So would you? Would you have your wedding at Starbucks? How about your reception? Lets switch venues, how about at Taco Bell or Subway?
While I have never heard of a Taco Bell reception, I have been tracking the phenomena of Starbucks weddings and receptions since I worked on my first book about the company back in 2006. For example, an article on Entertainmentwise.com pictorially recounts 13 recent Starbucks wedding receptions. The phenomena of engagements, marriages and receptions at brands like Starbucks or another company about which I have written, Zappos, demonstrates what it means to become a beloved brand That is not to say that marital unions have to be taking place in your business to prove your belovedness to customers but such actions show how closely a brand connects with the values and identity perceptions of its customers.
In my latest book, Leading the Starbucks Way, I explore a model of brand love created by Graham Robertson (president of the brand strategy firm aptly named Beloved Brands). Graham’s model defines brands along a continuum of customer emotional connection that goes from indifference, like it, love it, and ultimately to beloved brand for life. The key to the last category is that customers view the brand as a form of “self-expression” where they are outspoken fans who will not switch loyalties because they have formed lifelong memories connected to the brand.
Brand love has power in the market place. Beloved brands get more positive media attention, they have increased social media following and viral marketing campaigns and as we are all coming to learn more weddings and significant life events either in their buildings or with their products and services prominently displayed (e.g. think of Star Wars theme weddings as an example).
Your goal may not be to have customer say “I do” at your dry-cleaning business or your sushi restaurant but it is to have them say “they do”. They do allow me to express myself. They do serve as an extension of my identity. They do hold a special emotional place for me through the memorable experiences they produce.