My partner, Dave, loves the Apple brand. And when I say “love,” I mean LOVE. So it was amusing to see Randall Stross’ Digital Domain article in the New York Times, when he suggests that “love” is not “the word that immediately comes to mind” when you describe your affinity with the Windows operating system. Awkwardly, Microsoft behaves as if its customers have a stronger affection.
Why do consumers love brands? What is that love? One key element in that affinity is the consumer’s identification of brand meaning coinciding with their deeply held values. Stross makes this observation about Microsoft’s assumptions about its Live product range:
Even if the services had been closely tied to Windows, the public didn’t perceive the brand as having the attributes that would serve associated products well. Professor Batra says, “Our brand-love research shows that loved brands reflect and symbolize deeply held personal values, such as Apple does for creativity,” he says. “Windows and Live each lack this type of brand strength.”
Professor Batra and others authored a research article, Brand Love, aiming to provide a more diligent grounding to concepts of brand love, beyond adopting concepts of personal love. The authors identified seven core elements to a consumer’s love for brands, such as congruence of personal values and brand meaning. In the article they point out that brand love is not the same as interpersonal love: “Consumers were concerned with what the brand could do for them, not what they could do for the brand.” Nonetheless, the authors conceived a model against which brand love could be considered, which include passion-driven behaviors that feature interactive actions and cognitive aspects.
The outcomes of brand love are intent to repurchase, willingness to pay a premium price, proactive positive word of mouth and resistance to negative information about the brand. And when I apply this framework to what I know about Dave and his relationship with Apple, it is easy to see he is irretrievably smitten.