Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
We're already halfway toward becoming robot beings.
Tech is an octopus that playfully tosses us from one tentacle to another, knowing that we can never escape.
We don't even show signs that escape is on our minds.
Technology is just too much mindless fun. Who needs a mind anyway?
Conveniently, marketing consultancy Brand Keys has just released its annual ranking of Loyalty Leaders.
These are the brands that have (allegedly) captured consumer hearts. Or, at least, the 50,527 hearts involved in this survey.
As might be expected, Amazon, Google, Apple, Netflix and Samsung crowd the ranking's peak.
Brand Keys, though, noted that more traditional brands are finding ways to inspire faith and love, just when you thought they might be ready for the brand abattoir.
Two have managed not only to hold their own, but to rise and be ahead of brands such as Instagram and YouTube.
Those brands are Trader Joe's and Domino's Pizza.
The former has risen from 13th to 10th. The latter has soared from 20th to 12th.
What might they be doing right? In Trader Joe's case, well, have you ever shopped there?
There's a peculiar camaraderie between staff and customers. When you add this to clever product choices, you begin to see that it's a mesmerizing place to which one actively likes to return.
As for Domino's, its early embrace of convenience via technology has surely made it leap into customers' hearts.
Domino's understands me! I don't know how, but it just does!
It's fascinating, indeed, which brands seem to be thriving at the emotional level and which might be enduring that sinking feeling.
Well, if they take research like this seriously, that is. (And I'm always a touch skeptical about almost every piece of research I see.)
While traditional brands Ford, Hyundai and Dunkin' Donuts are still in the top 20, Starbucks has endured a grande drop from 17th to 63rd.
Brand Keys intimates that this might have something to do with the chain closing 150 stores. I worry that there might be a touch of more general Starbucks fatigue creeping in.
Naturally, I asked Starbucks for its view. It offered me this pulsating comment:
Our partners (employees) take great pride in delivering the Starbucks experience to every customer who walks into our doors. It's that connection between customers and our partners that makes Starbucks unique, and our partners work to earn that special connection through every moment of engagement with customers.
The chain pointed me to the fact that Starbucks came 5th in Fortune's ranking of the world's most admired companies.
Oh, and to the fact that Etisphere named it one of the world's most ethical companies for the 12th year running.
But loyalty is such a slippery thing.
I can admire you, I can think you're so very ethical and, come to think of it, that's exactly the sort of character that so often suffers unfaithfulness in romance novels.
Then again, there are so many rankings and lists, aren't there? Which one should I be loyal to?
But while we're here with Brand Keys, another brand enduring a sharp drop is Airbnb, which has plummeted from 31st to 99th.
This might seem odd to some, but Brand Keys points to the brand's friction with localities.
Then there's Victoria's Secret, diving from 60th to 93rd.
I won't get my underwear in too much of a twist over this one.
Yes, it may be true that when a Trader Joe's moves into a neighborhood, house prices rise.
Some Harvard brains, though, also find a connection between a Starbucks neighborhood and house price rises.
Where do your loyalties lie?
Oh, you have many. That's interesting.
Please lie down here on my purple chaise-longue and tell me all about them.