Have you ever lived a love story with a brand? The one that takes your heart away makes you do everything for the beloved brand, admire everything that its digital marketing does, defend it against everything and everyone.
That is what happens when consumers fall in love with a love brand.
That is the way we call brands that transcend their commercial role. They become part of the life and personality of the consumers who identify themselves with what brands are and what they do.
They no longer make rational choices for either product. A love story, after all, has little rationality, doesn’t it?
But love also has a lot of reciprocity. The union only thrives as long as one loves the other. So, if the consumer loves a brand, they expect it to also reciprocate with actions that nurture this relationship.
Shall we learn what a love brand is and what makes people love a brand to the point of being blind to competitors?
Let’s understand this feeling together!
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What is a love brand?
A love brand is a brand that is loved by consumers and manages to create emotional bonds with them. They do it by transcending the traditional relationship that exists between company and customer.
A love brand is not just a company, a store, a product — it’s a representation of the values and beliefs with which the consumer identifies. Therefore, fans incorporate the brand into their personality and lifestyle.
This connection is so strong that they no longer have eyes for competitors and start to defend the brand tooth and nail.
Think of Harley Davidson, an emblematic example of a love brand. Those who buy a Harley don’t buy a motorcycle — they buy adventure and freedom on two wheels.
Fans may not be even your customers (as is often the case with love brands), but they like to show off and defend the brand. Some even tattoo it on their bodies! It’s a lot of love, isn’t it?
Branding generates this feeling. Brand management defines which image and positioning it wants to add to the consumers’ minds. With this definition, the brand consolidates its identity and achieves identification with people.
These are the ingredients to start a love story between the brand and the consumers who identify with it.
But this relationship depends on other ingredients to thrive. Brands that are loved must nurture the relationship with the consumer so they continue to realize the value of this relationship for their life.
That’s where marketing comes into play, with strategies that strengthen bonds, value fans and bring the brand closer to consumers.
What are the advantages of being a love brand?
Love is beautiful — but in the end, brands really want to do business. So how can consumers’ love for your brand make your business grow, increase sales, and have more opportunities?
Now, see the main benefits of being a love brand.
Consumers have more brand loyalty
Love brands do not succumb to competition. When the consumer creates an emotional relationship with a brand, it’s not simple to take them to a competitor.
The ties are strong. The consumer is always around, informed about the brand’s news, and willing to return at any time. Loyalty to the brand even forgives one or two mistakes in the name of the relationship.
Consumers don’t stick to a price
They say that love makes people blind. That explains why the love for a brand makes consumers disregard the price of products.
For them, the feeling that the relationship evokes is more important than that. Therefore, love brands can practice higher prices than their competitors and won’t stop selling to their fans because of that.
Consumers become brand advocates
Beloved brands are protected by their fans. They become true advocates whenever anyone dares to speak ill of their loved brand, especially in social media.
In times of brand crisis, they help to hold criticism and preserve its image.
Consumers become brand promoters
Fans not only defend their beloved brand but also promote it on their networks. They like to talk about it, discuss its benefits, show it off in their daily lives, and mention their actions.
They want to see the brand’s success and contribute to its growth!
The company attracts better talents
Professionals want to be part of building brands that are loved, successful and have a purpose with which they identify. For this reason, love brands tend to attract more qualified, motivated employees, but mainly in line with their culture.
What makes a brand loved?
Why do consumers love certain brands? What provokes this feeling? To understand this, let’s get a little into consumer psychology.
We generally think that our purchasing decisions are super-rational. We identify needs, analyze options, compare prices, read reviews, weigh pros and cons, and choose what to buy.
But the truth is that this decision is much more emotional than we think.
Purchases are much more influenced by perceptions and sensations than by functional attributes. Gerald Zaltman, a Harvard professor, says that 95% of purchase decision-making happens in the subconscious.
So, even without realizing it, people connect to certain brands because they represent what they believe, what they want to express, or how they want to feel. Notice how the brands you use or admire say a lot about your personality.
