Image via: Harry Cunningham on Unsplash

From Buyers to Believers: Decoding Unwavering Brand Devotion

How do they do it? How do brands like Trader Joe’s, Lego, and Subaru build such deep emotional connections that they reach a new echelon of brand affinity? Beyond likes to love, beyond buyers to believers, beyond affection to advocates. Some call it Irrational Loyalty, we call it unwavering brand devotion: a bond that goes well beyond the fundamental, functional product features and benefits. It becomes a relationship with emotions and feelings usually reserved for other humans.
To understand how to achieve unwavering brand devotion, we first tapped into consumer’s minds to learn how they think, feel and speak about the brands they love. We conducted a social scan to identify highly engaged brand lovers, administered 40 surveys and hosted in-depth interviews to uncover the ‘why’ behind their brand love and loyalty. What we found is that the language is different. The expectations are different. The role the brand plays in their life is bigger than the products that are exchanged. It’s a two-way street. Here’s what we observed from brand devotees:

1. They use romantic language.

“I love that they’re not trying to hide who you are, but just elevate it.”

Glossier Lover

2. They view the brand as a person, not a product.

“Billie is different because you can tell they genuinely care about their customers. If you’re not happy, they fix it.”

Billie Loyalist

3. They feel seen and understood.

“My online community was so excited by the Pride set, because the LEGO group sees us and knows we build.”

Lego Mega Fan

4. Their commentary is rarely about what the brand actually ‘does.’

“I LOVE the humor that is used in their marketing.”

Tushy Devotee

5. They feel like they’re part of something bigger.

“As a customer, you feel like you need to elevate your behavior, it creates a sense of responsibility. I don’t know how they do it!”

Trader Joe’s Superfan

6. The excitement doesn’t fade with time.

“It’s funny, usually I’m just subbing out a product I ran out of, but I still get SO excited to get my shipment, it’s always a fun mail day to get stuff from them!”

Glossier Enthusiast

7. The brand opens them up to new possibilities and experiences.

"The environment seems to improve customer attitude/behavior...people are more patient, smile, engage more, put away their shopping carts.”

Trader Joe’s Fanatic

8. They are eager for more.

“A shampoo? Body wash? Sugar scrub? I would buy it all!”

Billie Loyalist

9. They become evangelists.

“Even as an adult, I’m not afraid to share my love for LEGO.”

Lego Lover
Images via Billie
Images via Lego
Images via Trader Joe’s
Video by Trader Joe’s Superfan
So what’s a brand to do? How can you level up to forge these deep emotional bonds? It starts by asking tough questions about your own brand and relationship with your consumers. Are you truly consumer-obsessed? Do you take the time to listen and adapt based on what you learn? Do you create a consistent experience that also delights them? Do you put your consumer’s happiness above other priorities? Part 2 of this piece delves into these questions and more, sharing 8 ways to build unwavering brand devotion.


Cristina Ferrari

Senior Strategy Director
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