To have and to hold

Katie Jones shares the key findings from our recent ‘Brand Love’ event held in Leeds…

The drinks were flowing, balloons were popping and the nibbles were all devoured; our latest event in Leeds last Thursday night was a huge hit!  As well as being a great excuse for a knees-up, the evening had an intellectual twist, with talks exploring the subject of brand love, concentrating specifically on the emotional side, the practice of semiotics to keep the brand flame alive and the use of technology to measure emotional response.  There was lots of healthy debate on the night and it was great to catch up with familiar and new faces.

But, what do we actually mean by brand love and how can it be achieved?  According to Saatchi & Saatchi, it is: “When brands engage consumers’ deepest emotions – instead of just appealing to their intellects, or even their basic instincts – they win in the marketplace.  These brands win because their customers don’t just respect them; they love them.” Our research into the subject and the debate on the night have drawn our attention to a number of key learnings:

“Look at a brand relationship as you would an actual relationship”

We don’t just consume or interact with brands, we actually engage in relationships with them, and these relationships have natural stages.  From the first date, the glorious honeymoon period, to keeping the spark alive and, sadly for some, the end of the relationship.  Humans are powered by emotion, not by reason so brands needs to connect with consumers on this level.  Brands that have deep and meaningful connections are the ones that succeed.  And if consumers become loyal beyond reason there is nothing that they wouldn’t do to have and to protect the brand.

“Love must speak and listen to be kept alive”

As in all relationships people and brands can change, relationships can become stagnant and things can ultimately fizzle out.  So, how can a brand ensure that the spark is kept alive and that they don’t just become a fad or get shifted to the ‘friend zone’?  One solution is to ensure that there is a two-way conversation.  Keeping close to consumers and understanding their changing needs can help a brand to ensure it continues to satisfy its consumers.  Innovation and rejuvenation are important in achieving this and research plays an important role in ensuring the end brand still resonates.

“Embrace your failings and new opportunities open up”

Sometimes brands make mistakes – changes and innovation can jar with consumers or a crisis can threaten a brand’s reputation.  Careful handling of such situations can mean that all is not lost – you might just ‘be on a break’ and the relationship might resume as normal.  Owning up to mistakes, having transparency with consumers and a consumer focused action plan can go a long way to repairing the damage.

“The opposite of love is indifference”

The opposite of brand love is not hate but indifference!  In these instances instead of expressing hate for a brand, consumers will say that the brand isn’t right for them, disappoints them or it is boring. This will consequently mean they avoid engaging with or talking about them.  Brands which people are indifferent to are viewed as nothing more than a product and evoke limited love and respect.

“Love and emotions can be difficult to express”

It can be difficult for some people to express how they feel about a brand, product or communication; they might not have the words to express themselves or they may be unaware of how they truly feel.  The use of technology such as Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), which measures changes in emotion via the perspiration levels on the skin, can help to measure emotional responses to stimulus and to key moments of engagement for consumers.  Used alongside more traditional research methodologies, these key moments of engagement and peaks in arousal can be used to help consumers realise their emotions and voice their opinions.

If you’d like to know more about our views on brand love or simply have a question for us please get in touch with Katie on 0113 388 8423 or at Katie.jones@optimisaresearch.com