14th February 2010
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What kind of love does your brand enjoy?
Some research based thinking for Valentine’s Day from The Buzzz In 2008 a client once said to us that they wanted their brand to become ‘the most loved brand’. It seemed initially like a quaint mistranslation from someone for whom English was not a first language, but on reflection it led the team at The Buzzz to think more about the nature of brand relationships and whether in fact there was a way to compare the emotional context of a customer brand relationship with the most complex of human emotions … love. Figure 1: Sternberg’s Theory of Love
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It seems appropriate to highlight a reconsideration of our initial thinking over St Valentine’s day, when traditionally people feel either more flirtatious; and / or more committed to their own relationships. When we looked to see whether there were any published research papers detailing how brand relationships could be constructed we found the most commonly referred thinking had taken Robert Sternberg’s psychological theory of love as a human expression of a relationship and attempted to transfer this wholesale to a marketing context. (Carroll & Ahuvia, 2006). This most commonly referred to model of love consists of three basic elements: intimacy, passion, and commitment. Sternberg defines intimacy as the emotional connection that is based primarily on the sharing of intense and personal information and the capacity of mutual acceptance. Passion is defined as love's motivational drive including sexual attraction and craving for sexual intimacy; passion induces attraction and appeal, and is easily aroused, but also easily dampened. Commitment is the decisive and thoughtful part of love; it involves first deciding one is "in love," which, over time, develops into a lasting commitment to a relationship or person.
These three components may be viewed in various combinations to evidence different types of love. Thus we derive: Non Love - does not contain any component of love - there is no intimacy, passion, or commitment and is summarised by casual acquaintances only. Liking - details a relationship based on intimacy, but not passion or commitment. The characteristic of Liking is having close, intimate friendships with no long-term commitment; an example of Liking is developing an intimate friendship with a neighbour, but because commitment and passion are missing if either neighbour moves away, the relationship is not maintained. Infatuation - a relationship based on passion, with no intimacy or commitment. Infatuation is characterized by passionate attraction on sight, for example a one night stand. Empty Love - is a relationship based on commitment, lacking any intimacy or passion. An example of Empty Love is a couple staying in a marriage or relationship for the "sake of the children" Empty Love is characterized by a lack of emotional warmth or heat of passion where partners tolerate each other because of a sense of duty, obligation, or fear of change. Romantic Love - is a relationship based on passion and intimacy; however, it lacks commitment. Romantic Love is characterized by a couple who are emotionally and physically drawn to one another without the commitment of a long-term relationship. Romantic lovers look at each other through "rose coloured glasses" not seeing each other's flaws. Companionate Love - is based on intimacy and commitment without the wild fire of passion. Companionate Love is characterized by a committed friendship and shared intimacy; an example of Companionate Love is a marriage whose passion has dwindled or a very close and intimate friendship that has survived through distance, hardship and time.
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Fatuous Love - is based on passion and commitment, but lacks intimacy. Fatuous Love is where...