When it comes to the concept of brand love, there are two distinct camps. Helen Edwards, columnist for Marketing Week and brand consultant, describes the first as individuals who believe brands have an emotional role to play in people’s lives. The second question its very existence.
For Helen, the issue is around language. “Love is a really short word but it is a huge one. With those four letters, we seek to articulate the most profound, the most mysterious, but one of the most desirable emotions of the human condition,” she says. Speaking during a ITV and APG-hosted event, called Eat Your Greens! The Power of Emotion, Creativity and Cabbage, she questioned whether love should even be considered in a brand setting, and instead kept sacred for people we care about most deeply.
“Love can justifiably extend to religion or country, but brands? Are they really up to bearing the weight of such a word?”, she says. For Helen, the answer, on the whole, is ‘no’. “While there are always going to be a few consumers out there, a few zealots, who are going to confess an enduring love for a brand, I would suggest that they are few and far between,” she says. She describes brand love as an “exaggeration” and an overstatement”, but does believe there is an “emotional something” between brands.
To explain, she cited a recent study within the Journal of Consumer Research which tested the concept of brand love by asking participants to put their hands in an ice bucket. One half of the group were then shown logos of their favourite brands, and the others were shown an image of a chair. The individuals presented with logos said they felt less pain than the other set, suggesting that there is a physical connection between consumers and brands, even if that closeness doesn’t extend as far as love.
For Helen, brands contribute to people forming their identities and “help us reassure ourselves that we are the person we want to be”. When it comes to the brands we’re loyal to, she says “we don’t just buy, we kind of join.”
These brands become part of who we are, and aiming for this loyalty is something that marketers should aim towards.
Love should be used to describe the strongest connections, i.e. between people
The issue with brand love is language
People can have an emotional connection with brands
Brands help us define who we are as a person