Customers do not “love” your brand

Love heartsBrand experts love to tell us that we should aim to get people to “love” our brand. Indeed, they point out that brands like Apple or Coca-Cola are adored so much that the fans simply “love” them.  The legions of people standing outside an Apple Store the night before a new iPhone is launched seems testament to this. As does the notion that Coke fans believe they can tell the difference between their brand and a competing drink such as Pepsi.

Research, however, shows different. In blind taste tests, Coca-Cola “lovers” cannot spot their adored brand as easily as they think they can. Furthermore, many of the people queuing for the latest iPhone are not users of the Apple product; instead they stand there in line as a service to the iPhone user who so “loves” their brand they cannot be bothered to queue up themselves.

A new study looked at brand “love” in a novel way. The researchers from Germany tested the physical reactions of people to exposure to the brands they “loved” and compared the findings to seeing images of their romantic partners. It is well-known, for instance, that when you see a picture of your loved ones your heart beats a little faster, your body warms up a little, and you produce slightly more sweat.

The volunteers in this study did indeed show such expected reactions when they saw images of their romantic partners. But these physical effects were not demonstrated when the participants were shown images of the brands they declared their “love” for. The reactions to favoured brands were equivalent to seeing images of friends only.

The study also found that the reasons we “love” a brand are based on rational decisions, like an assessment of quality. Such rational decisions are absent in real “love” between romantic partners. This further emphasises the fact that people do not “love” brands after all.

What does this mean for your business? It suggests you are wasting your time trying to get people to love your brand. Instead, get them to focus on those rational attributes such as quality. Tell them all about those things, rather than trying to woo them. Customers cannot be wooed it seems.

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