How brands make us love them

The secret to hooking us in, making us happy and keeping us engaged

Love is a complicated thing. We can’t always put our finger on why we love who or what we do, but we’re all looking for that feeling (and bonus points if our love relationships are reciprocal). Brands work this relationship magic on us, too. It’s just like the dance we do with a prospective partner — they have to hook us in, make us happy and keep us engaged for the long haul.

The courting phase
Now more than ever, our attention is hard to capture, and it’s even harder to keep. The brands we love best have become relationship gurus when it comes to drawing us in and keeping us interested — despite distractions like social media noise and binge-watching marathons.

That’s where content comes in. Great content — and most importantly video — is a powerful force that brands need to harness, whether they create it themselves or curate it in compelling ways. Video is so critical to a brand’s success because it’s a medium that can capture and connect with us on all fronts: sight, sound and motion.

Once a brand grabs us with content that makes a meaningful connection, we’ve truly stepped into the courting phase. We could be looking to be inspired, to feel good or be in any of the universal content moments that define why we engage online. But the outcome is always the same: it’s a relationship now, and the content a brand offers us from this point forward will decide whether we want to take that relationship to the next step.

So, once a brand has our attention, they have to keep us interested. The best way to do this is by giving us more of what they know we will love. The secret to that is knowing exactly what makes us tick.

Data Is basically just like dating
In any relationship, the more we learn about each other, the better we understand one another’s needs. For brands, this means understanding our quirks, our tastes, our passions or even simple things like our preferred times of day. Data gives brands the opportunity to almost know us better than we know ourselves — just by paying attention.

Learning more about us gives brands the tools to make us happier. Brands that observe how we like to engage with them, and that pay attention to how we use their products or services, can begin to anticipate our desires or problems. This allows brands to address our issues — sometimes long before we’ve realized we have them.

Consider the Huffington Post. It garners millions of likes, comments and shares each day by using audience engagement insights to create content that is pre-determined to hit home with its readers. This model allows Huffington Post (and many publishers like it) to continue to grow. When a brand anticipates and responds to our needs in this way, we want them to stick around.

Now we’re joined at the hip
Once a brand has a hold on our attention, the relationship can leap to another level. Our mobile devices let us bring our most-loved brands wherever we go, to be at our beck and call when we need them. But to get to this level, brands have to live and breathe mobile.

It’s hard to overstate how deep of a relationship we already have with our phones. In our research, a full 49% of people told us they use their smartphone before they even get out of bed in the morning. Your phone is an extension of who you are and what you care about, so much so that we define ourselves by whether we’re “an iPhone person” or “an Android person.” Because mobile is so important to who we are, brands have to be mobile. Not just be accessible on a mobile device, but actually weave mobile through the fabric of how they relate to us.

This mobile relationship might be with a brand’s can’t-live-without app, or it might even manifest with their next-level 360-degree mobile video. No matter how that mobile relationship happens, it’s a non-negotiable part of the deal. If a brand can’t keep you happy with a killer mobile experience, you’re going to look elsewhere, and fast. Mobile is just too important to who we are today for brands to only meet us halfway.

Let’s have an open dialogue
Even the best relationships need to keep evolving, and our relationship with brands is no different. Do we want to shack up with a brand that invites our feedback, or are we satisfied with one that doesn’t want to listen to what we say? Open lines of communication between a brand and its consumers lead to the best relationships, and to the most consumer-focused innovation. It has to be a give and take where we exchange our feedback and insights for a world filled with better content, unparallelled customer service and products tailored to exactly who we are.

We are never happy when our personal relationships are one-sided, and this holds just as true for our relationships with brands. Listening to our feedback helps brands grow, but acting on our feedback wins our loyalty for life.

Falling in love with a brand that is faithful to you and who you are — that shares your personal values, reflects your true self and provides you with a valuable exchange — is the happily ever after we’re all looking for.

This article originally appeard on Mashable. Learn more about how AOL is building brands people love by clicking here. #BrandBuilders

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