What’s love got to do with it?


Brand love is the ultimate achievement, right? In his Lovemarks model, Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi states that ‘brands are running out of juice’ and that ‘love is what is needed to rescue them’. Kevin Duncan, a revered marketer, sums Roberts’ concept up in one simple sentence; “Creating loyalty beyond reason requires emotional connections that generate the highest levels of love and respect for your brand”. Interesting view points, but how relevant is it, really, for consumers today?

Is it really love that brands should be striving to achieve? How attainable (and then sustainable) is it to have the control we want over the object of our desires (in the case of marketers, these will be target consumers) when the reality is that we can’t always shape the way people feel about us.

Having spent years conducting qualitative research; watching, listening and understanding individuals, it is clear to us (now, more than ever) that there are relationships consumers are prepared to have with brands, but very few of them directly equate to love.

Rather than expecting consumers to simply fall in love with a brand and what it has to offer, it’s important to think about the values that it can deliver and find the right ways to ignite the most relevant emotions for the relationship consumers want – then frame brand strategy, communications and NPD around this.

At the Festival of Marketing (November 2015), Nigel Gilbert, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for TSB shared a nugget of insight that has fuelled the strategy for a revitalised brand: “To be truly value-led, you have to listen to and understand what people think and say about you. Being a brand with values can truly drive growth, loyalty and advocacy.”

At Engage Research, we thrive on exploring and challenging human behaviour. To reveal hidden truths in terms of experience and expectations of brand connection, we take a step back to understand the individual as a whole. Who do they hold close (or avoid), when it comes to interpersonal relationships? What do they hold of most value with each connection built? What makes a best friend, a confident, a lover or a parent?

We then apply enabling techniques across a host of qualitative methods that have been honed in years of experience and informed through the rich learnings of behavioural economics that enable consumers to connect to the deep-set, unconscious values attributed to brands.

We believe that as much should be done in ‘real time’ as possible to capture the context in which a connection is made or re-engaged and the ‘magic’ that ensues.

So is it love? Probably not. But does understanding your brand values drive consumer commitment and engagement? Absolutely.

Author: Hazel Haskayne (

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