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Six patterns or markers that are consistently present, in part or in whole, among intimate brands that identify the character and nature of ultimate brand relationships. Archetype scores can vary, with average scores generally being between 25-30.


Green and red arrows are found on the profile pages of brands which have been included in our study in prior years. The arrows indicate whether a brand has declined (red) or improved (green) from its previous performance.

Artificial Intelligence

The ability of computers, machines, and systems to mimic or augment problem-solving and decision-making.

Behavioral Science

The study of human behavior and actions. This includes a variety of disciplines like sociology, anthropology, psychology and behavioral aspects of biology, economics, geography and political science.

Big Data

Large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.


Bonding is when an attachment is created and the relationship between a person and a brand becomes more significant and committed. This is a stage of acceptance and the establishment of trust. Should this stage advance, it would move to fusing.

Brand Images

Curated images that reflect how the brand represents itself, its products, services, models, and experiences.

Brand Intimacy

The emotional science that measures the bonds we form with the brands we use and love.

Brand Intimacy Model

Quantitative research helped determine our Brand Intimacy Model, which comprises five key components that each contribute toward building ultimate brand relationships. The model culminates in a Brand Intimacy Quotient, a score each brand receives indicating its performance.

Brand Intimacy Quotient

The score assigned to each brand from 1-100. The Quotient is based on prevalence (the percent of users who are intimate), intensity (where the relationship is on the spectrum of three stages, sharing, bonding, fusing) and character (performance on key archetypes). It is a shorthand score that demonstrates how a brand is performing relative to its ability to create ultimate brand relationships and enables comparisons to other brands in the same category or to the industry average.

Can’t Live Without

This is a previously-used measure based on a ten-point scale that determines how essential a brand is to our lives. One on this scale means “I could easily live without this brand,” while 10 equals “I would find it extremely difficult to live without this brand.”  The results are a top-two box score.


A summary measure of the archetype ratings where the archetypes are weighted according to their influence in the category.

Cognitive Intimacy

This is one of four forms of intimacy. It is linked to communication, an open exchange of ideas, and the exploration of similarities and differences in them. This results in feeling an intellectual connection.

Damasio, Antonio

Prominent neuroscientist and author of several books that explore the relationship between the brain and consciousness. His prominent research has highlighted the central role emotions play in social cognition and decision making.

Dual System Theory

Dual-system models of the human mind contrast automatic, fast, and non-conscious (System 1) with controlled, slow, and conscious (System 2) thinking.

Emotional Bonds

It is through emotion that we make decisions. We form meaningful relationships with people, things, and even brands. The depth and degree of these bonds between consumers and brands are measured in the stages of Brand Intimacy.

Emotional Intimacy

This is one of four forms of intimacy. It is related to the mutual sharing of innermost feelings. The outcome is a feeling of being understood and accepted as an individual.


Customers become better through use of the brand—smarter, more capable, and more connected.

Erikson, Erik (D. 1994)

A German-born American psychologist known for his theory on psychosocial development of human beings.


Part of MBLM’s branding framework. Essence is the foundation of your brand, architected for greater impact by creating an ownable force of attraction and connection.


Part of MBLM’s branding framework. Experience is orchestrating elevated, personalized, memorable brand experiences, in more places, across more devices.

Experiential Intimacy

This is one of four forms of intimacy. It is related to being involved in activities that produce shared behaviors. The outcome is a feeling of being part of a special group; togetherness and camaraderie.

Forms of Intimacy

Writer and researcher Beverly Golden has developed four “faces” or forms of intimacy. These include physical, emotional, cognitive, and experiential.


How often a person uses a brand. Previously, we measured this across daily usage, weekly, several times a month, once a month, or less than once a month.


Exceeds expectations, delivering superior service, quality and efficacy.


Fusing is when a person and a brand are inexorably linked and co-identified. In this stage the identities of the person and the brand begin to merge and become a form of mutual realization and expression.


Cognitive shortcuts that make decision making or problem solving easier.


Reflects an aspirational image or admired values and beliefs that resonate deeply.


The opposing state to intimacy. Indifference is irrelevance and detachment. Indifference can happen along any stage of the journey toward intimacy and is a risk that needs to be considered at all times.


Creates a close relationship centered around moments of pampering and gratification that can be occasional or frequent.


A psychological articulation of establishing a close connection. The ability to fuse your identity with someone else’s without the fear that you are going to lose yourself is the commonly accepted definition by Erik Erikson.

Kahneman, Daniel

An Israeli-American psychologist and winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Kahneman is known for work on the psychology of judgment and decision making. His book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” addresses the dichotomy between two modes of thought: System 1 is fast, instinctive and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberate, and more logical. He believes most decisions are based on emotion and rationalized later as judgment.


Themes or topics the brand is identified with on social media platforms.


A traditional marketing measure perceived to be most desired among customers. Ehrenberg Bass has demonstrated the impact of loyalty is overstated and those buyers/users are not the most valuable to a business.


A construct or framework developed to showcase specific marketing ideas or approaches.

Net Promoter Score

Is a well-known index that is traditionally used to measure loyalty of one’s customers. Net Promoter Scores range from -100 to 100 and measure a customer’s willingness to recommend a company to others.

New Paradigm

The way we think about Brand Intimacy. It offers a new approach to marketing today versus traditional models and approaches developed decades ago. Brand Intimacy is a new paradigm because it leverages advances in neuroscience and behavioral science, leverages technology, and takes into account changing consumer behavior.


Focuses on memories of the past and the warm, poignant feelings associated with them. These are often brands a customer has grown up with.

Physical Form of Intimacy

This is one of four forms of intimacy. It is associated with a sensual or sexual connection where people feel safe while being vulnerable. The outcome is a feeling of physical unity.

Price Resilience

This is a measure we have used to indicate what percentage of total users would be willing to pay 20 percent more for a brand’s products and services. We find overall, the more intimate the brand, the more people are willing to a pay premium.

Related Brands

Brands that are under same the ownership or are directly related as sub-brands or part of a branded family.


When a person ingrains a brand into his or her daily actions. It is more than just habitual behavior. The brand becomes a vitally important part of daily existence.


Sharing is when the person and the brand engage and interact. There is knowledge being shared, and the person is informed about what the brand is all about, and vice versa. At this stage, attraction occurs through reciprocity and assurance. Should the relationship advance, it would evolve to bonding. Should it decline, it would likely cause disengagement fueled by indifference.


Stages identify the depth and degree of intensity in the relationship between a consumer and a brand. There are three stages of intimacy with criteria for each progression: sharing, bonding, and fusing. Typically scores decrease as you move from sharing to fusing.


Part of MBLM’s branding framework. Story helps shape a strong narrative and is becoming increasingly important as brands engage in more reciprocity and social marketing channels.

Strong Emotional Connection

A strong emotional connection is a key requirement and the foundation of intimacy. We believe the greater the emotional connection between a brand and consumer, the more powerful the relationship. A strong emotional connection is determined by a series of attributes and language expressions that establish positive feelings a user has toward a brand and the extent to which a person associates the brand with key attributes.

System 1

Quick, instinctive, emotional thinking. System 1 simplifies information resulting in fast and easy decisions.

System 2

More considered and deliberate thinking processes. System 2 is thought to merely “rubber stamp” System 1 decisions.


We define the user of our quantitative studies as someone intimate with the brand who has engaged with or repeatedly tried it. Users in our big data studies are those who describe their experiences and relationship with the brand in emotional terms.