Love is all around us. But does that love extend to brands? Can people really love a brand? Do they care that much?

In short, yes. The PR industry is awash with phrases like “brand advocates”, “loyalty”, “trust” and “love”. And research shows that the connections we make with brands can be as deep and emotional as the relationships we have with other people. In fact, 75% of buying experiences are based on emotion.

Here are 7 top tips for building meaningful relationships with consumers:

Know your type

First off, identify your target consumer and get familiar with their associated needs. Then, perfect the match between those needs and what your brand offers.

If you can make your consumers’ lives easier and more pleasurable, you’re on to a winner.

Don’t be too clingy

Don’t overload your customers with too much sales-led messaging. This can be a huge turn-off.

34% of US online adults are reported to have “broken up” with a brand due to receiving poor, disruptive or irrelevant marketing messages. Other break-ups were also commonly due to the brand continuously sending irrelevant content on multiple channels (53%).

Don’t play hard to get

Whilst you shouldn’t bombard your consumer, you do need to ensure that you are instantly contactable and approachable when they need you. In working hours, aim to respond to consumer queries promptly – for our brands, we always aim to respond to a customer’s social media query on the same day and where possible within one hour.

There is nothing more irritating than trying to get your problem solved and getting absolutely nothing back or it being a huge hassle. It is in your interest to resolve your consumer’s problem promptly, so don’t leave it up to them to chase you.  Ensure you have a dedicated resource for this on all channels; social media, email and telephone.

Online bank First Direct topped a customer service league compiled by consumer group Which? in 2014 with accessibility to customer support as one of the main rationales. In the same survey, it was reported that calls being passed around members of staff and hold music were major irritations.

Make up

Just like personal relationships, brands and consumers go through rough patches. And these rough patches are often the make or break of a relationship.

Did you mess up? It happens. Admit your fault, apologise, and compensate. A sense of empathy is essential here, too; how would you feel if you’d invested in a brand, and they let you down?

If dealt with well and promptly, you’ve got one happy customer again and if on a public platform, you have shown your other customers that you care about them, and this will encourage them to trust you further.

Value loyalty

You’ve successfully acquired some loyal customers? Great. Now let them know they are important to you. Reward their loyalty with special and personalised offers and promotions.

72% of consumers say that when a brand they love rewards them for being a loyal customer, it makes them want to have a long-term relationship with that brand.

Have a good sense of humour

If relevant to your brand, use humour where appropriate. Using humour adds a human element, thus portraying you as more trustworthy and not just a faceless organisation. Wit and playful humour is incredibly important for enabling your consumers to feel at ease, safe, and happy with you.

If a brand is funny, a large proportion of consumers – namely millennials – will be proud to associate with it. And in actual fact, you’re doing them a favour in helping them gain ‘funny points’ amongst their peers.

With the ongoing rise of social media and viral videos and memes, the past few years have seen link-exchange become an important part of socialising.  In a survey commissioned by Comedy Central, 58% of young adults said they’ll send a link to a funny video to make “a special impression” on someone else.

Keep the spark alive

Brands must keep the sparks alive in a long-term relationship rather than focus solely on the short-term, single purchase.

As the brand and consumer relationship matures, it is essential to rejuvenate it through surprises, innovation, and news. Deploy new tech, do a brand makeover, add new products or new twists to the old ones.