“Give customers ownership in your brand! That is key to building a lasting and profitable relationship.”

I recently read this, and was struck by the simplicity and truth of the statement. It is very similar to things I have written in my articles, in my thesis and repeated in speeches.

Yet sometimes something is said so well, so succinctly, it reaches out and grabs you. These two sentences did that for me.

Problem is, many brands don't do this. They may say they do, or they are working towards it, or make similar promises, but in the final analysis many just don't give the customers the ability to feel they “own” the brand--not the product or service, but the brand.

And in an increasingly automated society, brands that create an emotional relationship with customers stand to gain a great deal: loyalty, profits, brand ambassadors, and even growth.

A few articles ago I wrote about the idea of friendship branding, which essentially suggests companies should think of their brands in a human way, because these are the brands that build up loyalty and trust over time, and create valuable relationships with customers.

Having a human element to the brand is important, and goes beyond having a human face for a brand logo or personality. An example that springs to mind is Rowan Yarn.

Rowan Yarn is an English yarn company that specializes in higher-end yarn and patterns. I am a big knitter; I absolutely love it. It is incredibly stress-reducing and creatively satisfying for me.

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Kristine Kirby Webster is Principal of The Canterbury Group, a direct-marketing consultancy specializing in branding and relationship marketing. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Direct Marketing at Mercy College in NY. She can be reached at Kristine@canterburygroup.net.