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Romancing the Brand: How Brands Create Strong, Intimate Relationships with Consumers

ISBN: 978-1-118-61128-9
272 pages
January 2014, Jossey-Bass
Romancing the Brand: How Brands Create Strong, Intimate Relationships with Consumers (1118611284) cover image


A young woman tells a focus group that Diet Coke is like her boyfriend. A twenty-something tattoos the logo of Turner Classic Movies onto his skin. These consumers aren’t just using these brands. They are engaging in a rich, complex, ever-changing relationship, and they’ll stay loyal, resisting marketing gimmicks from competitors and influencing others to try the brand they love.

How can marketers cultivate and grow the deep relationships that earn this kind of love and drive lasting success for their brands?

In Romancing the Brand, branding expert Tim Halloran reveals what it takes to make consumers fall in love with your brand. Step by step,he reveals how to start, grow, maintain, and troubleshoot a flourishing relationship between brand and consumer. Along the way, Halloran shares the secrets behind establishing a mutually beneficial “romance.” Drawing on exclusive, in-depth interviews with managers of some of the world’s most iconic brands, Romancing the Brand arms you with an arsenal of classic and emerging marketing tools—such as benefit laddering and word-of-mouth marketing—that make best-in-class brands so successful. The book is filled with examples, strategies, and tools from powerful brands that consumers love, including Coke, Dos Equis, smartwater, the Atlanta Falcons, Domino’s Pizza, Bounty, Turner Classic Movies, and many more.

Ultimately, Romancing the Brand provides marketers with a set of principles for making brands strong, resilient, and beloved—and the insight and confidence to use them.

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Table of Contents

1 Romance and the Brand 1

2 Know Yourself 21

3 Know Your Type 43

4 Meet Memorably 81

5 Make It Mutual 101

6 Deepen the Connection 123

7 Keep Love Alive 145

8 Making Up 173

9 Breaking Up and Moving On 197

Notes 231

Acknowledgments 239

About the Author 243

Index 245

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Author Information

Tim Halloran is president of Brand Illumination. He has built, directed, and consulted with some of the world's largest brands, at top companies including Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble, Delta Airlines, glacéau (vitaminwater and smartwater), Georgia Pacific, the NBA, and Turner Broadcasting System. His successes include the national launch of Powerade sports drink and its sponsorship of the Olympics, codevelopment of Dasani bottled water, and the development of Coke's first Internet marketing initiative. He was awarded Innovator of the Year by Coca-Cola and named Max Award Finalist for Innovation by Georgia State University. He has taught at Emory University and Mercer University, and he lives in Atlanta with his wife and three children.
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Winner, Business: Marketing & Advertising, 2014 International Book Awards

“Whether you are starting a new business or working on an established brand, Ro­mancing the Brand reveals many critical steps for success. Tim Halloran explores the valued secrets to engaging in an ongoing, compassionate relationship with your consumer. Great read, great insight, great book!”
—Daymond John, founder, president, and CEO, FUBU, and costar, ABC series Shark Tank

“We live in an era of huge changes in marketing and consumer behavior, but Romanc­ing the Brand is a reminder that passion is timeless. Brands can be successful in the long run by cultivating deep, lasting relationships with customers.”
—Steve Koonin, president, Turner Entertainment Networks

“Nobody knows the business of brands better than Tim Halloran. His easy-to-grasp ideas get results.”
—Fran Tarkenton, Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and serial small business entrepreneur

Romancing the Brand provides a new and compelling lens with which to view the work necessary to keep a brand fresh and exciting. We have been able to apply many of the concepts immediately to strengthen our Popeyes brand.”
—Ralph Bower, president–U.S., Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

Romancing the Brand is an entertaining book that taps into a fundamental principle that every marketer should embrace: brands and consumers engage in a relationship. Truly world-class brands are able to grow and evolve a ‘romance,’ and that is when the magic happens.”
—Jeff Popkin, president, Vita Coco

“I loved Romancing the Brand. Tim Halloran shows how the ultimate in brand equi­ty—a close, personal brand relationship—can be created, with detailed behind-the-scenes stories of brands that have pulled it off.”
—David Aaker, vice chairman, Prophet; professor emeritus of marketing strategy, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley; and author, Brand Relevance

“A great book with insightful stories about how marketing managers develop romantic, deep, and personal relationships between the brand and the consumer.”
—Jagdish N. Sheth, Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Marketing, Goizueta Business School, Emory University

