How does a relationship with a brand grow? First, you get to know the brand. Then you try and perceive that the brand works great for the purpose. Then you start liking it, preferring it over other brands. Once you are convinced that this is the only brand which serves the purpose best, you start loving it. You don’t want any other brand except the one that crossed your mind. The brand gets your mind share, resulting in your purchase and market share.
But how much love is enough for a brand to survive? Love is scalable, at least in the world of branding! Imagine how this love translates when it comes to a new competing brand that serves similar purposes, almost in the same way as your most preferred brand does. Then you start liking, and ultimately giving a share of love to the new brand. You become a soft-core loyal, switching in between these two brands. Therefore, in my humble opinion, making your customers love your brand is not enough to survive in a hyper-competitive market today.
Thus we need to find out the next level of brand engagement. This could be called “living” the brand. Living the brand starts when you stop seeing the brand merely as a superior way of meeting your needs and start looking at how it integrates in “well and woes” of your life. For example, you might love a cookie brand because of its taste, but the brand owner starts promoting this cookie as a “smile maker” of kids to keep them happy. The secret is about to stop talking on superiority points, rather talk about how it fits in your life that you live everyday.
This “knowing-liking-loving-living” sequence is also important for internal customers, e.g., employees. Organizations must try their best to administer internal branding program that creates employees’ emotional attachment with the organization. It would ultimately result in internal brand evangelists, who would go a long way to spread the good word not because they are being paid for their jobs, but because they love and live the brand from their hearts. I have seen many customer service people at GP using Airtel numbers, as well as their GP numbers. While it is very common to have multiple SIMs these days, the foregoing example does not show that these executives are “living” the brand, even though they might “love” it. The same goes with Tata agent’s office in Dhaka. You will hardly find them using Tata brand cars! If you do not live your brand, how come you expect your customers to love and live it?