On October 6, I woke up to a Twitter timeline unlike any I had seen before. It was filled with a stream, rather a flood of tributes. To Steve Jobs.
It was more than people tweeting condolences. It was an outpouring.
Of feelings. Emotions.
Of pain. Shock. Disbelief.
Of the pride and joy of having shared a connection. With Steve through the products he invented.
And a discovery, a rekindling, an exploration of the connection one shared with everyone else who was out there in the stream in the midst of the outpouring.
Everyone else who had one thing in common.
A bond, a feeling of kinship. Created by being part of the Apple universe.
One that transcended borders. Sex. Age. Profession. Status.
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And went beyond culture. And beliefs. And Business rivalry. (Google, for perhaps the very first time, placed a link to a non-Google site on its home page. The link went to Apple.com.)
I was moved to tears. And I am sure many others were. The irony is that I am not even an Apple user. Yet I felt a bond with Steve. A connection with everyone else, who was out there expressing themselves. Many via an Apple device.
The only other time I have been moved to tears by reading tributes was when I read the flood of expression that poured in from across the world when India’s iconic Taj Mahal Palace hotel was attacked back in 2008. Then too, the outpouring was unexpected. And similar to what we have seen with the tributes for Steve. (At the time, I worked for Taj Hotels.)
What stood for me then and again today is that real brand love is about far more than the brand. And goes much beyond the act of acquiring, using, consuming the brand. It’s not even about the brand’s customers.
It is about the way a brand makes people feel.
Not just feel while they are interacting with it. But sometimes even before they have done so. And certainly long, long after they have interacted with it.
It is something that takes a brand to another plane. Beyond its physical shape and technical specs. Beyond the transaction. Even beyond the relationship that CRM creates and nurtures.
And it is certainly something that is not reflected in the Likes on a Facebook fan page.
(Apple does not even have an official Social media presence. Everything one sees is completely created and managed by the kind of people who have poured their hearts out in tribute to Steve Jobs.)
Yes, having great products (like Apple) and providing exemplary service (Like the Taj Mahal Palace) helps in creating this intense love for one’s brand. But then that is something that can be matched, improved. And if neither, provided at a discount by another brand.
Real brand love is about creating an impression on people that endures. And is one that does not fade through the passage of time. Or by the next upgrade. Or newest flavour.
It is something that becomes part of the people you touch and serve. So much so, they carry it with them. And keep it with them.
Beyond the life of their interaction with the brand. Beyond the life of a campaign. Sometimes even beyond the life of the brand itself.
It is something that makes them feel better. About themselves.
And something that lives on. And on…
Thank you Steve for changing the way people lived, learnt, loved, spoke, wrote, worked, played and dreamed. And for the lessons in cultivating real brand love. RiP.
The article was first published on CampaignAsia.