When consumers identify with a brand, they start to trust it, what it says and what it sells. Without eyes for competitors, the purchase decision is easy.
There is also an unconscious escape for the excess of options — the paradox of choice, which overloads the mind and can paralyze the consumer.
Brands, in turn, already know very well how consumer behavior works. Therefore, branding explores this potential for connection between brand and consumer by defining a clear identity and conveying its essence in marketing strategies. Thus, bonds tend to strengthen.
The Top 10 Global Love Brands: A Look at the Best of the Best
There are many methods you can use to discover which of the world’s most successful brands are also the most loved in the digital age.
However, the best is to take a closer look at what people are saying about those brands.
Social media analytics platform Talkwalker conducted a study to determine the most loved brands of the year.
They tracked and monitored hundreds of conversations about various local and global brands across numerous channels, including news outlets, top social media platforms, and popular internet forums.
To do this, they looked at many details. But the overall number of brand mentions wasn’t the most important determining factor for how well-loved each brand was.
Instead, it was how people talked about the brands. Which brands engaged people the most effectively? Which inspired the best feelings and attracted the least criticism? Which did people actually say they loved and would recommend to others?
Here’s the shortlist of the brands that came out on top.
- Huda Beauty
- Benefit Cosmetics
- Urban Decay
- Universal Music Group
- Kayo Sports
- Swiss Airlines
International skincare and cosmetics brand Huda Beauty occupied the top spot with good reason.
Launched in 2013 by influencer Huda Kattan, Huda Beauty has since become one of the world’s fastest-growing cosmetics brands.
Not only does it produce high-quality products the world loves, but the story of how Kattan built Huda Beauty into an iconic global brand has inspired countless influencers and gotten them talking.
French kitchen appliance brand Moulinex and fellow cosmetics giant M.A.C. weren’t far behind Huda in popularity.
When the world fell in love with baking during the pandemic, Moulinex capitalized on it by providing top-tier tools that made becoming a kitchen master easy and fun.
Meanwhile, M.A.C. rose from the 27th position in 2020’s study when famous South Korean influencer Lalisa Manoban became the new face of the brand.
What Does It Really Take to Become a Global Love Brand?
Widely loved brands have more in common than terrific products and services that fit seamlessly into people’s lives.
A love brand also adopts smart strategies that help get people talking about them in all the right ways.
Here are a few prime examples.
1. Cultivate a unique brand personality
The world’s most-loved brands didn’t get where they are by accident.
The marketing teams behind them went all out, creating distinct brand personalities that stand out in a crowd.
Iconic brands are like people that way. They have deeply held core values and a vision at the root of everything they do.
They know why they exist and what they’re here to do for their customers.
For example, take 2021’s biggest love brand, Huda Beauty. As a brand, Huda is all about making beauty accessible to anyone, and that idea is at the heart of online conversations about the brand.
Not only does Huda Beauty seek to inspire a new generation of influencers by motivating them to dream and create, but the brand takes real action to support those values.
For instance, in 2020, it donated $500,000 to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
2. Be socially responsible
Today’s consumers want to feel a personal connection to the brands they buy from, and for that to happen, a brand needs to be genuinely exceptional.
Producing great products and services just isn’t enough to become a love brand. The team behind that brand needs to take an interest in the greater good and truly connect with people.
For instance, Moulinex — 2021’s second most loved brand in the world — has an active corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy through their parent company.
Initiatives include ongoing sustainability and addressing the importance of climate impact.
This ties in perfectly with how the brand brought people together during the pandemic over a common interest.
Customers loyal to Moulinex feel like they’re part of something much greater than themselves and can feel good about their purchase choices.
3. Harness the power of nostalgia
The factor that truly differentiates exceptional relationships from all the rest is emotional connection, and this is just as much the case with relationships between brands and consumers.
It’s all about how a brand makes people feel, and one of the easiest ways to create that connection is to tap into the power of nostalgia.
