'We want to be a loved brand' is the charge that marketers and communicators hear every day. And yet there are some fundamental lessons from the dating world that they need to consider if they want to build a sustainable relationship and not just engage in a series of one night stands.
You can't be loved by everyone - nor should you be.
We all know that we cannot be loved by everyone we meet, and yet businesses often aspire to be 'loved' brands without consider whom they want to love them and why. Do you want customers to love you for the experience you give them? Do you want regulators to love you for your compliance with the rules established for you industry or business? Do you want your suppliers to love you for your generous and flexible terms and conditions? And what happens when doing one directly conflicts with another? Then you have to choose. For example, if you want customers to love you for meeting their individual needs, you may have to challenge your suppliers in terms of what items you purchase from them, in order to satisfy those customers' passions.
Trying too hard to be loved by everyone will earn you the respect of no one.
It's oh so tempting; love everyone and they'll love you back, right? Just like in personal relationships, professional relationships mean making choices. And trying too hard will just make you seem desperate and lonely for affection. Make no mistake; there will always be those willing - if not eager - to take advantage of a desperate situation. But that's not the same thing as a respectful relationship. Think about the car dealer who is one sale away from making their bonus or winning that fabulous trip on the last sales day of the month or contest. It is very possible that the deal that they make may satisfy in the short term; but what happens when their need to make the sale, and someone who really doesn't qualify for the special 'no money down, low-low financing' offered?
Money can't buy love - or respect
We hear a lot about 'giving back' whether it is companies or individuals who have make fortunes. But paying for one's sins is not the same as living a moral life. Giving back out of a sense of guilt, obligation or in an effort to build public relations is really the same thing as paying a voluntary 'fine' without waiting to be caught. It's considered part of the 'cost of doing business' but in fact is really part of the 'cost of doing business wrong.'
You need to love yourself first
You want your customers to love you? Make sure your employees do first. You want suppliers to offer you favorable terms? Make sure your purchasing department understands your core values. You want the best, brightest most passionate workers? Not only does your HR/recruitment department need to love your organization, so does everyone those potential hires meets in their interaction with your company. That's right, no matter how good your HR department is at making the company seem attractive, if they've had a bad experience with you outside of the wooing process, it is not likely that the person you want to hire will want to hire you. And that leads right to ...
People need to fall in love with enduring attributes, not the temporary or illusory
Communications departments that are tasked with putting a good face on things in order to get people to love your brand, marketers or business development people who promise the stars and the moon (without knowing that you can deliver on your promises) are like the HR department in the previous example. They're trying to make people fall in love with who you wish you were, or who you want to be.
And that's not the same thing as who you are.
The last thing, and perhaps the most important of all, is to love them back. For real.