Think back clearly to your childhood. What particular items or brands stand out that you still remember fondly? Now think about your current lifestyle. What products or companies are you extremely loyal to? Ask yourself why that is.
We all have brands that we adore for a variety of reasons, whether it be extraordinary products, memorable marketing or top-notch customer service. We become drawn to it, and if they are consistent in their image we remain in brand love.
The Unsurprising Benefits of Brand Love
According to Josh Zywien, that sense of “love” can be defined by the ways a particular brand makes you feel more engaged, upbeat, and warmhearted.
Those tangible feelings constitute just one of the psychological pillars that encapsulate brand admiration—a new concept introduced by marketing researchers C. Whan Park, Deborah J. MacInnis, and Andreas B. Eisingerich in their forthcoming book, Brand Admiration: The Exponential Effect of Brand Love, Trust, and Respect.
In that book, the authors share findings from years of research that confirm an interesting—if unsurprising—truth: Brands that manage to evoke senses of warmth, empathy, and gratitude (psychological attributes generally associated with love) create connections with people that can yield very powerful competitive advantages.
Specifically, beloved brands often benefit from…
- A higher tolerance for mistakes or product failure
- Faster adoption of new products or services
- Stronger and more organic customer loyalty and advocacy
- More engaged, inspired, and fulfilled employees
- A more diverse and more talented pool of prospective employees
Very simply: when a brand is loved, its relationship with the people who adore it becomes rooted in symbiotic mutualism—a state in which two different parties directly benefit from (and thrive off of) the actions of each other.
A great example of a beloved brand is Trader Joe’s, the popular California-based grocery chain.
Unlike most grocery stores, Trader Joe’s prides itself on an experience that feels more like a food discovery adventure than a traditional grocery shopping trip. Employees roam the aisles to help customers discover new items and share recipe ideas. The business sends out a monthly direct-mail newsletter—the “Fearless Flyer”—that tells the story behind new products in a fun, whimsical way. And the checkout process feels friendly, intimate, and personal—a result, in part, of the company’s commitment to paying every employee a living wage.
Those efforts don’t go unnoticed by customers. From 2012 to 2015, Trader Joe’s was named America’s favorite grocery store. And, in 2014, one report found that Trader Joe’s sold an average of $1,734 per square foot, a number that dwarfs one of its biggest competitors: Whole Foods, which averages sales of $390 per square foot.
How Can Your Brand Cultivate and Foster Unconditional Love?
According to the article, very simply it starts with identifying the specific brand attributes that define you and which will serve as the fuel for transformative business results. More tangibly, your goal should be to look for opportunities to…
- Stimulate the senses and the mind: The more you can enhance sensory and cognitive stimulation (as is the case with Trader Joe’s), the better your chances are of developing deep feelings of mutual love among stakeholders.
- Warm the heart: When your brand evokes feelings of warmth, gratitude, and empathy, people respond in kind with feelings of commitment, loyalty, and advocacy.
Ultimately, your brand has something that makes…
- People want to work for it
- Customers buy from it
- Partners want to do business with it
Success happens when your entire team is on the same page and when the principles behind brand admiration—including brand love—are infused throughout your organization.
The Harvard Business Review details the eight phases of brand love for further reading. Brand love is powerful, so cultivate your brand energy accordingly to avoid heart ache.