How many times have you heard someone say something like, "I love Nordstrom; their customer service is second to none." Or, "I love Virgin Atlantic, I wouldn't fly any other airline." People who know me have become accustomed to hearing, at least once a week (if not once a day), "I looooooooooooove Starbucks!"

We use the word love a lot when it comes to our favorite brands.

Love. Love. Love.

Jennifer Rice of Mantra Brand Communications conducted an interesting "love" experiment. She typed "I love [brand]" into Google and noted the number of items Google returned. She did this for many well-known brands to see how much we really love them. High on the "love list" were Apple, Google, Target and IKEA.

Interestingly, that correlates with the results of the InterBrand Reader's Choice Awards for the brands with the most impact in 2004. Apple was number one. Also in the top 10 were Target, Google and IKEA.

Unless you have been living in a remote forest, cut off from all people and communications, you are quite aware of the connection between branding and emotion. Countless books and articles have been written about it in the past few years. It's clear that people make decisions in life based on emotion. And decisions about the brands with which we choose to associate are incredibly emotional. People never say they love commodities. Ever hear anyone say, "I love pork bellies" or "I love grain"?

Many years ago, when I was working at IBM, we participated in a study that sought to determine the ideal brand attributes that would tip the scales in favor of one middleware vendor over another. We were surprised at the results. Traditionally conservative IT B2B decision makers consistently identified emotional brand attributes as determining factors.

Sure the products need to be reliable and secure. Those rational brand attributes are the table stakes that get you into the game and ensure you are considered. But for those vendors that met the rational criteria, the emotional connections were pivotal.

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image of William Arruda

William Arruda is a personal branding pioneer, the founder and CEO of Reach Personal Branding, and the author of Ditch. Dare. Do! 3D Personal Branding for Executives.

Twitter: @williamarruda

LinkedIn: William Arruda