Everyone likes to look back on the good old days and relive their happiest memories. Brands that can associate themselves with positive connections to the past are well on their way to becoming love brands.
For instance, many beauty brands — like Urban Decay and M.A.C., to name just two examples — see terrific success with throwback makeup lines that embody the unique energy of past decades.
Whether their customers have personally lived through those decades or simply have a taste for nostalgia, such lines make it easy for people to associate a brand with something rare and positive.
4. Build an aspirational lifestyle around your brand
A brand is more than just a reliable source for useful products that make life easier. It also represents a lifestyle choice.
This is something love brands do exceptionally well — give their customers something incredible to aspire to, something that can be theirs thanks to one simple purchasing decision.
Huda Beauty is, again, a terrific example here. Huda Kattan started humbly, just like today’s aspiring influencers. But with hard work, creativity, and persistence, she cultivated one of the most loved beauty brands in the world.
As a result, Huda Beauty has an irresistible appeal for those who’d also like to be where Kattan is in a few years.
Streaming service Kayo Sports, the 8th most loved brand in 2021, also does this very well. Being a Kayo subscriber is about more than just entertainment. It’s about living a vibrant, active life engaged with the rest of the world.
5. Cultivate a world-class customer experience
The product isn’t necessarily what creates an unbreakable bond between a consumer and a brand. It’s all about the customer experience.
Treat a consumer well and make them feel special enough, and you can rest assured that they’ll remember your brand. You’ll also have earned yourself a customer for life.
Although the pandemic hit travel and hospitality brands hard, Swiss Airlines did a stellar job of using the internet to stay connected to their customers.
They’re famous for going above and beyond in the customer service department, as well as for their commitment to safety.
For instance, Forbes sang their praises for being one of the safest airlines to fly during the pandemic, helping people feel like their lives were in excellent hands.
6. Stay in step with current trends
A genuine love brand never stops moving. It strives to keep up with its audience as they live their lives, explore new trends, and continue to get to know themselves over time.
Love brands need to stay relevant, which means keeping up with global trends and leveraging them to their advantage.
Urban Decay is 2021’s 6th most loved brand in part because of its knack for staying on-trend.
They’ve always positioned themselves as a brand for those who want to challenge what beauty is all about, but harnessing trends has helped them become a genuine love brand.
For instance, they’ve wholeheartedly embraced diversity by partnering with a wide range of trendsetters and prioritizing representation.
They’ve also made smart influencer marketing choices, as they did when they announced South Korean sensation, Monsta X as their latest global ambassadors.
7. Maintain an engaging social media presence
Social media is an integral part of modern consumers’ lives, so any brand serious about becoming an iconic love brand needs to cultivate a captivating presence there.
Love brands are experts at building communities around what they’re doing. The key to doing this correctly is to make your content feeds less about selling products and more about providing value to their audience.
For instance, French music streaming service Deezer, the 10th most loved brand of 2021, became a social media sensation with the launch of #WomensVoices.
This initiative aimed to amplify female voices in both music and podcasts. The results helped the brand connect with their audiences and show that they care about the same social issues that matter to today’s consumers.
8. Nurture a positive brand image with good press
A love brand knows how important it is to make a good impression on the general public, especially those who may become customers one day.
That means being the subject of positive headlines as often as possible, improving brand awareness and reputation.
While a good, solid brand reputation may result in some organic headlines of this type, many brands find bringing a press office on board to be an excellent investment.
It can be an incredible help when it comes to making the impression you want to make on your audience.
Many of the brands on Talkwalker’s top list are terrific at making headlines for the right things. For instance, Huda Beauty, M.A.C., and Benefit Cosmetics are just a few examples that made news for their generous social contributions and next-level influencer partnerships.
9. Turn your customers into fans
Iconic brands with legendary followings behind them don’t just cultivate communities around what they do.
They build those communities into full-fledged fandoms — movements that gravitate around whatever that brand is about.
