Love drives student choices in products, organizations

Note: In college I was an occasional columnist for Georgia Tech's student newspaper, the Technique. Unfortunately, over the course of several website redos, they lost authorship information and many old articles are listed under the name of the editor in chief. I assure you that I'm the actual author of all of these. :)

My next-to-last column for the Technique.

Those of you who have read Kevin Roberts's book, Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands are already familiar with the concept of "loyalty beyond reason." To many of us "geeks" that probably sounds ridiculous: Why would we as people want to have such an emotion towards something as impersonal as a company or a brand, one that makes us act in an illogical way?

I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, however. While ultimately a company's motivation in building these relationships is to get you to buy their products or services, I don't view marketing as an inherent evil. Much of the time I want to be marketed to: Knowing about new products that might be of interest to me adds value to my life, and if someone wants to get that information to me more effectively, I'm more than happy to let them.

After all, the process of creating a Lovemark includes creating superior products and providing customer service that goes above and beyond. When a person has this sort of bond with a company, that usually means they had a particularly fantastic experience. If a company is willing to do that for me, I'm willing to give them my loyalty.

In the column, I ask the question of what it would take to make a student organization a lovemark for people who are not its members, and what that would even mean. Alas, as always, I don't have an answer.

In the meantime, though, there are some companies that are lovemarks of mine: Amazon, Opera, Seagate. These are companies I am loyal to, whom I would buy from and whose products I buy or use. But even more importantly, these are companies I would recommend to my friends and acquaintances without reservation. In exchange for their good treatment of me, I award them not only my business but that of the people I can influence. So, dear readers, what are your lovemarks?

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