by Rebecca Kappel, Strategy Director

Falling in love. For your sake, I hope you’ve done it … at least once.

The obsession, the singular focus on that one person, that “I have to have them” feeling. It’s like nothing else. It drives your decisions (good ones and bad ones) and dominates your motivations.

This one universal human experience is so strong it’s been the prominent theme in an undefinable majority of art, music and theater we’ve produced since, well, ever. I don’t need to find some stats — you know it’s true.

But leave it to science to ruin the romance. According to some smart folks at Harvard, love is simply chemicals in the brain, and since the brain controls the body, there you go – through three scientifically proven phases of love: lust, attraction and attachment.

Love and marketing. Like love and marriage but … different. A product or service might not be as life-altering as human love, but it sure can change futures and fortunes (think: Apple). Brand love can begin as innocently as any other: passing a window display in a busy city, pausing on a post on Instagram or being introduced by a friend.

And, conveniently, the phases are incredibly similar. When consumers or audiences are after a product, an experience or a lifestyle, they process the same emotions:

Lust

So much dopamine here! You have to have it, can’t live without it. It’s the vacation, the car, the shoes that will finally make you happy.

But how do you make someone fall in love with your brand? It’s easy if it’s a Porsche or a pair of Manolos, but what if it’s pipeline maintenance?

According to Ben Kunz at American Marketing Association, and drawn from the psychology of Daniel Berlyne, the following five elements generate desire.

1. Novelty: Make your brand like no other brand around it.

2. Unexpectedness: Connect surprising elements to your narrative; don’t be boring.

3. Complexity: Let’s call this intelligence: be smarter than your audience.

4. Ambiguity: Leave something to the imagination. Give them a reason to click the button, turn the page or pick up the phone.

5. Creation of puzzlement: Make them wonder how they could ever survive without your product or service.

Attraction

Now that they want you, make them trust you and play into the need for reward behavior. Let them know that not only can your product or service take care of their needs, they deserve it. The luxury item, the excellent customer service, the top-notch legal work … they shouldn’t settle for less.

Ah, oxytocin.

Attachment

And this is, of course, a brand’s best friend. Or favorite lover. This means we reach for Coke over Pepsi, Kleenex over tissue (is there even another tissue brand?), Apple over Samsung, Southwest over United and even H&R Block over TurboTax. Because eventually, even in the best love stories, you end up talking about stuff like taxes and whether or not you slept well.

If love is in the brain, the good news for marketers is that brand is in the brain too. Understand your audience, talk directly to them, build their trust and don’t ever be boring.

Because, after all, “Love is a game that two can play and both can win.” – Eva Gabor