Cialdini Principles of Persuasion Series – Principle 5: Liking

April 16, 2015 | blog | By Mike Sullivan


When a brand is liked, that can lead to more sales, success and popularity for said brand. It seems to be a pretty logical proposition, doesn’t it? The more a brand is liked, the more positive qualities like trustworthiness are attributed to it…which in turn leads to more sales and influence in its industry. You’ll be happy to know that copious research also bears this out.

The question that naturally follows is, how can challenger brands be liked by more people? Having a sense of physical beauty being attached to the brand can help a lot, as research shows that more physically attractive folks are liked more. This ties into the physical attractiveness stereotype, which, right or wrong, is just a cold, hard fact in our society and culture.

Marketers can also leverage public declarations of liking by, for example, turning more Facebook likes into greater conversions and sales. The more likes your Facebook page has, the easier it will be to turn page visitors into actual conversions. Again, this is based on the fact that people and brands that are liked, by whatever reason, just have an edge.

Let’s look at how some brands are already using liking to generate more revenues.

Hardee’s is a textbook case of the old sex-sells advertising model because the company loves getting bikini-clad women washing cars and eating its hamburgers in its ads. As the sixth-biggest restaurant chain in the country, it has resolved to use shock and titillation to draw attention to its brand.

In 2005, the company famously (or infamously) attracted a lot of press by having then-hot Paris Hilton washing her luxury car in a bikini while chomping down on a Hardee’s/Carl Jr.’s hamburger. This moved mountains for the company, as burger sales spiked after Hilton’s ad aired.

In 2014, the company tried the same thing again, but this time with a different woman: upstart Sports Illustrated model Hannah Ferguson. Oh, it features a cameo of Hilton, too.

The way the liking principle works here is pretty obvious: Consumers see an attractive woman in a bikini, and since they like what they see, this carries over to the challenger brand as well in the form of more sales.

Since the beginning of time, humor has been a very disarming tool that could break the ice very easily. Humor is therefore a vital factor in getting people to like your challenger brand. When customers find a brand funny, they also find it enjoyable, and when they do so, they let their guard down to start identifying with it. That’s when the liking principle begins to pay dividends.

One brand that totally commits itself to using humor to persuade new leads to convert is LessFilms, a video-marketing agency from Florida. Its About Us page is a case study in not taking itself too seriously at all. While this could be a borderline-risky approach for some brands, LessFilms succeeds because its whole branding persona is based on being funny…to the point of even wackiness (you may have noticed the masked wrestler on each page!).


When leads see the director’s and project manager’s bios intentionally written to be very ridiculous, they’ll appreciate the humor. In turn, that will translate into more likes because, well, we humans are just wired to like funny companies the way we also tend to like funny people.

J.C. Penney’s Attempt to Be Similar

J.C. Penney trails the leader in U.S. department stores, Macy’s, by a wide margin,according to annual retail sales. The company actually has more stores than Macy’s, but is not pulling in as much revenue as Macy’s. In such a situation, a challenger may want to present itself as very accessible and similar to the average consumer in the hopes of increasing being liked. That’s exactly what J.C. Penney’s advertising strategy suggests.

LOOMIS Imagibrand Process

In an ad on its website, the department store wants shoppers to be aware of its anniversary VIP sale. While the company could’ve used flashy celebrities or attractive models in the ad to draw shoppers’ eyes, J.C. Penney went instead with something similar to which the majority of its shoppers can relate.

That’s why the ad features an average, relatable woman sporting sunglasses, a striped T-shirt and jeans shorts. Since she looks like somebody we’ve all seen and maybe even know in our own lives, we feel similar to her. This transfers over to J.C. Penney, as we then also feel more similar to this brand that identifies itself with ordinary, accessible personas like the woman in the ad.


The research backs this phenomenon up as well! Enter social psychological approaches. According to this field of study, the more something or someone is similar to you, you end up liking it more and even being attracted to it more.

Kraft Compliments Its Customers on Social Media

Another way for a brand to get people and leads to like it is by taking the initiative and the first step. Something as little as paying a person a public compliment can have major ripple effects that make it easy for many people to like your brand.

Enter Kraft, now soon to become the Kraft Heinz Company, as part of the proposed merger with Heinz. For all its size and the popularity of its products, the combined company would still just be the 5th-biggest food company on the planet.

A short while ago, Kraft used social media to let its supporters know how much it values them. Tweeting under the KRAFT Mac & Cheese handle, the company personally answered a mac n’ cheese fan’s pining for some gooey, creamy mac n’ cheese in a very humorous fashion, to boot! This personal attention lets Kraft customers know that they’re valued by the company, and there’s no bigger compliment a brand can give its fans.


Needless to say, when a company goes the extra mile to do something thoughtful like this, fans aren’t the only ones who end up liking the brand more. Even people who don’t particularly feel strongly one way or another about said brand will like it more because of this very personable way of dealing with fans on social media.

Do Everything You Can to Become More Likeable

It can be a tall order to consciously want to be more “likeable” to the public. After all, liking something can be rather subjective, as we all know. Not everyone likes the same things, and sometimes, strategies to increase one’s likeability can be hard to pull off.

And that’s exactly where the above strategies come into play, though. These surefire ways to use persuasion by way of being more liked are backed up by case study after case study. If you use any of these methods to get more people and leads to like you, you’ll notice a positive result, for sure.

It may be hard to believe, but our Cialdini series is almost over! Next week, we wrap up the good doctor’s mind-blowing treatise on the best practices of persuasion marketing by examining the scarcity principle. We guarantee that you’ll learn something you’ve never thought of before when thinking about scarcity. See you then!

challanger brandcialdini

Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


We challenge underdog brands to think differently. We help them find their voice, and urge them to blaze new trails to make sure they stand out from the pack. Whether you need an agency of record or support on a project, we are here to help you win.