Corporate Eye

Creating a Relationship Brand

What is a relationship brand? In simplest terms, a relationship brand is one that holds widespread appeal among consumers but still allows each individual consumer to experience the brand in his or her own unique way. Relationship brands have an inherent sense of belonging attached to them. In other words, each customer experiences the brand individually but at the same time, likes knowing he or she is part of a larger group who experiences the brand together.

Creating a relationship brand doesn’t happen overnight. For example, look at a brand like Mac from Apple. Actually, Apple, itself, is a great example of a relationship brand, but let’s just look at Mac right now. While still far behind the PC in terms of market share, the Mac has grown significantly in recent years as the marketing team behind the brand realized the value in the relationship customers have with the brand and with each other as part of a group experiencing the brand together.

In recent years, the marketing plan for Mac has changed to fully leverage it as a relationship brand while setting it apart from the PC at the same time with its Mac Guy vs. PC Guy commercials. Suddenly, Macs became not just the graphic designer’s computer of choice, but it became the hot brand that every consumer had to get to be part of the cool clique. A relationship brand strategy works extremely well for market followers who are chasing the market leader.

Creating a relationship brand can bring great rewards in the long term. Relationship brands drive word-of-mouth marketing and deep customer loyalty, both of which lead to increased sales and profits.

Take a look at your brand. Are there opportunities to change consumers’ perceptions of it in order to make it a relationship brand?

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

Interesting Article.
I would love to hear your thoughts on how a company could go about creating a relationship brand.
Engaging the customers via Social Media could be one, but then again that is not followed by the biggest relationship brand of them all Apple.


I’ll follow up this week with a post containing strategies and tactics to develop a relationship brand. Thanks for visiting!

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