Building Brand Love -- The Purpose Behind Purpose -- Tom Troja

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The announcement by Walmart that they are investing $50,000,000,000 into American manufacturing over the next ten years triggered in my brain the Bonnie Raitt classic song, “Something to Talk About.”

Why would Walmart be spending this enormous amount of money now? Why would Walmart decide now that the best way they can invest $50 billion is in American manufacturing? What tea leaves are they looking at? What insights do they have?

They see the power of reputation everyday, of people texting, sharing, posting, talking, and spreading opinions, facts and emotions like wildfire on social tools. They realize to win in the future that they need to activate their full brand purpose, not to just help people save money but to accentuate how Walmart helps people live a better life.


This mystery conversation around the $50B in the end, makes Walmart look good because it truly is good. The chatter about the why they put up $50B will get lost in the good it achieves over time. They must migrate their brand purpose to communicate that people don’t just want the cheapest price; they also want Uncle Billy to get a job.

This gets to the root of the conversation about Walmart and the press they have received that they have been a key driver of jobs leaving the US. It gets at what people truly care about… each other, their community and their country. Walmart is truly trying to reverse that trend of outsourcing, by building community and making heartfelt connections with people.

Walmart’s purpose: “We save people money so they can live a better life” is made stronger, broader, deeper, more defensible and critically, more real in this social world. The bet is that they can bend the narrative, that they can create a new conversation, a positive narrative at the same time that social explodes and becomes more dominant in all our lives over the next ten years. The $50B is an investment not a donation.


My company, the Social Symphony, presented at the ANA in New York last week to a members only group of brand managers. The topic was “Building Brand Love.” When we asked each manager how they felt when people told them they loved their brand, they universally replied with a big smile a sense of accomplishment, of relief, of satisfaction. They loved it.

When we asked them, how do you build brand love in social everyday, it felt confusing, uncomfortable. We were speaking of love in a language not typical within the marketing lexicon. Not serious. Talking about building brand love was something their culture did not support. That culture finds comfort in talking about a new campaign, a cool slogan, a video, a big idea and all with legal approval. Does that sound like true love?

The insight in this social age is that it feels great and it’s easy to accept love but giving love can be much harder. How does a brand show their love with authenticity, with truth in a way that will draw more and more people towards them and generate their love to attract more and more people? If a brand can build the capability to make people feel love from them, they will be more successful using social channels. Now your love is viral.


Our big opportunity today is the availability of people’s attention on multiple social platforms where brands can make deeper and richer connections and build and grow relationships over time. To win, brands need to create a mindset and a language internally so that they will always be appropriate, meaningful, always resonate, and always strike a chord everyday, day in and day out.

This is building brand love people to people. Done right, people will feel it, be moved and share their passion, their emotion, their life, their humanity.

And that feels like true love.

As CEO of the Social Symphony, Tom Troja works with brands like Jack Daniel's and Red Bull to help them create and deepen relationships with people in social, implementing his SocialTom TrojaArchetyping™ that gets brands talking like a person, talking with people, natural, attractive, human and capable. Tom can be reached at

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