It must be love, brand love

It’s coming up to the big daddy Hallmark holiday of the year, Valentine’s Day, so it seemed appropriate to share some love.

Last week I talked about an SME brand that I like. There are a lot of brands that I like. I like what the organisations do and how they do it and that they stand for something.

There are also a few that I love. Not many, mind you, but a few. To anyone who reads this blog regularly you would recognise the names because I often use them as examples of what to do to build a brand – Toms, Patagonia, Apple…

How my like became love is harder to identify, and I think that is exactly where too many organisations go wrong, because, to quote a cheesy love song, “you can’t hurry love.” And when you try too hard to get me to love you before I’m ready, chances are it’s just not going to happen for us.

So how did my like become love?

There are a three things each one of the organisations did along the path from like to love:

  • They got my attention in the first place by standing for something that I also care about.
  • They were consistent.
  • They kept their promises.

Piece of (pink frosted with hearts) cake, right? Not so fast.

None of those things individually is easy. Put them together and you have a rigorous approach to what you do that is totally at odds with the whole touchy feely love thing.

Figuring out what you stand for is the foundation stone of it all, and this one shouldn’t be a surprise given how often I talk about finding a purpose. But underneath the purpose is the understanding that everyone is not your customer. Because for me to love a brand it has to speak to something that I care about in some way.

For example, that something might be “using business to solve big social problems” ala Toms Shoes (a brand I love), or it might be “lowest prices” ala Walmart (a brand I admire for their alignment but will never love). The point is that you can’t know what I care about. You can only present what you care about in the hope that I will too.

Which brings me to consistency. That something has got to be more than something you say. It has to show up in expected and unexpected places. It has to be embedded in what you do and how you do things. And yes that includes how you look and what you say. Because nothing will kill new love faster than fancy words that aren’t backed up by actions.

And of course lastly – you’ve got to keep your promises, preferably all of them. But because I love you and you’re human, if you stand for something I care about and are consistent in what you say and do then I’m sure we can get over the odd broken promise.

After all I never promised to love only you…

See you next week.

Michel is an independent brand advocate dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan.


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