Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A love affair with stuff

My weekly book post on s+b's blogs explains why consultant and author Tim Halloran thinks it’s time to inject some romance into brand marketing.

How’s Your Brand’s Love Life?

Cupid is coming this week. Stores have heart-shaped boxes of chocolates stacked to the ceilings and the price of roses has trebled. But here’s what I’m wondering: Will your brands be getting any love on Valentine’s Day?

This question came to mind after I read the new book by Brand Illumination president Tim Halloran, Romancing the Brand: How Brands Create Strong, Intimate Relationships with Consumers (Jossey-Bass, 2014). Halloran begins the book with a story from his time as a brand manager at Coca-Cola. He was watching a focus group through a two-way mirror when a member of the group, a woman in her late 20s, held up a can of soda.

“I drink eight of these a day,” she said. “It is always with me, no matter what happens. It was there when my boss gave me my promotion last week. It was at my side two months ago when my cat died. It got me through it. I start and end my day with it. It’s never let me down. I can always count on it. To sum it up, it’s my boyfriend…Diet Coke.”

Leaving the health considerations aside (my doctor’s head would explode if I told her I drank that much of any kind of soda), this consumer’s relationship with a brand is clearly based on more than a cost-benefit analysis. “This was preposterous, wasn’t it?” writes Halloran. “We can’t connect with products the same way we connect with people!”

But of course we can. Research by academics like Jennifer Aaker and Susan Fournier suggests that brands can have personalities, and consumers can have highly emotional relationships with them just like they might with a significant other. In Romancing the Brand, Halloran explains how marketers can create such a relationship using an eight-stage approach that starts with “know yourself” and ends with “breaking up and moving on.”

This sounds like it has some Svengali-esque potential to me. So, I asked the author whether his book could be used as a pickup manual by manipulative marketers... read his answer here.

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