There’s been a lot of rather liberal use of the word LOVE recently in connection with br ands and their customers. Perhaps this was partly due to the lead up to Valentine’s Day last week.
But ever since Lovemarks was published in 2004, followed by The Lovemarks Effect and more recently Loveworks, companies have talked about how much br ands are loved by their customers. Sorry Mr Roberts et al, I personally don’t think consumers love br ands. Consumers may say they love you but I think that they really just love themselves! (>>Click to Tweet<<)
Whilst I agree with the premise that traditional br anding practices were (still are?) generally dull, boring and rather predictable, digital has certainly livened things up in the last ten years. With greater real-time visibility, br ands are constantly trying to out-do each other and luckily the customer has everything to gain from this. After all, surprise and delight are the fundamental dem ands of consumers today and the holy grail of br ands. However from attracting interest to inspiring love, that’s one heck of a jump!
Wikipedia defines love in many different ways, because the English language doesn’t distinguish between the levels of love that other languages do. The closest I could find to the emotional connection Kevin Roberts was referring to, was impersonal love described as “People can “love” material objects, animals, or activities if they invest themselves in bonding or otherwise identifying with those things”. This definition points out a very important element of br and love, that of personal investment. As I already mentioned, I believe that customers love themselves first and will only invest in br ands if they get something out of the relationship in return. That is the part of the bonding that too many br ands seem to forget when developing online advertising, fan pages and social media exchanges. It’s as if they publish and then say “Love (Like) me I’m great”, when they should be saying “We love you, you’re great”.
In 2004 Kevin Roberts introduced the notion of emotions to br anding and I believe everyone today agrees that purchasing involves an emotional response, often even stronger than rational based decision making. This is the one essential element that some br ands struggle to incorporate into their online presence in a meaningful way, so let’s see how the top br ands do it.
- Entertainment: YouTube, Instagram, TwitPic, Funny Or Die, MTV, Ramalan Indonesia, funnyordie, UberSocial
- Keeping up with your friends: Twitter, Facebook
- Keeping up with the world: CNN Breaking News , CNN, The New York Times, BBC Breaking News, Google
- Keeping up with your team: FC Barcelona, Real Madrid F.C., NBA, ESPN
Interestingly, the br ands in this top 20 all provide a service to people, rather than blatantly looking for love, although they have been successful in bonding with their followers. Also, the only consumer br and to make it onto the list came in at number 20, namely Samsung Mobile. However their tweets are actually more like those of the news channels than a manufacturer promoting their br and, although of course they do include their product names when relevant.
The relationship between br ands and their followers is one of need (>>Click to Tweet<<); the Tweets provide customers with information they can use or share with their friends. In addition, for many, Twitter has become the modern day customer service line, since they are assured a more rapid response and usually a more positive conclusion than through a simple telephone based connection. Whilst excellent customer service should be the delivery no matter which medium customers choose to use, we have all now understood that they are not created equally. We know that telephone-based customer service still exists, but we just don’t get the fast, efficient level of assistance that we desire anymore, and are moving away from its usage.
As a result organisations are very keen to improve the service they give via Twitter and use it not only to respond to customer comments, but also to involve their customers in improving their products and services, as well as to keep them abreast of launches, new campaigns and promotions.
Another platform that br ands use to connect with their customers is Facebook. Br ands create pages and encourage “Likes” for their postings, which seem to have similar purposes to Twitter, albeit with a more generous allowance than the 140 characters of a Tweet.
Looking at the pages with the most fans, we find a similarity to Twitter in terms of content and also a few of the same companies (NBA, MTV) but there are more consumer br ands present amongst the most popular. These br ands are promoting themselves through similar types of content, entertainment and news, but the biggest difference is the possibility for customers to reap direct benefit through coupons, promotions, store information and free games. In addition, customers can usually provide content too, by uploading their own photos, videos and stories.
So coming back to my original question, br ands should underst and that customers’ love can be as short lived as a holiday romance. As with marriage, it takes consistent effort to maintain the connection, providing satisfaction, surprise and delight in almost equal proportions. The br ands which succeed online are without exception those that offer all of these, as the following table shows:
|10||NBA||videos, commentary, photos, merch andise|
|9||McDonald’s||games, prizes, promotions, news,|
|8||Monster Energy||extreme-sports clips, news, events|
|7||Victoria’s Secret||exclusive updates, videos, screen wallpaper doubled its talking about me score when it started giving away 100k gift cards to fans, electronic gift cards|
|6||Converse||photos of unique shoes|
|5||Red Bull||mix of humour, extreme sports, events, images, games & apps|
|4||Starbucks||photos, store locator, electronic gift cards, manage rewards, challenges|
|3||MTV||sneak peeks of trailers, clips, humour, questions, photos, quizzes, information about pop stars|
|2||Disney||facts, film screenshots, cartoons, videos, quotes, photo & story sharing|
|1||Coca-Cola||encourages donations, local & global events & promotions, videos|
In conclusion, let me say that I am not suggesting that we forget love, but rather that we take off our rose-tinted spectacles and underst and that our customers don’t really love us; as with my two cats it’s just a matter of “cupboard love”!
Did you know that C³Centricity measures EMOTIONAL REACTIONS to advertising, packaging, new br and concepts, products and just about anything else a customer can see, hear, taste or feel? Interested in learning more? Then why not CONTACT US today for an informal chat about your needs? We’re sure we can help.