Date Night or Date Life? The Most Beloved Brands Are in It for The Long Haul!

Talk to marriage experts and they’ll tell you one of the secrets of a long-lasting relationship is having a weekly date night with your mate – time to focus on each other like you did in the glory days of new love. I understand the thought behind this practice and it’s well-intentioned. I happen to think that you shouldn’t save all that emotional connection for one night of the week. I think a date life is much more significant in building bonds of trust and intimacy than a date night.  This applies to brands as well.

Are you hopelessly devoted to your customers? Or do you just think you are? This has nothing to do with the flowers and chocolate one day burst of affection that happens on Valentine’s Day, but everything to do with a long-term intentional interdisciplinary plan (with top management support) to show love and loyalty to your customers all year long.  Customers know if your affection is brief and fleeting or if you are in it for the long run. The best brands know that deep and meaningful customer relationships are built on trust and one considerate action after another. They value and express their gratitude to their customers in unique and thoughtful ways – just like you would towards your true friends, mates or family members.

Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Samsung, Sony, Google, Amazon, FitBit, Facebook and Walmart? What do you think these brands have in common?  Accenture Interactive recently named these companies the Most Loved Brands of 2016 in the US. No doubt, you have interacted with many of these brands – they are part of most Americans daily lives. But Accenture discovered something else that these brands share in common. They developed a LOVE Index and saw that they gained high marks on these 5 FRESH dimensions:

Fun: Holds people’s attention in an entertaining way
Relevant: Makes it easy to find clear and customized information
Engaging: Identifies with people’s needs and adapts to their expectations
Social: Helps people to connect with each other
Helpful: Is efficient, easy and adapts over time

It’s a good lens to view your brand through! This LOVE INDEX reminds me of the work Kevin Roberts pioneered years ago with his research and development of LOVEMARKS. “A LOVEMARK is a charismatic brand that people can’t live without,” he shared. “The fact is that LOVEMARKS are created and owned by the people who love them. Where you have a customer in love, you have a LOVEMARK,” Roberts declares. Brands that continually woo and wow new and existing customers exceed expectations and solve a problem for their customers.

Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen’s important axiom: “Your product (and I say, your brand!) has a job to do for your customer” has guided my creative branding and merchandising work with clients for years. He highlights the important lesson that beloved brands serve their customers by treating them as friends and doing amazingly useful things for them.

Recently, two brands that I love started campaigns to tell their customers just how much they appreciate them – and both had nothing to do with a one day event but everything to do with their internal brand ethos of truly making their customers top priority in all they do. I know because I’ve experienced their customer attentiveness first hand.

Nordstrom launched a campaign last fall letting their customers know just how much they appreciate their business by telling an evocative story using several dozen vignettes from real customers. Each customer featured a product they love from Nordstrom in their integrated multi-media event. The brilliant brand leaders at Nordstrom dedicated a main holiday catalog cover to this as well as digital and in-store space and even created a video showcasing employees singing “Thank you for being a FRIEND” to all their beloved customers.

SmartPak, the Zappos of the equestrian industry (and a brand I’ve had the honor of working with) also created a campaign this past fall – not with customers – but with employees  – as a giant thank you note of appreciation to their customers. Each department developed a creative blog that expressed how they take care of their customers’ needs each and every day and how they live out their brand mission of celebrating healthier horses and happier riders. Take apeek at how each department connected the best of what they had to give with what their customers’ needs: Sara Florin, VP Creative shared this campaign with me – a thoughtful, total brand encompassing touchpoint that lets the SmartPak tribe of equestrians know that their beloved brand is caring for their customers’ needs day in and day out.

This Valentine’s, inspired by these two exemplary brands, why not compose your own love letter to your customers in your own brand-centric fashion? Invest more deeply in long term relationships that keep things FRESH and keep your customers feeling beloved for a long date life! Your customers will LOVE you for it!

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