What’s Love Got to Do with It? Satisfaction, Surprise & Delight

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There’s been a lot of rather liberal use of the word LOVE recently in connection with brands 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 brands are loved by their customers. Sorry Mr Roberts et al, I personally don’t think consumers love brands. 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 branding 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, brands 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 demands of consumers today and the holy grail of brands. 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 brand love, that of personal investment. As I already mentioned, I believe that customers love themselves first and will only invest in brands if they get something out of the relationship in return. That is the part of the bonding that too many brands 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 branding 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 brands struggle to incorporate into their online presence in a meaningful way, so let’s see how the top brands do it.

TwitterFirst, taking a look at Twitter’s list of the Top 20 most followed brands for 2013 we can see that involvement (in this case following) is triggered by one of four simple customer needs:

  • 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 brands 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 brand 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 brand, although of course they do include their product names when relevant.

Chatting for customer service connectionThe relationship between brands 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.

FacebookAnother platform that brands use to connect with their customers is Facebook. Brands 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 brands present amongst the most popular. These brands 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, brands should understand 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 brands which succeed online are without exception those that offer all of these, as the following table shows:

Brand

Content

10 NBA videos, commentary, photos, merchandise
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 understand 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 brand 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.  

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Denyse Drummond-Dunn
Denyse is the Creator of the Quantum Customer Centricity Model. QC2™ is the New CX for companies wanting to find atomic steps that deliver quantum results, by attracting, delighting & retaining more customers. Denyse is Nestle’s former Global Head of Consumer Excellence and has >30 yrs’ experience as a Speaker, Advisor and Best-selling Author. She delivers inspiring keynotes, motivational talks and actionable training. Her global business consultancy, C3Centricity, has expertise in over 125 countries! Check out her website to connect & find solutions to your current challenges.

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