Is it really love between you and Starbucks, Apple, and Nike? Can you fall in love with sports teams like the Lakers, Cowboys, and Yankees? Is it possible to be enamored with Lyft, Airbnb, and Spotify? How about a deep affection for BMW, Mercedes, or Harley-Davidson? Is what you feel true love or some passing infatuation?
According to brand love expert Dr. Aaron Ahuvia, you can love non-interpersonal things in your life. Yes, that means you really do love nature, the United States, spin class, La Croix, and Ben & Jerry’s.
Love for brands isn’t just some passing infatuation. It’s a real commitment with many of the antecedents of love you feel for a person. That’s why brand love has been found to be the best predictor of customer loyalty in business—even better than a brand’s perceived quality.
So if people really do enter into emotional relationships with brands, how can customers fall in love with your brand? Here are five things Ahuvia has found in his research that can help you woo your customers.
1) Make it sexy and personal.
For companies with products, love is all about design, packaging, accessorizing, and personalization. You ever notice all those companies who design boxes as sleek and trim as their products (Hello, Apple) or find models with abs galore and what seems to be a shirt allergy (looking at you, Abercrombie & Fitch)? Or those companies that let you personalize the product like Vans or Mini-Coopers? These companies let you create something 100% unique to you. And getting personal is all about love.
2) Make it meaningful.
Companies that make their products, services, and brands meaningful create a stronger bond with people. If a company identifies its brand with values (e.g., creativity, simplicity, or individuality) or social causes (e.g., environment or peace) you tend to identify with the brand if you share the same value or cause. Lady Gaga led with her values and developed a loyal fan base. In short, if your company believes in something strongly, your customers will identify with you.
3) Be authentic.
We like honest and authentic people. If your company’s origin, history, vision, or culture appear authentic and real, customers could fall hard for you. Just look at the love created for Patagonia by its focus on quality products and saving the planet. Or look at the devotion of Harley-Davidson owners—not to mention their tattoos—after the company focused on lifestyle. Music festivals bring out the feelings too. Burning Man’s focus on sustainability has kept music lovers coming back for years.
4) Become a valuable and trusted resource.
You can’t love someone you don’t trust. Likewise, if your company is fake, no one is going to love your brand. However, if your company becomes trusted for its expertise or advice, you can build lasting brand love. For example, Google generates trust as a resource with its free office tools (maps, translator, etc); Kraft builds love through its recipe website; Consumer Reports receives people’s confidence for its impartial reviews.
5) Humanize your brand.
In the end, brand love comes down to loving people. The more your company appears human, the more likely someone will fall in love with it. You can humanize your brand by communicating in the first person like Lindt chocolates does with its packaging that talks in the first person ( “Hello, my name is Nougat Crunch”). You can use human characteristics like car logos that imitate human faces or use human names like Ralph Lauren or Cap’n’ Crunch. Finally, interact on social media by posting and discussing under your brand name, so your brand is seen as a person.
Love for brands is legit. However, to have someone fall in love with your brand your company has to be lovable. The principles of being lovable aren’t hard: they are the same for humans and brands. Be personal, meaningful, authentic, trustworthy, and human, and your brand will be loved.
Kyle Crocco is the Content Marketing Coordinator at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau, a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, and the lead singer of Duh Professors. He regularly publishes business book reviews, personal development pieces, and thought-leadership articles on Medium, Business 2 Community, and Born 2 Invest.