Most people probably don’t know why we celebrate Valentine’s Day and might be even more surprised to learn that Valentine’s Day stems from an old tradition honoring the martyrdom (beheading) of a Christian Martyr; Saint Valentine around 300 AD, and has little to nothing to do with romance. Needless to say, the origins of this Holiday are very far removed from the modern day Valentine’s Day where people of all ages exchange gifts, cards and affection; in fact The American Greeting Card Association estimates that 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent every year.
Historians speculate that the love connection did not even appear until about 1000 years after the Martyr’s death, and the truth is the origins of Valentine’s Day are quite gory. Sometime somewhere in 15th Century England; poets and nobility began using the bird mating season of February and Valentine’s Day as an excuse to send love notes to their objects of desire. Subsequently, chocolate manufacturers caught wind of this and began marketing “sweets for one’s sweetheart” on Valentine’s day.
So modern day Valentine's Day is in a sense a completely fabricated Holiday and perhaps one of the longest running marketing campaigns in history. And that’s great news for any business owner. Many might wrinkle their noses at the idea of fabricated Holidays, but as someone (you, the business owner) trying to reach a customer it’s important to look past that and understand our innate love for tradition, festivities and nostalgia.
We’re not suggesting that you try to make up a Holiday, something like that can’t be forced and needs to “go viral” - which we’re assuming was the 15th century equivalent of what happened to Valentine’s day.
But we urge you to examine your brand this February from the perspective of telling a love story to your customers. What emotions does your brand evoke? What kind of emotions do you want it to evoke? What character does your brand play in the role of your customers’ lives? Are you a fling? A long-term companion? Do you want to evoke tender loyalty or intense passion?
Just as we have an obsession with a fabricated Holiday, we fall in love with our favorite brands. Research has actually shown that there is a mourning period when a well-loved brand or TV-show comes to an end. Our favorite brands and products become intricate parts of our lives, they become friends, confidants, they remind us of a special event or season, perhaps bring us back to romanticized times of our lives. When we understand what role we play in our customers’ lives and what their emotional relationship is with us we are able to build a much stronger brand presence and connection, and instead of focusing on marketing to our customers, we understand that that relationship is a delicate love story constantly unfolding.