Building a Brand Based on Emotions: Love and Belonging

Relationship brands like Harley Davidson offer the perfect benchmark for building a brand based on the emotions of love and a sense of belonging. Harley Davidson surrounds consumers with branded experiences that can be shared with other brand loyalists. Harley Davidson merchandise, online communities, and clubs are just a few examples of how the brand has created a sense of love and belonging among consumers. It’s a brand strategy that your brand can implement, too.


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building a brand based on emotionDo you use a Mac or some other type of computer? What about an iPhone? Are you part of the Apple cult (where the word “cult” in the term “cult brand” is positive and means culture) or not? This is another great example of a brand that you wouldn’t immediately think could be a relationship brand that provides consumers with a sense of belonging. However, Apple has leveraged this strategy to achieve amazing success.

Whether you’re watching an old Mac Guy vs. PC Guy commercial or you stumble on the iTunes ad shown below, you know you’re part of a larger group of like-minded people when you choose an Apple product. At least that’s the perception that Apple wants to create in consumers’ minds, and so far, it’s working.

apple itunes banner adThe trick for marketers is determining how to make consumers feel loved and feel like they belong to a larger group. How do you turn a tech brand like Apple into a relationship brand with a strong sense of belonging?

It starts with market research that identifies how the brand fills gaps in consumers’ lives and how consumers experience the brand independently as well as with other people. Use open-ended, rating, and ranking questions to identify opportunities for your brand to begin creating a sense of community around your brand.

Today, the social web offers amazing opportunities to create a sense of love and belonging for brands. Online forums, Twitter tweet chats, Facebook Pages, and more give consumers ways to talk about the brand and experience it with other people. Whether online content, conversations, and communities are created by brands or by users, consumers have an opportunity using social media to share their experiences with the brand and make new experiences with each other.

Keep in mind, building a brand based on the emotion of love can also be extremely direct. The entire theme of an ad might be based on getting or receiving love. As you might expect, this type of message is used frequently in jewelry ads.

mcdonalds you deserve a break today adHowever, it could be used to evoke emotions related to a person’s sense of entitlement, too. Messages such as “love yourself” or “you deserve it” are popular for a wide variety of brands.

Most people remember the classic McDonald’s ad that told consumers, “You deserve a break today.” That campaign is a great example of how brands can create the perception in consumers’ minds that they deserve to do or buy something. In other words, love can come in the form of self-actualization and the value of oneself.

Evaluate how you can fill gaps related to love and a sense of belonging for your target audience, and you’ll be on your way to building your brand into a powerful relationship brand! Just be careful that you don’t let down the consumers who buy into your messages of love and belonging. Your brand must consistently meet their expectations or the emotional damage created when the brand fails to meet expectations could damage your brand in the long-term.

If you missed other parts of the ongoing Building a Brand Based on Emotions series, follow the links below to read them now:


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Images: Abdulaziz Almansour, Apple, McDonald’s

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and Marketing Communications Director for AYTM.com. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com.