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Customer Experience

Why Do Customers Love Certain Brands?

Two people using their hands to form a heart

Why do customers love certain brands but not others? Is brand love random, based on the latest viral video? Or is it strategic, based on an intentional focus on customer engagement?

When I first started my tenure at Discover Card, one of the things that stuck out to me was all of the customer feedback where people literally wrote, “I love my Discover Card.”

I thought that the word “love” was really fascinating because who loves a credit card? I get that people love Disney or Lego or Starbucks, but a credit card?

After nearly 10 years, I did learn why so many people “love” their Discover Card. It’s because of the company’s fanatical focus on customer service and customer experience.

So it was with that background that I was particularly interested in a new report called “Love Brands: The Most Loved Brands in the U.S.” from Hootsuite and Talkwalker. The study looked at 2.6 billion online conversations, covering 1,500 brands across 20 industries.

“Brand love is the strongest relationship between consumers and brands,” the report states, adding a finding from KPMG Forrester that loved brands grow 3x faster than the industry average.

In the foreword to the report, Maggie Lower, CMO of Hootsuite, writes:

“Likes, shares and comments are nice, but the brands you see in this report are generating a lot more than just fleeting top-level engagement on social media.

Beloved brands use social to better understand their audience and what they’re looking for.

Beloved brands understand the nuances of each social network well and are able to use them in ways that improve people’s experiences.

But above all else, beloved brands know how to take advantage of the last true differentiator in marketing creativity, and they have the courage to use it in big ways. Taking creative risks that don’t just stop thumbs as they scroll but that spark joy, love and loyalty along the way.”

David Low, CMO of Talkwalker, provided exclusive commentary on the report and brand love to the Experience This! podcast.

“We all know that consumer buying decisions and brand loyalties are changing incredibly fast,” he said. “Unfortunately, though, the industry hasn’t changed its approach to tracking brand health, which has historically been driven by either static reports or yearly brand health checks. So we started by understanding and redefining what the modern drivers are.”

The three top drivers of brand love are:

  • Consumer passion, measured by positive and negative keywords, images, and emojis directed toward a brand
  • Consumer trust, measured by the same components
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT), measured by online reviews of identified customers

According to Lowe, two key insights emerged from the report.

“Number one is that brands can’t just focus on building positive sentiment anymore,” he said. “They must actively address and mitigate the negative sentiment. Because we all know how fast bad news travels.”

“The second insight is that while we all know brand marketing has been proven to be effective, the power of user generated content or creator or influencer content was paramount to helping improve brands perceptions,” he added.

In the United States, the most-loved industry is beauty and fashion. One of the biggest factors in the success of those companies is a focus on environmental and social sustainability efforts, which particularly resonate with younger consumers.

Three of the four top-ranked brands are in the beauty and fashion industry: Jimmy Choo, Dolce & Gabbana, and Estée Lauder.

Other Top 10 performers: Downy, Oral-B, Mercedes-Benz, KitKat, Nespresso, adidas, and HelloFresh.

Interestingly, other than HelloFresh, these are not new brands. These are brands that have been around a long time and have figured out how to use social media to their advantage. They are active in the right social media channels for their customers, both from a marketing perspective but also to be responsive to customer needs.

The report also looked at eight other countries and regions. Notable brands that appeared on lists outside of the U.S. include: LEGO, L’Oréal, Land Rover, Nescafé, IBM, Head & Shoulders, and Danone.

So what should brands do to create more “love”?

  • Choose the right social media channels for your audience, and don’t be afraid to aim for an emotional response.
  • Spend lots of time listening to customers. This includes searching for both brand lovers and brand haters. Complaints can be a great source of intel for how to improve your product, service, and experience.
  • Seek out user-generated content by creating shareable experiences. It always sounds better when someone else is complimenting you than when you’re complimenting yourself.
  • Look at social media as more than a marketing channel. Don’t forget the “social” in “social media.”

“At the heart of brand love is the consumer,” the report concludes. “You need to be a company worthy of their love.”

To download the full report, visit

Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash.