Article

Louise Findlay-Wilson
Louise Findlay-Wilson 27 July 2021

What’s Love Got to Do With it?

It takes an awful lot for a brand to be not just liked but loved. According to the research in our Brand Love report, loved brands aren’t necessarily the most innovative - just one in 10 marketers think that matters. Love also isn’t about value for money, nor customer support. Sure, these factors count if a brand wants to be great, but they don’t make it loved.

Instead, our research suggests that to have a loved brand you need to fulfil one or more of the following key criteria. You must have values which are in sync with the customer’s values (55%). You need to fit with the consumer’s identity (38%). Lastly, loved brands are part of someone’s life (42%). 

This is pretty intimate stuff, and not easy to pull off. No surprise then that only a few brands achieve the accolade of being loved. Indeed 49% of those studied couldn’t think of a brand they loved in this way.

As you would expect, among those who could, a great variety of brands were name-checked. Many of these were relatively small, obscure gems. However, a few brands were mentioned several times. These repeatedly loved brands included:

Apple
Nike
Adidas
Sky
Samsung
L’Oréal
Amazon
e.on
Morrisons
ASDA

So how have these brands managed to go that extra mile and become loved? And what can the rest of us learn from them. To answer this let’s take a look at four of them.

Morrisons – Life and Values

It’s easy to see how a food retailer becomes part of its customers lives, but Morrisons’ loved status seems to be derived from its values which are showcased right across the business. 

The UK’s fourth largest grocer doesn’t just ‘do’ retail it also has 18 manufacturing sites, bakeries, abattoirs, fishing fleets and egg farms. Indeed it is the UK’s 2nd largest fresh food manufacturer, producing all kinds of food - from freshly baked bread and seafood to fresh produce, chilled foods and meat products.  

Despite this size and diversity, the business sees itself as a family and when people join, either in store or on their farms, they are welcomed “into the family”. It’s easy to see how this family feel fits with people doing a family shop. 

The company also seems to chime with the values of ethical shoppers. It has trumpeted no waste, sustainability for some time and has operated endless initiatives for disadvantaged families during lockdown, but in an unshowy way. It feels ‘decent’. An old fashioned but powerful word.

For people offered an array of food retail brands – from the budget-conscious Aldi through to the high-end Waitrose, Morrisons seems to have smartly carved out a niche reflecting the life and values of a chunk of customers. No mean feat!

Apple – Identity

It’s very difficult for a brand which has successfully occupied a niche to go mass market without losing its original fans. But Apple has pulled it off. Apple’s roots were as the tech for ‘creatives’ – photographers, designers, ad people, musicians, those in the media. The brand took care to play to these audiences’ sense of creative identity by looking (and feeling) lovely to use. A smart, well designed choice.

Leap forward several decades and even as Apple has moved mass market through iPhones and TVs, it has held onto its strong design credentials, so as not to alienate its original advocates. 

Samsung - Lifestyle

Samsung fights in a similar space to Apple but has won love not by playing to the customers’ sense of self-image, but more by understanding their day-to-day lives. The company recognises that people will integrate the brand into their lives if its tech is reliable and useful. So longer lasting batteries and bigger screens have followed.

This desire to be reliable and useful has also driven the company’s approach to service. For instance, Samsung’s internal motto for service is apparently “Done plus one”. With Samsung not only is the problem solved, but employees are empowered and are encouraged to go above and beyond.

It’s not just customers who are encouraged to love the brand. Samsung has ensured its tech is integral to its employees' lives. For instance it lets employees, especially those in service areas, use Samsung products for personal use. The idea is that employees, fuelled by their own love for the brand, will relate that role to customers. Spreading the word, and the love.

Adidas – Identity

Part of the love for the Adidas brand is rooted in identity. As the older of the sportswear brands, Adidas has played heavily on its history. The iconic Jesse Owens wore Adidas founder Adolf 'Adi' Dassler's custom-fitted spiked shoes when he won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. While in the 70s Adidas created the white tennis shoe for and thus named after Stan Smith.

This association between the brand and its role in iconic sporting moments or personalities has given the brand a ‘cool’ vintage, classic feel which really speaks to people who have (or want to have) these elements within their own self-image. 

Like all smart brands, Adidas recognises what makes it loved and has carefully preserved and amplified this, without becoming a museum piece. For instance, Adidas savvily recreated its classic “historical” shoe models, which were made popular in the 70s and 80s, but using modern, high-performance materials – a nod to both vintage collectors and Millennials and Gen Z consumers. 

Conclusion

As these examples show, brand love is not achieved by chance nor overnight. It’s the result of careful, committed, and constant effort. Loved brands have a clear set of values, they understand their customer’s identity and the role they can play in their lives. They then invest for the long term to deliver against this promise.

It’s not for the fainthearted, but then again, no real love is!

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