tactics:
  1. Communicate using visual media
  2. Go for an authentic-seeming, even intimate, emotional connection
  3. Speak to a customer who is clearly envisioned
  4. Dominate a single channel, e.g. in-store, on TV, or Instagram
  5. Tell a story that evolves
  6. Keep the elements simple, basic, and dramatic - for global appeal
  7. Reach the customer during formative years or during times of vulnerability
  8. Offer multiple channels of customer response
  9. In responding to the customer, talk
  10. Create a community in which the story is knowable to all, but "insider knowledge" to the loyal
New brands can appear and become powerful personas almost overnight. The key to creating them is to understand that ultimately it's all about reaching out to the lonely in a frequently friendless world.

* All opinions my own.


Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal is an author, independent brand researcher, and adjunct marketing professor with 20 years of varied experience. An avid researcher and prolific, creative writer, Dr. Blumenthal's interests span communication, marketing, qualitative media content analysis, political rhetoric, propaganda, leadership, management, organizational development, and more. An engaged citizen, she has for several years worked to raise awareness around child sex trafficking and the dangers of corruption at @drdannielle on Twitter. You can find her articles at Medium, and, and she frequently answers questions on Quora. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own.