What words come to mind to describe the brands that really matter to you? There are lists of most trusted brands. Most admired. Most valuable. Most innovative.

How about love and intimacy? Do you associate those sentiments with brands? They’re relevant too, and come to mind given it’s Valentine’s Day this week.

Brand rankings come out all the time. Ipsos and the Association of Canadian Advertisers, in partnership with Publicis, recently released one of theirs: the top 10 most influential brands in Canada. From 1 to 10, the list includes Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube, Visa, Netflix, Walmart and Tim Hortons.

What do they have in common?

The brand study noted the frequency with which consumers engage with these products, services and companies. It’s daily (and multiple times a day) in many cases. Beyond seeing brands as important and relevant, the study says we have an emotional reaction to these entities and can’t imagine living our life without them.

Sounds like love.

Fast Company once wrote about cracking the code on brands we love. They said such brands have three building blocks. Call them help, expectation and observation. These brands are routinely useful, meet defined wants and needs, and remain connected and responsive. Lay these attributes over each other in a diagram, and you get three more qualities, says Fast Company: anticipation, initiative and insight.

If a brand has all that, it’s easier to love. Those aren’t the only ingredients.

Last year Oath (now Verizon Media), introduced a brand love index. The company worked with Kantar Consulting to analyze data from more than 150,000 consumers in 13 countries, all to define the drivers of brand love. Across industries, six behaviours mean the most:

  • Exceed needs – give people what they want before they ask.
  • Build trust – get personal and show you really know the customer.
  • Set trends – rethink every touchpoint.
  • Share values – establish and act on core beliefs, to create a genuine connection.
  • Elevate experiences – make every interaction more creative, thoughtful and impactful.
  • Respect consumers – consistently demonstrate fairness and reliability.

Think of how some of these words could also describe what you desire in a personal relationship.

Brand love is one thing; what’s even closer?

Last summer, The Marketing Journal ran an interview with Mario Natarelli, a partner at the MBLM agency. Natarelli co-wrote a book called Brand Intimacy. In the interview, he suggested that 90% of decisions are based on emotion, so brands that do well today are the ones that touch our emotions.

Brand intimacy parallels human intimacy,” he says. “The steps are similar, the processes are the same, and the outcomes aligned.”

Natarelli says he frames his model around psychologist Erik Erikson’s definition of intimacy: “The ability to fuse your identity with someone else’s without the fear that you’re going to lose something yourself.”

His brand intimacy model refers to similar notions as the brand love index. Fulfill the customer. Make their life easier. Become a vitally important part of their daily lives (more than a habit). Pamper the customer with a sense of indulgence.

Could a retailer, search engine, social media platform or coffee shop be your significant other? Maybe you owe each other a Valentine’s Day card. Not quite romantic. But think of which brands hit on all those love and intimacy qualities. Seems like a winning formula to capture your heart – and your wallet.

Stuart Foxman is a Toronto-based freelance writer, who helps clients’ products, services, ideas and organizations to come alive. Follow me on Twitter @StuartFoxmanconnect with me here on LinkedIn, or check me out at foxmancommunications.com. I would love to hear from you. More articles like this coming, with original posts every week about communications, writing, branding, creativity, media, marketing, persuasion, messages, etc., etc.

February 13, 2019

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