I received this card celebrating 10 years of my relationship with an auto Brand A. Hmm. My first reaction was, “Do I need to tell my wife about this?” Then, I realized that two years back I had sold my car and switched to a different brand, Brand B. I thought it was a clear legal break-up but apparently Brand A forgot all about it and their message confused me.

I had to respond back and here is my message:

Dear Brand A,

Thank you for your message. I am sorry that you forgot that I had moved on, two years ago. I also want to point out that we had a good time together, but we never had a relationship.

A relationship to me is all about the depth of connection between two people that evolves over-time. With you, I paid an obscene amount when I bought the car, and even after 10 years my arm still hurts from the way you twisted it during negotiations. Yes, I appreciate the detailed service every 6 months but to be honest, you always charged way more than the market price.

Somehow, I always felt that you were all about you, making more money for yourself, and never paused to ask me how I feel.
I am happy to share that I have found a new car and hope that you too have moved on in life.

Your un-relationship, Arjun

If I asked you about your top relationships; you are likely to mention your family members and close friends. Will you ever mention the name of any brands in that list?


3 Reasons Why We Do Not Have Relationships With Brands

(Yes, we can have purposeful connections)


Reason 1: Relationships are a two-way street

Human relationships have:

  • Mutual respect
  • Mutual trust
  • Mutual affection
  • Two-way communication and shared transparency
  • A common goal, both on equal terms
  • All these are important in a successful relationship.

Business connections are not always two-way and are primarily for the business to win. They use the word “relationship” as they feel it is convenient to project future business potential and connect to long-term financial gain.


Reason 2: Relationships do not have loyalty programs

Humans do not have a measure of loyalty in their relationship; for them, loyalty evolves as relationships become stronger. Have you ever heard of a couple sitting down and documenting their loyalty program?

Businesses use loyalty as a “relationship-pillar” concept and as a measure for the strength of relationships. Loyalty is used as an independent variable, but in fact, in human relationships, it is a dependent variable.


Reason 3: Relationships reach a new level after a “search stops here” moment

Human relationships evolve to the next level after reaching a search-stops-here moment. Once a relationship reaches that moment, it results in a “you are the chosen one” mindset. This means there cannot be any reason or excuse to cheat. The equivalent of this in the business world will be assuring “100% market share of future visits”; which never happens.

When dealing with a business, customers never reach an absolute search stops here moment. They are always in a latently searching mode. A serious error by a business or a significant better promise from competition makes them take notice and ask “Should I switch? Can I do better?” Successful human relationships are not marked by this constant latent need of “Let me check if I can do better?”


How Can A Business Build A Purposeful Connection?

Customers seek “PURPOSEFUL Connections” with businesses that are important parts of their life, not their entire life. A purposeful connection is a thread that has:

  • A PROMISE: That connects with their aspirations and needs. This is where great marketing comes in.
  • An EXPERIENCE: It is important for operations to pick-up on the promise that marketing makes. They must deliver on the promise and beyond. The beyond is important as delivering an OK experience is not memorable. Instead, brands must thrive to go from “OK” to “Good”, from “Good” to “Great” and from “Great” to “WOW, OMG”.
  • A FEELING: A “WOW, OMG” moment will result in a memory in the heart of the customer that stays forever. It triggers return visits and a positive word of mouth.

So, wake up, break the myth that we are seeking relationships with our customers. Instead, see your customers as humans and create that “WOW, OMG” feeling. The path to a successful Feeling Business® is marked by eight words: Be Human, Think Human, Feel Human, Act Human™.

On this note, I’m excited to launch my new book “Feeling Business” in 2021! Stay tuned.


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