Branding: Creating passionate love affairs via digital touch-points

Charlotte York was totally right: Everyone falls deeply in love twice in life. The first time I fell in love, my interest was piqued as I saw the object of my affection across a room. His appeal only grew as I heard him speak. But my affections truly ripened when my hand grazed his: I was hooked! Much of the same can be said for my other love. It’s totally illogical… I know it’s bad for me and, frankly, I don’t even like the taste all that much… but it has a subversive hold on me. I can’t help but get excited as I see it sitting on the store shelf; its caramel color enhanced by the red label wrapped around its shapely glass bottle. The sizzling sound that escapes as I undo its bottle-cap is tantalizing. But what really gets me every time? It’s that feeling of the cool bubbles as they touch my tongue.

Passionate love affairs: it’s what each brand should be striving to ignite within its consumers.

Why? Because passion and desire drive us (as consumers) to make illogical purchase decisions. Think about it. Two products sit on a shelf. Your logical brain recognizes that the generic product is the better decision: it likely has all the same features as the more expensive product and at a much lower price. And yet, for some reason, your hand goes for the highly branded product. Why is that? Because there is something in your gut telling you that you’ll regret it if you don’t get this one… you’re more familiar with this brand, you have positive associations with it – frankly, you can’t explain it – but you just prefer this product. This innate gut reaction is same driver behind Romeo’s romance with Juliet… why Carrie Bradshaw couldn’t escape Mr. Big. The good news for marketers, however, is that brand relationships won’t lead you to tragedy. Instead, passionate brand relationships result in the ability to charge higher premiums for your products/services and, thus, grow your bottom-line.

But – as digital marketers – how can we develop passionate love affairs such that our digital efforts influence premium offline sales?

Is static display the answer? I’d argue that it is a start but, we can do better. Go back to how you fell in love. If anything like me, it was through a combination of the senses: sight, sound and touch. Biological research has demonstrated that stimuli that attracts these 3 senses together is hyper-powerful because sight, sound and touch’s combined sensory receptors collect 98% of the information that surrounds us at any given moment. So, optimal advertising (the kind that really gets deep in one’s heart/one’s gut) should be targeting not just sight alone (i.e. a static ad), or a combination of sight and touch (e.g. interactive ads) or even only just sight and sound (e.g. TV commercials). Instead, in order to build a meaningful relationship with your consumer, your advertising should stimulate sight + hearing + touch.

The exciting thing is that rapidly evolving digital solutions are empowering us marketers to hit this Holy Grail of emotional connection with increased efficiency.

Rich media

Advertising that builds a meaningful relationship with the customer through engaging interactions. Go beyond animated .gif banners to think about how consumers will interact with your advertising.

  • Homepage Takeovers: It’s important to remember that users don’t go to sites looking for your banners. So, using a combination of skins, blades and banners will help you capture the attention of your users (yes boys, bigger really is better). However, to be really impactful, go beyond just the space to think about the message you are imparting. By promoting your ads on contextually relevant sites, you will be guiding the user to associate your brand with the content that they came to see on the site in the first place. Because it will be more meaningful, your brand will also be more salient.
  • Interactive Showcases: Websites are best when we are able to interact with them. But, given that we all experience things in different ways, websites are most optimal branding opportunities when they provide numerous interactive touch-points for users. Leverage a combination of animation, sounds and games to drive high impact.
  • Deep Content Banners: It’s very likely that you’re already building fantastic content throughout the web (YouTube videos, Twitter feeds, Flickr photo galleries). The only problem is it’s too much to ask users to surf through the web to engage with everything. Why not pull in all of this cloud-based content into integrated banners to build deep experiences that can be pushed to the sites where your audience is? The benefit for your consumers is that they can choose to experience your content the way they want to. Plus, they’ll be looking at consequential real-time content rather than static quarterly messages.


Advertising that builds a meaningful relationship with the customer through emotional connection, thereby bonding consumers and brands. While emotion can be built through rich media, video is way stronger at building driving heart-string pulling experiences. These are the feelings that really affect what consumers buy when they are in store.


Think about your mobile phone. Are you away from it for long periods of time? If anything like me, likely not (mine sleeps under my pillow!). Our relationships with our phones are truly intimate. Furthermore, navigating through a phone is an intimate experience – you literally stoke the screen to change the digital experience beneath your fingertips. As touch is the primary way we communicate love, we need to therefore look past desktop advertising to harness the full branding opportunity available through mobile devices. As per Insight Express, this power will lead us all to foster brand connections that are up to 5 times more effective on mobile than via online advertising mechanisms.

For more information on the power of brand advertising, watch my webinar presentation.