Brand love is becoming central to modern marketing theory and practice. In academia, researchers are showing an increasing interest in investigating its causes and consequences (see, for example, Bairrada, Coelho, & Coelho, 2018; Carroll & Ahuvia, 2006). In practice, a growing number of branding consultancies and advertising agencies like Accenture Interactive/Fjord, BERA Brand Management (see Barker, Peacock, & Fetscherin, 2015), Drumroll, Oath, and NetBase are presently proposing love scores, love indices, and love rankings for brands.
Most conceptualizations of brand love offer it as a relationship between the consumer and the brand (for a review, see Junaid, Hussain, & Hou, 2019). For instance, Keh, Pang, and Peng (2007) define brand love "as the intimate, passionate, and committed relationship between a customer and a brand" (p. 84). Heinrich, Albrecht, and Bauer (2012), equally, conceive brand love as "a consumer's love relationship to a brand that can be characterized by the interplay of intimacy, passion, and commitment to that brand" (p. 139). For BERA Brand Management, love between consumers and brands passes though five phases termed "new," "dating," "love," "boredom," and "divorce" (Barker et al., 2015). The problem with such definitions and conceptualizations is that they are built on the ill-founded assumption that brand love is identical to interpersonal love (Romaniuk, 2013, 2015). An assumption that is untenable according to findings in Langner, Schmidt, and Fischer (2015). A brand, asBengtsson(2003) so aptly observes, "is an inanimate object and cannot think or feel" (p. 154). As such, it cannot become an active partner with the consumer in a real relationship. The construction of the brand as a relationship partner is just a metaphor, a researcher metaphor to be more precise. It is a metaphor used by Fournier (1998) to explain brand perceptions (Avis, Aitken, & Ferguson, 2012). Referring to her theory on consumer-brand relationships, Fournier (1998) covertly confesses that she used a metaphor and states that "metaphors must be judged by the depth and breadth of the thoughts they spark" (p. 368). Many researchers and practitioners seem to have forgotten that issue and embarked in defining the brand love concept as a relationship.