“I pledge to fulfill my brand promise: I will be faithful to you and honest with you; I will respect, listen, help, and care for you; I will try to make your life better; I will forgive you as we have been forgiven; I will continue to strengthen our bond; through the best and worst of what is to come, and as long as we are together. Brand Love.”
Most brands need to earn the customer’s love over time. To speed up the courtship, several brands try to become more human-like. People choose their favourite brands with their hearts, not their heads. Brand love evokes emotion and is more powerful than any brand story.
Love at First Sight
Carolin Dahlman says in her book, Love Branding, if you can learn to master your customers’ emotions and make them feel the love, you will earn more money. She explains that love is a two-way street, and most brands fail to love their customers back. So what does that mean? It’s all about giving back what you get. I guess you can say it’s not a one-night-stand but a commitment – a long-term commitment.
No one knows this better than Procter & Gamble. Over the last 180 years, P&G has been at the forefront of creating powerful, emotional relationships between consumers and brands. They have been pioneers and leaders in embracing technology to build a deep brand connection with their customers. They utilized soap operas on the radio and early television, award shows, and fast-growing web ventures.
P&G Global Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard emphasized the importance of one-to-one relationships in today’s always-connected, always-on digital environment. He said that brands need to be less focused on making money and instead emphasize improving customers’ lives. He, too, thinks it’s important to give back to the customer.
P&G’s used the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games and the Paralympic Winter Games to thank moms through several highly emotional stories. There aren’t too many mothers who can’t relate to these stories.
P&G Pampers brand is another excellent example of how P&G has defined a higher purpose for their brand beyond the functional benefit of keeping babies dry. Pampers has leveraged the critical consumer insight that moms—especially first-time moms—are continually looking to connect with others sharing similar experiences. Pampers created programs such as “Pampers Village” and “A Parent is Born” as forums for moms to connect, learn and discover. If you visit their Canadian Facebook page, they have over 18,275,856—pretty good for a poopy diaper discussion.
But is this brand love? Love is defined as an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment – the ultimate goal for any brand.
It’s hard to argue with success, and no brand is more successful than Heinz Ketchup. A brand that has been around for over 144 years is still the bestselling brand of ketchup globally, with over 650 million bottles sold every year. So what is their love potion? Diane Levine, the author of the blog Beneath the Brand, says their enduring success comes down to a few brilliant but straightforward relationship strategies:
- Maintain a core (or at least an air) of consistency
- Spice things up once in a while
- Be considerate of their needs.
In the end, she says it’s the little things that matter most.
In Romancing the Brand: How Brands Create Strong, Intimate Relationships with Consumers, branding expert Tim Halloran argues that today’s effective marketers must foster a deep, committed, and emotionally connected relationship with their consumer base. They must keep the sparks alive in a long-term relationship rather than focus solely on the short-term, single purchase.
Building off of Diane Levine’s three strategies, Tim Halloran includes:
- Listen to your customers.
- Strive to make your customers’ lives better
On the last point, Nike ‘Just do it’ is now more about ‘Help me just do it.’ Nike+ has become an enabler to its customers and brings them together to stay motivated and challenged in a virtual community. Nike’s success has to do with its focused use of athlete relationships and innovative brand experiences to inspire its customers to feel like athletes. Its products and technologies are always linked to values such as aspiration, achievement and status.
Tim Hortons has found its way into Canadians’ hearts not only through their coffee on every corner of every city and town of Canada but also through their social consciousness of understanding Canadians. From their support of the Canadian military to tapping into the Canadian passion for hockey, they have successfully used the Canadian brand to reinforce their brand love.
If you read this article out of context, you would think that we talked about the secrets of a successful marriage. In truth, what we are talking about here is a deep and emotional relationship between a customer and a brand. The exciting thing is that the historical brands figured this out a long time ago. Keep re-engineering how you engage and support your customers. The internet allows every brand to engage with its customers on a one-to-one level 24/7. But without the insights and relationship strategies to connect on an emotional level, there will never be any brand love.
If you want customers to love your brand, make sure you give more than you take. Follow through on the little things, keep your promises, learn to apologize when you make a mistake or disappoint and spend time learning about what is important to them. But most importantly, your brand must be authentic and real to be loved.