My son loves roller coasters.\u00a0 Last summer we were visiting Cedar Point for a couple of days to ride coasters.\u00a0 As we waited in line for several hours to get on a coaster, I noticed something astounding.\u00a0 Every person in line was wearing at least one brand on a T-shirt, on a hat, sneakers, back packs, etc.\u00a0 What I realized was that brands were everywhere and they had dedicated fans. Romancing the Brand Shows You How to Build a Brand Relationship Apparently, I wasn\u2019t the only one who saw how powerfully some brands connect with their customers.\u00a0 A few months ago, I received an advanced review copy of Romancing the Brand: How Brands Create Strong, Intimate Relationships with Consumers by Tim Halloran. Tim Halloran\u00a0(@TheBrandGuyTim)\u00a0is the president of Brand Illumination.\u00a0 He has built, directed and consulted with some of the world\u2019s largest brands.\u00a0 As part of this work, he\u2019s done incredible amounts of research around brands and the relationship that customers have with their brands. This book is a compilation of that research as well as a number of case studies and stories that will pull back the curtain on some of your favorite ad campaigns (like \u201cThe Most Interesting Man in the World\u201d).\u00a0 From each of these stories you\u2019ll get a meaningful lesson as well as some interesting insider tidbits that you can share with friends and learn from. Personally, I was attracted to reading this book because I think it addresses a very important trend for small business owners of all sizes - building a brand that is relateable and connects with customers is a critical success factor to your business. The 4 Lessons Every Brand Should Learn In Romancing the Brand, Halloran shares practical tips that the big brands use to create a nurturing and authentic relationship between your brand and your customer.\u00a0 The three over-arching lessons in the book are: Make your customer feel special.\u00a0 You\u2019ll see how Chick-fil-A introduced their spicy chicken sandwich based on a sampling to their most loyal customers. Create a bond.\u00a0 The example Halloran features for this lesson is \u201cSmartwater, a brand that was not new in the water category, yet was able to leverage their biggest fans to spread its message powerfully enough to become the #1 premium water." Rekindle the spark.\u00a0 Perhaps the most well known brand on the planet, Coca-Cola, uses the power of storytelling to reignite the passion for its product with their \u201cWhere will happiness strike next?\u201d message. Break Up.\u00a0 Sometimes you have to abandon one market segment for another.\u00a0 See how Sprite broke up with their original audience of moms to focus on teen boys and doubled their sales. The 8 Steps to Romancing the Brand Can Work for Small Business Too Through his research, Halloran has outlined eight specific steps to create a bonded relationship between you and your brand.\u00a0 Each of these eight steps serves as a chapter and contains several examples that you can use as inspiration and apply to your business. On the surface, you might think that all of these strategies are great for big brands with multi-million dollar budgets, but don\u2019t despair.\u00a0 As you read through each chapter, you will find tips and nuggets that you can apply to your small business as well. Let\u2019s go through the nine steps here and see how it works: Know yourself.\u00a0 This is a step that is often overlooked.\u00a0 So many businesses focus on the customer first.\u00a0 This is important, but if you want your customer to build a relationship with you, you have to know yourself first.\u00a0 If you don\u2019t know who you are as a brand, how can you expect your customer to connect with you? Know your type.\u00a0 Now that you know yourself, you can start focusing on who your ideal customer is.\u00a0 The trick is to so clearly identify this ideal customer profile, that they feel that this brand was literally made for them. Meet memorably.\u00a0 Like in any relationship, first impressions are critical.\u00a0 The first few meetings between your brand and your customer will determine if you have potential. Make it mutual.\u00a0 Aim for the influencers in your industry.\u00a0 Those brand evangelists will help you spread the word. Deepen the connection.\u00a0 Continuously give your ideal customer what they want and need to feel that you are the brand for them.\u00a0 That you were meant to be together. Keep love alive.\u00a0 Keep rejuvenating the relationship.\u00a0 Stay true to your value, your story and your message \u2013 but keep it fresh and new. Making up.\u00a0 Like any relationship, there are bound to be bumps and disappointments.\u00a0 Make sure that you handle these with grace and in a way that shows that you love and respect your customer. Breaking up.\u00a0 To everything there is a season.\u00a0 And not every brand relationship has to last forever.\u00a0 Know when it\u2019s time to move on, recalibrate and move to a new customer or eliminate the brand, taking your lessons and moving forward toward new relationships. How to Get the Most Out of Romancing the Brand If you pick up a copy of this book, you will probably do one of two things. You will read the book, enjoy the case studies and think about the different ways that you can apply this to your business. Or you will dive right in, grab a notebook and when you get to a lesson that you can apply to your business. You will write that idea down, schedule it and put it in place. My biggest concern is that this book will do nothing more than entertain you.\u00a0 My biggest hope is that you\u2019ll take the road less traveled and apply the lessons to your brand and reap the rewards that come from the lessons you\u2019ve learned in this book.