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For brand success, consumers must fall in love

The Guardian // 30th July 2015

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “For brand success, consumers must fall in love” was written by Sharon Richey, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 29th July 2015 15.56 UTC

The marketing industry is awash with terms such as loyalty, trust and engagement. More recently, the word “love” has worked its way into our vocabulary. But can people really love a brand?

I say they can. Consumers have started to hold certain brands close to their hearts. I’m referring to those such as Apple, Disney and Lego, who pull out all the stops when it comes to engagement. In turn they’ve gained doting fans and soaring profits.

With such fierce competition between brands, consumers are in a position of power. Due to this abundance of choice, they are demanding much more in terms of engagement. Recent research found that 87% want meaningful interactions with brands, yet only 17% think brands are delivering.

People don’t just want products – they want something deeper. Sure, advertising creates awareness, but it’s live brand experiences that create strong emotional connections. Unlike awareness, you can’t buy love; it must be earned.

Nowadays, it’s all about fans who love a brand, not customers who simply like a brand. Customers need to be lured in; fans come by their own accord. We don’t call Disney advocates customers. They’re fans. That’s because emotion – joy, nostalgia or astonishment – has been attached through magical brand experiences.

People who love brands tend to be evangelical. They want to shout it from the rooftops, and that shouting is influential. In the 2015 Digital Dopamine Report, word of mouth was the top influencer for purchase decisions. Anyone in love should know that with love comes loyalty, which is valuable.

Being liked is easy; being loved is another thing altogether. Marketers should aim for meaningful relationships with fans based on trust, loyalty and honesty. But considering 70% of consumers believe brands’ motivations are based upon self-centred desires to increase profits, rather than on sincere commitments to their customers, there’s a way to go.

Sharon Richey is CEO of BEcause Brand Experience

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