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Beyond Love Potion #9: How to engineer a path to brand love

The Shipyard’s Lance Porigow offers an 8-step process of how you can engineer brand love to help drive consistent and predictable growth.

5 min read

MarketingMarketing Strategy

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Do you believe in brand love? We all know the cult brands — Apple, In-N-Out Burger, Fender — with fans that declare their love with everything from stickers and reviews to events and tattoos. However, brand love starts with a casual relationship or a one-night stand. 

The reality is that most people are polygamous when it comes to their favorite brands, switching between options, even if they have a favorite they most often use. While romantic love is often initiated with some chance encounter where the stars align as the universe brings two people together, companies can’t afford to leave it to chance. 

To engineer brand love requires using data science, performance marketing and audience segmentation matched with unignorable creativity to methodically plan, target and orchestrate customer connection.

From first encounter to the active choice to buy, building a brand connection offers an ever-evolving myriad of ways that customers can choose to interact with a brand, both physically and digitally. You’ll need more than Love Potion #9 to create that spark. 

Here, we break down eight steps that will not only engineer brand love but drive consistent and predictable growth as well.

Love at First Sight: That fizzy moment when someone initially notices the brand. Advertising certainly plays a role here, but it works best when magnified with other forms of earned media like public relations, word of mouth and influencers – all which require a brand to do something buzz-worthy. Think grand gesture: When REI decided to #OptOutside and close their stores on Black Friday, they dramatically boosted their awareness, instantly added a million users and increased sales on by 23%.

Get Your Flirt On: A brand can attract people with their beautiful product design and clever, funny ads or even tease them by offering an enticing benefit or experience; however, it usually takes multiple touchpoints before people decide to act. Here, contextual and search advertising can be efficient, placing you in the right place at the right time. Disciplined digital marketing, data hygiene and predictive intelligence will help make sure that when someone encounters your brand it’s relevant and natural. 

Catching Feels on a First Date: Getting someone to visit your website is the easy part. Adding real value while you have their attention requires creativity and focus — and possibly a touch of Web3. For example, Bollé made the most of this first-date moment by using augmented reality to show not only what their ski goggles look like on you, but more importantly allowing you to see what the world looks like through their lenses — and how they perform in various conditions. The experience offers practical utility for the user and drove a 456% sales lift for the company.

Hooking Up: Brand experience is truly consummated when the first sale happens. When your customer buys your product, they also buy into the brand and expect it to perform as expected and live up to the promises made. It doesn’t have to be the best sex of their lives to continue the relationship, but it must satisfy them and be worth the time, money and energy expended with your brand. It’s critical to optimize every step from shopping to purchase to delivery and usage.

Going Steady: Repeat purchases signal satisfaction and commitment. Increasing your share of these return buyers leads to a committed relationship. Each of these touchpoints captures first-party data that enables companies to truly know their “partner” for a two-way relationship fueled by more personal interactions.

Kiss & Tell: Recommending the brand to others is the point of the Net Promoter Score. Indeed, scouring reviews people provide online can be one of the best forms of market research available to your brand. When you set out to engineer sharing, start with the reasons people share and deliberately build sharing triggers into the experience. For instance, Instacart built its Refer-a-Friend program right into their app, giving both the Friend and the Customer Advocate $10 off their next order.

Fall in Love: Avoid one-night stands. By creating additional touch points to fill the gap until the next purchase, brands can create a deliberate value exchange that enables more insight about their customers. Create reasons to engage with your brand on a regular basis, even outside of the purchase, for instance, by delivering inspiring content or high-value coupons via text. 

Put a Ring on It: When your brand is desired above all competitors, you have reached the pinnacle of customer relationships. Inviting users into, say, a loyalty program or an on-going subscription means a committed relationship supports their needs and your bottom line.

To engineer brand love in a way that drives persistent growth for your brand, you’ll need to systematically attract as many people as possible and deliberately build those relationships through more meaningful and relevant interactions. Show your customers why it’s time to swipe right on your brand.


Lance Porigow, who leads The Shipyard’s Growth Initiatives and the omnichannel e-commerce practice, is vested in building “next practices” – the best practices of tomorrow. During his career journey, Lance has helped start the first Premium Programmatic Media conference, established a “Reverse Segmentation” approach to scaling audience growth, fought the rampant bot fraud with the Association of National Advertisers and consulted on digital transformation engagements.


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