What does it mean for a brand to make the consumer the center of its world? Does it produce what its audience needs? Bend to the intensity of demand? Does going so far as sharing its name with loyal followers make people feel like they are receiving a brand’s attention?
“People bring their own context and values to Lovemarks. The principle that consumers own Lovemarks is fundamental. Brands only exist in people’s heads, so it is their idea of what a brand is that matters, not ours. Our job is to understand this, and work with it. If we can explore people’s own realities rather than trying to make them understand things they will never believe, then we can move brands forward.” –The Lovemarks Effect: Winning in the Consumer Revolution (powerHouse Books, 2007)
Like any relationship, the act of purely delivering what the other person asks for does not determine a loving partnership. If we take Robert Strenberg’s triangular theory of love (1986) into consideration, love relationships are comprised of intimacy (closeness, caring and emotional support), passion (emotional and physiological arousal) and commitment. This is very much reflected in the Intimacy and Sensuality components that create Lovemarks.
A brand can create products that people need but it will lose market share to a competitor that gives more than its consumer base could ever have dreamt of. Microsoft and Apple is a classic example. So are traditional gas guzzlers vs hybrid cars. Short term token gestures may spike feelings of love for a brand, but the intensity will fizzle out once the consumer realizes that the loving feeling is unsustainable.
Here are five ideas for how brands can create Intimacy:
- Strike out the phrase “I hear what you say.” The key to Intimacy is listen, listen, listen and act.
- Live in her world. The special sense of belonging that Intimacy brings is created by revelation, not explanation.
- Love yourself. It may sound cliché but it’s hard for consumers to love your brand if you don’t feel like it’s worth the effort. Enthusiasm is infectious.
- Provide meaningful choices. Customization may be the trend these days but too many options can cause paralysis in decision making.
- Identify the stories and language at drives your brand and share them.