Dr Aaron Ahuvia, Understanding Brand Love and Its Implications for Business – Innova.Buzz 577


Dr Aaron Ahuvia, Brand Love Central.

Our guest in this episode is Dr Aaron Ahuvia, a Professor of Marketing at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the world’s leading academic expert on brand love. He has been ranked in the top 2% of all scientists and ranked 22 in the world for research impact in consumer behavior. He has been featured in major media including Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Der Spiegel, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Japan’s Wall Street Journal), National Public Radio’s Marketplace, and the Oprah Winfrey Show. Most recently, he is the author of “The Things We Love: How Our Passions Connect Us and Make Us Who We Are”.

In our conversation Aaron provides insights into the importance of having multiple relationships with customers and avoiding dependency on a single salesperson. He also shares his perspective on productivity, developing expertise, and the role of sleep in intelligence. Some key points we covered are:

  • Understanding how emotional connections to physical objects are formed and how these insights can be used by businesses to create emotional connections with their customers;
  • The evolution of love and its application to products and brands;
  • The importance of measuring brand love and engineering it consciously.

For an illuminating conversation on the psychology of consumer relationships and brand love, listen to the entire podcast.

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Positive experiences with a brand create an emotional connection that inspires loyalty. Dr Aaron Ahuvia on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

Show Notes from this episode with Dr Aaron Ahuvia, University of Michigan

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • Love evolved in animals and serves the purpose of motivating parents to take care of their children and friends to work together effectively.
  • The brain applies ancient mechanisms like love to products and brands, which creates a challenge for managers who want consumers to love their products.
  • Measuring the love for a product is necessary because it needs to be engineered consciously, unlike the love for family which occurs naturally.
  • Prioritize building and maintaining strong relationships with customers and focus on the important tasks to improve productivity and build expertise.
  • Emotionally connecting to physical objects requires positive experiences and is often associated with a positive feeling towards a person.
  • Brands need to go beyond being a tool and beyond providing an exceptional experience to build brand love. They need to create a strong emotional connection.
  • Brands can create emotional connections by associating themselves with a person or having strong human relationships with customers.
  • Companies should not rely on a single person for their relationships with customers or suppliers, as this could create a dependency that is not ideal in case of the person leaving their role or the company.
  • Companies should aim to have multiple people develop relationships with customers and suppliers, while still valuing and maintaining those relationships.
  • Building brand love is expensive and labor-intensive, but may be worthwhile depending on the company’s circumstances and goals. The useful, pleasant, and easy strategy can work better for some companies than building brand love.
Brands can create an emotional connection with a person. Loyalty often comes from human relationships with suppliers, salespeople, or support teams. Dr Aaron Ahuvia on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Aaron’s answers to the questions of our innovation round. Listen to the conversation to get the full scoop.

  1. 1 thing to be more innovative – Get a good night’s sleep. It is crucial for happiness and intelligence!
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Talk to other people about your ideas. It helps in developing and curating those ideas, and sharing ideas often leads to improvements.
  3. Favourite resource – Saying no is the biggest tool for improving productivity as your strategy is defined by what you say no to.
  4. Keep project/client on track – Incremental deadlines, that are attached to some accountability.
  5. Differentiate – Consciously decide to become an expert in something to differentiate yourself and make people associate you with that expertise. The key to becoming an expert is consistently working on something and not stopping.


Have the conversation within your business – are we the useful-pleasant-easy people who focus on distribution, top of mind, advertising, quality products, and keep everything practical; or are we pursuing a strategy that says we’ll develop a real emotional connection between consumers and our brand. It’s not just that they’ll think it’s good, they’ll think it’s good AND that it’s part of their identity and that it’s really important to them.

If you plan for the brand love strategy, you need more than just a quality product. You must create those emotional connections, and that is a complicated and fascinating and super fun business.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Aaron through The Things We Love website.

Suggested Guest

Aaron suggested we have a conversation with Philipp Rauschnabel, expert using augmented reality, virtual reality and the metaverse in marketing and Brittany Hodak, author of Creating Super Fans and on future InnovaBuzz Podcast episodes.



Cool Things About Aaron

  • Aaron has also published extensively on income and happiness. He is currently working on a United Nations report on the applicability of scientific happiness research to public policy.
  • Aaron also holds an appointment at the University of Michigan School of Art and Design.
  • Aaron worked for many years as a peace activist. One of the most important marketing skills is the ability to understand the desires and beliefs of people who are different from ourselves. Honing these skills of really hearing, seeing, and understanding other people has led him to be extensively involved with working for peace in the middle east, working on citizen-to-citizen public diplomacy initiatives between Americans and people living in the middle east and north Africa, and working to reduce political polarization in the US. This work has led him to projects in Oman, Morocco, Pakistan, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Rwanda, Yemen and Libya.
Emotional connections are a crucial component of anything that people love, so brands must focus on creating a positive user experience to build that emotional connection with their customers. Dr Aaron Ahuvia on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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