Romancing the Brand shows that a brand’s strength, and ultimately its ability to generate significant talk value, lies in creating a meaningful consumer experience. People talk about—and advocate for—brands with which they have an emotional bond. Aided by entertaining stories about brands that have created ‘love affairs’ with the consumer, Romancing the Brand is an essential guide for marketers who are looking to strengthen their consumer relationships.”
—Ed Keller, CEO, the Keller Fay Group, and coauthor, The Face-to-Face Book and The Influentials

“Emotional, educational, and effective, Romancing the Brand captures the timeless fundamentals of marketing, using contemporary examples and a framework one can relate to in a primal way. Tim Halloran shares insights that up-and-coming marketers, as well as global executives at the top of their game, will find valuable.”
—Dick Patton, global chief marketing officer practice leader, Egon Zehnder

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Press Release

January 06, 2014
ROMANCING THE BRAND: How Brands Create Strong, Intimate Relationships with Consumers

 "…Romancing the Brand is a reminder that passion is timeless. Brands can be successful in the long run by cultivating deep, lasting relationships with customers." —Steve Koonin, president, Turner Entertainment Networks


A couple camps overnight outside an Apple store to be first to buy the new iPad. A fan tattoos a Harley Davidson logo on his ankle. A young woman claims her Diet Coke is like her boyfriend. Are they crazy?

No. Research reveals that the connections we make with brands can be as deep and emotional as the relationships we have with other people. With some brands, we have wild, short-term flings. With others, we "fall in love" and enter a mutually beneficial relationship.

In ROMANCING THE BRAND: How Brands Create Strong, Intimate Relationships with Consumers (Feb. 3; Jossey-Bass), brand expert Tim Halloran argues that today’s effective marketer must foster a deep, committed, and emotionally-connected relationship with their consumer base.

While marketers generally excel at wooing customers to try their products in the short term, they often stumble when it comes to keeping the sparks alive in a long-term relationship. To reap the benefits of a romance, Halloran shows you secrets to identifying the right consumer, "meeting" that consumer in the right context, evolving and strengthening the relationship, and, on occasion, deciding when to start over or move on.


Research has proven the importance of meaningful brand-consumer engagement and interaction. We don’t just consume or interact with brands, Halloran notes; we actually engage in relationships with them. With some brands, we have wild,short-term flings, while others stay with us for a lifetime - like family. Some brands offer us strictly utilitarian relationships; they are in our daily lives, yet we have no emotional connection to them.

To win and keep customers in today’s brand environment, marketers must go beyond thinking about consumers as "target markets" simply to achieve awareness, trial and repeated purchases. They need to think about engaging consumers in a long-term relationship.

Halloran shares practical tips for creating and nurturing a genuine brand-consumer relationship with numerous entertaining stories based on firsthand interviews with the marketers of some of the world’s most iconic brands. These lessons include:


Make Them Feel Special: Instead of a "cattle-call" approach, Chick-fil–A introduced its spicy chicken sandwich with reservation based sampling to their most loyal consumers.


Create a Bond: Originally sold out of the back of a car, smartwater leveraged its biggest fans and most influential consumers to spread a message that married its functional benefits (purifies the body) to its consumer’s emotional needs (self-confidence). In just a few years it became the #1 premium water.


Rekindle the Spark: For over a hundred years Coca-Cola has refreshed its romance with its consumers through the magic of storytelling ranging from "I’d like to buy the world a Coke" to "Where will happiness strike next?"


Break Up: By abandoning moms in favor of teen males, Sprite doubled their sales volume in a few years and became the #1 brand among their new consumer group.

Many brands—think Harley Davidson, Apple, or Disney—have successfully created and cultivated a deep emotional connection with their consumer base. But how have they done it? And why does it matter today more than ever? Technology has provided new tools that we don’t fully understand or know how to use – primarily because we are trying to apply them within the context of an outdated way of thinking. We must think about marketing our brands in a completely different way to ultimately achieve success - a way that is fundamentally based upon the brand’s relationship with the consumer. Halloran inspires us to explore new ways to connect with the consumer by creating and nurturing a genuine relationship—one that’s as exciting and enduring as a great romance.

ROMANCING THE BRAND is the definitive guide to cultivating a lasting brand/consumer relationship.



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