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Romantic Intentions – Book Review Part 1

Stephen Fenton

5 January 2015

In their book ‘Brand Romance’ Yasushi Kusume and Neil Gridley draw close parallels between brands searching for affection and the path of true human love. This excellent blueprint opens by urging us to think of building relationships with receptive people (the authors choose to adopt the term ‘audience’ for them) in much the same way as parents offer unconditional love to their children.

Long-term emotional engagement

This is not a game for the faint-hearted and those in pursuit of love and happiness for their brand must accept they cannot simply think that you throw powerfully branded communications out there and then desire floods back in straight away. No, this is a disciplined and (perhaps at the outset) selfless act – not really expecting anything immediately in return. Again founded on the model of a good parent.

There is a kind of courtship outlined in the book; an analogy with partners coming closer together from first sight to complete intimacy. I really enjoy the picture it paints and wise advice of avoiding ‘one night stands’.

“For brands to succeed in a competitive environment, they need to build a ‘loving’ relationship with their audiences. Brands need to construct an emotional engagement with audiences over time, so that they can make a genuine connection both to the brand and what it has to offer”


The principle of high design

It is music to my ears that Kusume and Gridley firmly advocate only the best form of design management and creativity. They see it as crucial and the only tool to have a strong enough cupid’s arrow for such romantic encounters. It should harness a mix of business research, people-centred thinking and a multi disciplinary approach.

“To be truly effective, it must offer relevant and meaningful solutions that satisfy people’s needs, empower them and make them happier. At the same time, it must contribute to the stakeholder’s prosperity and, above all, respect the world we live in. It must treat customers with love and create, holistic brand experiences for all”


A deep and meaningful commitment

If branding is only about appearance then any connection is going to be pretty superficial. Here the writers dip into their combined experience of over 20 years and call upon day-to-day working practices to delve deeper.

Brand Romance goes on to reveal how a series of key principles can be applied to achieve real success and reap mutual rewards – all part of their manifesto of forming a “loved brand”. There are 15 commitments addressed in detail which essentially sit under 4 separate topics areas relating to:
• Knowing who you are
• Knowing your audience
• Knowing what you will bring to them
• Knowing how you will bring it to them

Watch this space for the next installment of our review but if you can’t wait why not buy a copy!

Using the power of high design to build a lifelong relationship with your audience.

First published 2013 by





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