American Psychologists have discovered that we need to “get the T-shirt”. In an interesting group of different studies, the researchers from New York University found that in order for us to really feel we are part of a group we have to show that we are in that group. We need physical items to demonstrate to others the group to which we belong.
What this means for your web site or your online business is that you need physical items to help engender a feeling of community within your users. Some online groups, such as Ecademy or NRG have button badges, for instance. The research also shows there is considerable group value in having a physical “home” – people associate the property with the group as well.
For your business – and mine – it is therefore important that your clients and your web site readers have some physical attribute that helps them feel they “belong”. There is a symbolic value in physical items that help people show they are part of “your world”.
In the coming weeks you will be able to get a range of physical items to show you read my articles. I’m also going to be setting up a “home” for my readers – a building they can associate with me and the group of readers. Strange how these things work isn’t it? I remember years ago working for several newspapers whose buildings were part of their identity. A small graphic of the “HQ” was printed within the title of the publication. It clearly helped the community of readers identify themselves as being part of that group. The designers probably thought it just looked good; this new research shows it had a real purpose though.
So, what physical items can your Internet users associate with your business? You clearly need something to engender that feeling of belonging.