Fans aren’t just loyal customers. They love the brands they buy from unconditionally.
So what separates a fandom from a mere customer base? Customers don’t necessarily get together with other customers to discuss the brand or speculate on the headlines it’s been making. Fans, on the other hand, love doing precisely that.
Some excellent examples of modern brands with robust fandoms include Go Pro, Apple, and Burger King.
However, you don’t necessarily need to be a massive global force like them to do the same thing.
Deezer, for example, has built a fandom out of keeping fans connected to the music they love, as well as helping them discover new favorites to get excited about.
10. Support your brand with top-tier sponsorships
One highly effective way to help people fall head over heels in love with your brand is to associate it with other movements, events, and entities people love.
Sponsorships are a powerful way to make this happen.
For instance, research shows that fans don’t just connect to football teams. The more they love the team they follow, the more strongly they eventually connect to the team’s sponsors, as well.
Now imagine your brand as the sponsor of a team, group, event, or movement your customers love. Play your cards right, and they’ll soon come to love you just as much.
Deezer is, again, a great example of how to do this, as they’re an active sponsorship user. For instance, toward the end of 2020, they partnered with DAZN for two world boxing championships, helping them reach an entirely new audience.
11. Partner with top digital influencers
In the interest of further associating your brand with personalities and concepts modern consumers already love, influencer partnerships are another must for those interested in building a love brand.
Content creators on Instagram, YouTube, and other popular platforms already have loyal followings who trust them implicitly.
Allying with them gives you a golden opportunity to connect with an already established audience.
Cosmetics brands are particularly good at doing this — one reason there are so many of them on 2021’s list of the top most loved brand in the world.
Again, Huda Beauty was launched and run by a top influencer. M.A.C., Benefit, and Urban Decay also climbed the ranks, thanks in part to timely partnerships with legendary influencers from around the world.
12. Build a brand people are proud to work for
A love brand is more than just a brand people love to buy from.
They’re attached to companies people are proud to work for, so don’t forget to build your brand reputation from the inside out.
According to a study by Glassdoor, companies with happy, inspired employees are much more likely also to have satisfied, loyal customers.
In other words, love brands are just as good at cultivating a company culture that inspires employees to advocate for them as they are at keeping their customers happy.
The idea is to create something that everyone can be proud to be associated with, the better to grow together into the future.
Love brand KPIs: how to measure brand love?
Do you want to start adopting these strategies and become a brand loved by consumers? So, you need to have some metrics to measure the evolution of brand love. Only then will you know if you are achieving the results you want!
Check out the two indicators we suggest you use.
Engagement rate vs. Sentiment
Just like the Talkwalker study, look at social media. You can find out what people are saying about your brand and what feelings are associated with your mentions.
A social media monitoring job identifies whether the mentions are positive, negative, or neutral according to the content and language used. Then, you can cross-check this analysis with your brand’s engagement rate, which is total engagement divided by all the mentions.
In the chart below, you can see the cross between the engagement rate and the average sentiment of each of the brands that participated in the Talkwalker study.
The downline shows a trend: the more brands gain engagement, the more the interactions are negative (possibly because growth attracts more critics).
Share of heart
The share of heart metric was not used in the study, but it’s also a way of measuring how much the consumers love your brand. This indicator shows the market share that loves your brand compared to competitors.
You may need to conduct a survey that asks consumers: “Among these brands, which one do you like the most?” to obtain this percentage.
The responses show the most loved brands in the market. It also indicates the participation of each one of them in the affective involvement of consumers. It’s an important indicator to compare your position with the competition.
Now you know the most loved brands in the world and the main strategies to become a love brand.
Note that it doesn’t happen overnight — building a brand and winning people’s hearts is a long-term job. But now you know the main steps for that so you can start!
It’s also important to know how to outline the strategies, from the diagnosis to the tactical plan. Take the opportunity to read about the Kernel Strategy, which shows how to create strategies and content that generate results.