While most of us can relate to what it’s like to fall in love with another person, we may not be great at articulating the process of it. It’s more of a feeling or an experience.
But even if we can’t always put our finger on how it happens, there are consistent triggers that help create those feelings.
And it turns out that there are a lot of similarities between those personal experiences and how we form deep affinity for brands.
This concept came up in a podcast between David Cancel, the CEO of Drift, and Rebecca Messina. Rebecca worked at Coca-Cola for over 20 years, was the first CMO of Uber, and is now a senior advisor at McKinsey.
Rebecca noted at one point in her time at Coca-Cola they hired the famous relationship expert, Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., to provide insights on how people fall in love.
The experience helped them clarify not just how their customers think but what sparks the feelings they have.
As Rebecca said about their insights, “We’re looking for consistency. Are you good looking? In the beginning that matters. What are your values? It’s all the same.”
At Map & Fire we describe a brand as a relationship between your business and your customers. We use tools to define how our business speaks (i.e. tone of voice) and what its characteristics are (i.e. brand archetypes).
All these frameworks support this same purpose. They get us in the mode of thinking about our business not as some abstract concept but as a physical being out in the world.
And more specifically, it’s a being that’s looking to create connections with other beings — potential customers.
Building off Rebecca’s quote, here are 6 ways you can help develop feelings of brand love with your audience.
1. Be Attractive
While good looks can’t sustain a relationship forever, there’s no doubt they play a big factor out of the gate.
Your brand is no different. You have precious few seconds to make a good first impression.
Without any thought or effort, your customers’ brains immediately go into pattern-matching mode. By tapping into the massive mental database of brand and marketing content they’ve consumed, customers can size you up instantly. Are you premium or budget? Modern or dated?
If customers don’t like what they first see it’s unlikely they’ll stick around to learn much more.
Your Brand Attractiveness Checklist:
- High quality imagery, in particular focusing on people
- Modern color palette
- Strong typography
- Thoughtful use of supporting graphics and iconography
2. Make Your Value Clear
Assuming you make it past the knee-jerk gauntlet of superficial attraction, the next phase is about the value you provide.
In personal relationships, this might be showing signs of intelligence, kindness, professional success, or financial stability.
With brands, it comes down to one simple question: “How will you make my life better?”.
There’s a lot to unpack within that, but in terms of initial attraction the focus needs to be on clarity of message. Do your marketing messages and visuals clearly articulate the important and unique value you offer?
Your Brand Value Checklist:
- Messaging about benefits vs. features
- Clear summary of your positioning
- Highlights of your experience and expertise
3. Express Your Values
As important as attraction and value are in a relationship, they still only get us to a first date.
To fall in love, we have to move beyond what you provide and think about how you provide it.
Your mission speaks to what your brand seeks to achieve. And your core values dictate how you’ll behave along the way.
But these elements aren’t something to just print up on a poster for the break room or post on the about page of your website.
These are the principles that guide how your business operates day-to-day.
Your customers shouldn’t need to read your list of core values. They should feel them in every point of interaction they have with your brand.
Your Brand Core Values Checklist:
- Definition of your core values
- Ensuring your team is clear about what those values mean
- Implementation of your values in things like your team’s onboarding and reviews
4. Act Consistently
For a loving relationship to last it needs a foundation built on trust. We have to believe that what someone says they’ll do, they actually do.
And while there are lots of signals to encourage trust with a brand through things like social proof and expressions of expertise, they only get cemented through consistent action.
One key form of consistency comes from your brand delivering the value it promises every time. This means your product or service lives up to what you claim it is.
But consistency also needs to come in the form of how you communicate and engage. Is your voice the same across all your marketing channels? Does your customer service always provide support at a high level?
When your customers experience those things consistently over time, it forms a strong bond of trust and a reason to love.
Your Brand Consistency Checklist:
- Alignment between your marketing and the value you deliver
- Applying the same voice across used in all your marketing channels
- Strong delivery of offerings and customer service
Relationships aren’t a one way street. Significant others don’t just want to hear what you want, they want to be heard as well.
The relationship with your customers is no different.
In order to create alignment with your customers you have to listen. Early and often.
That investment in listening is the only way to truly know if your brand effectively serves the most important needs of your customers. And as those needs shift, your brand needs to listen so that it can evolve alongside them.
Baking the art of listening into your DNA ensures you can grow that brand love for the long run.
Your Brand Listening Checklist:
6. Have A Sense Of Humor
Last, but not least, is humor. There are many reasons why we seek out people with a sense of humor in our relationships. It’s not only a sign of intelligence, it eases struggles and helps us get more joy out of life.
From a brand perspective, it can evoke a lot of those same feelings. It brings a level of humanity to your communication.
So many brands make the mistake of speaking in functional, almost robotic terms. They lean so far into clarity that it strips out all emotion.
Even a small dash of humor can help us build deeper, emotionally-connected relationships.
If you want to build a brand people love, showing that you’re smart and that you want to bring some happiness into your customers’ lives is a great place to start.
Your Brand Humor Checklist:
- Well-rounded brand tone of voice
- Humor incorporated into your overall marketing copy
- Specific humorous campaign concepts
Give Your Customers A Reason To Love Your Brand
In our personal lives, we sometimes think of love as a magical thing we have no control over. The stars have to align, the moment has to be perfect, and the chemistry has to be just right.
Luckily, in the business world it doesn’t need to be quite so mysterious.
You can’t guarantee a customer will love your brand but you can definitely make sure all the pieces are in place to give it the best shot possible.
By thinking about the type of relationship your customers want, you can greatly improve your odds of a long term match.
If your goal is to create loyal customers and grow your business, it’s worth the extra effort to kindle some of that brand love.
Get Help Building A Brand Customers Love
If you’re ready to build stronger connections with your customers, reach out for a free consultation. We’ll help you transform your best business thinking into an actionable, shareable, growth-oriented guide. Click below to learn more about the Brand Guidebook process.