Brand love: Intensifying affinity for your brand now to generate brand growth in the future
Senior Director, Client Leadership
Love, like trust, is something we know brands should aspire to. But it can feel so fleeting and aspirational that taking action on it can be difficult. Still, it is worth the investment to measure, grow, and factor brand love into your branding strategies. The key to doing so is to stop viewing your brand in isolation of the promises it makes to consumers – and start integrating your customers into the equation. It’s about knowing them as people and deepening your relationship with them.
Keeping brand promises is not just about strengthening your brand’s image, it’s about developing a trusted relationship with consumers and earning their love. When promises are broken, trust is difficult to regain – or in more philosophical terms (because who doesn’t appreciate a nod to Nietzsche) consumers aren’t upset that they were lied to so much as they are upset that moving forward, they won’t be able to believe you again.
Meaningful Difference grounded in authenticity
Love is a very strong word. Do people really love a brand or is it more about building affinity for the brand? These are arguably two sides of the same coin. When we measure brand affinity, we’re looking for consumers to tell us the degree to which they love or hate a brand because we know that affinity strongly correlates to usage. This is where authenticity comes into play. When you’re building your brand equity, it is important to ensure it is Meaningfully Different from its competitors and amplify this to generate greater Salience. But this cannot take place in a vacuum.
You can only create a real aura of authenticity if you know where your customers are giving you license to play and then leveraging that in your brand positioning.
Meaningful brands meet needs and garner affinity
In our fast-paced world, we focus heavily on making sure we offer the best solution, the best offering, and the best anything that consumers want. We think in tactical terms and innovate either to meet current customer needs or fulfill unmet needs in a way that we can uniquely own.
At the same time, it's important to remember that customer loyalty is not about functionality but about emotion. Our research has shown that while people may not remember the details of their interactions with a brand, they will remember how their totality left them feeling. As a result, acquisition strategies should incorporate experiential promises as well as functional ones. Then, brands should bring those promises to life in such a unique way that people feel that nothing else can deliver the same positive feeling.
Know what your brand stands for
Today, consumers increasingly expect to know your brand’s purpose. Our research reveals that a strong purpose can deliver returns in multiple areas: you can generate strong consumer demand, increase loyalty among your employees, and improve financial performance. As a result, brands that have made a high commitment to a purpose have seen their brand value grow at more than 2x as fast as the average brand.
As with brand positioning, authenticity is important in the realm of purpose. Purpose is not synonymous with mission – here, we are talking explicitly about the positive impact that your brand has on people and communities.
When building your purpose, you should choose something strategic and not completely disconnected from your brand; above all else, do not exploit social issues. Purpose works best when your brand equity strategies work in conjunction with your customer experience initiatives – at their intersection, you can identify what is authentic to your brand, where you have a license to play, and where you can find white space into which your brand story can expand.
Cracking the code on the language of emotion
The end goal of a sustainable and scalable brand strategy is to build a brand that is irresistible, one that has such strong magnetism that new customers are inherently drawn to it and existing ones don’t want to part ways with it. It’s about creating desire in the moments that matter and laddering these moments up to brand love. When you build holistic strategies to guide your brand, keep your customers at the center of your decisions, articulate your purpose, and activate against the moments that matter most to consumers, you’ll find brand love right within reach.