Brands That Love

Love is one of the most powerful emotions in business because of its ability to compel action. Smart companies use this to their advantage. Whether they show love by giving back, fulfilling customer needs or saying sorry when something goes wrong, the best brands know that showing love is good for business.

Love is one of the most powerful emotions in business because of its ability to compel action. Smart companies use this to their advantage. Whether they show love by giving back, fulfilling customer needs or saying sorry when something goes wrong, the best brands know that showing love is good for business.

Words are important.

They express our thoughts and feelings. In communications and marketing, we spend a lot of time using words. (Obviously.)

Think about it: names, slogans, catch-phrases and jingles are all just words—perfectly curated and strung together to make a message memorable. While many brands spend copious amounts of time and money on the words they say to their audiences, it’s important to remember what people are saying back. And there’s one word in particular that stands out above the rest. One word that every brand wants to hear:


Yes, every brand wants to hear that they are loved by consumers. But beyond being loved, showing love is what sells a brand. We’ve seen many companies fail to keep their customers because they’ve tried too much to be a corporation. They want people to buy from them for life, to be loyal and stick with them always. But what’s the message they’re sending out? Buy, buy, buy. It’s a one-sided relationship. Successful brands do more. They can’t just show up. If they want customers to fall in love with them, they have to try. They have to be a loving brand. Here’s how:

Be caring.

There’s a reason why people love IKEA despite its reputation for lacklustre instruction manuals and argument-inducing stores. The Swedish furniture company shows it cares by doing its research. Before entering in a new market or country, IKEA representatives conduct home visits to talk to potential customers about their wants, needs, ways of life and preferred shopping methods. This process explains why you’ll find deeper drawers in their furniture in America than Italy, and why untreated pine wood is often used in India to protect items from the humidity. Making sure its products reflect customer needs shows that IKEA not only values feedback, but also genuinely cares about making their customers’ lives easier.

Be happy.

The world isn’t lacking for bad news, bad moods or bad vibes. Let your brand stand out: be happy. From the start, Coca-Cola positioned itself as a pathway to happiness. Ice-cold Sunshine. The Pause That Refreshes. Things Go Better with Coke. Open Happiness. These are just some of the slogans the soda company has used over the years. Choosing to promote a feeling instead of a product is a subtle yet effective strategy that many overlook. Coke makes consumers believe that the beverage brand has their best interest at heart because it encourages—and associates its product with—happiness. And that builds trust. The strategy has proven successful. A California-based think tank conducted a survey to examine brand relationships among consumers. Coca-Cola did not receive a single negative remark. Everybody loved it.

Be generous.

More than generations past, millennials (born 1981 – 1996) and Gen Z (born 1995 – 2012) are putting pressure on their favourite brands to care about something more than turning a profit. Recent studies show that nine in ten millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause. And 40 percent of Gen Z consumers said they have boycotted a brand that behaved in a way that didn’t align with their values.

Toms has been in business for 13 years and, during that time, has been at the forefront of the philanthropic consumerism movement that is sweeping across North America. The company is famous for its One-for-One business model. For every shoe purchased, Toms donated a pair to someone in need. Since 2006, it has given away more than 95 million pairs of shoes. Now, in a recent shift, Toms is promising to dedicate at least one-third of its net-profit to a giving fund. Toms’ mission of supporting others and its willingness to give to the less fortunate is largely the reason it has remained so popular over the years.

Be genuine.

No one likes a catfish (someone who seems one way online and is completely different in person.) Just ask Away. The millennial luggage company lured in new customers with chic designs, a direct-to-consumer business model and reasonable prices. And in popular fashion, its website makes promises of an affirming and healthy company culture with positive local and national impact. It describes itself as “a great business” that was built to have a positive impact “from the way [it] designs products to the way [it] connects communities.”

But an exposé published by multi-media news website The Verge revealed a toxic company culture perpetuated by founder and CEO Steph Korey. Away sold dreams of a luxury lifestyle but the reality was far from realized in its offices. Away’s image wasn’t genuine, and the company faced huge backlash on social media. In response, Korey stepped down as CEO of her company.

Be loyal.

Brand loyalty is a two-way street. To gain the loyalty of your customers, you must first be loyal to them. Prove to your customers that they are important to you. Show them your brand is evolving every day because they are a part of it. Take Apple for example. Since its inception, the tech company has had a cult-like following of devoted customers. A notoriously sophisticated design may be part of its success, but design is nothing without utility. Apple builds machines that satisfy people’s needs.

The tech company constantly seeks feedback and engages in conversations with customers about new products. People want easy integration with other devices, technology support, speed and security. Apple has become intentional about implementing these features in their products and stores. And since Apple is loyal to its customers needs, customers are loyal in return. They trust that whatever Apple releases will improve their lives in some way, shape or form—whether it’s the way they collaborate, communicate or consume new information. That’s why consumers will continue to line up to buy the latest and greatest product as soon as it hits the market.

Be apologetic.

As your company grows and changes, things will go wrong, it’s bound to happen. While best to avoid mistakes in the first place, it’s equally—arguably more—important to respond properly when things do go wrong.

There are many examples of companies that have failed in the execution of an apology. It’s something of an epidemic in the industry (Pepsi, Facebook, United Airlines). But KFC is one that did it right. Customers were upset enough to call the police when more than half of the restaurant’s British locations ran out of chicken due to delivery issues. KFC’s response? Take out a full-page ad in two major British newspapers in which the brand rearranged its famous three letters to spell FCK. The anagram was accompanied by a short, heart-felt explanation and apology. The customer’s reaction? Overwhelmingly positive. Some were even impressed.

Let love out.

Good brands conduct good business. But smart brands know it takes more than that to be successful. Love has proven itself a powerful driver of action, time and again. Learn how to leverage it to help last the long haul. And if your brand isn’t feeling loved yet, do an internal check. Don’t overlook the importance of doing the small things well. They can make all the difference in becoming the next big brand that everyone loves.