It’s February, which means Valentine’s Day is upon us and, for many, love is in the air. The deeper question however, is this – do consumers love your bank or credit union?

Notice I didn’t say the word like. It’s too easy for a consumer to like a particular product, service or retailer. Many people, for example, might say they like a particular motorcycle but typically only Harley-Davidson owners will jump up on a table, proudly show you their logo tattoo and proclaim undying love for their bike.

Similarly, lots of consumers may say they like a particular cell phone, but you don’t find many people camping out on sidewalks four hours (if not days) in advance of a new phone launch like you do Apple fans.

Obviously, love plays into the notion of particularly strong brands. And while potential institutions may not outwardly seem to have the same potential feel for consumers, with the right people and the right brand, they can achieve the status of a loved brand.

What are some ways that you can inject the idea of love into your bank or credit union brand? First, run your brand through the love – respect axis. This is a terrific book and website that explains the deeper idea of loving a brand and will give you great insight on how members/consumers feel about your financial institution. Second, develop a staff that openly loves your brand. If your staff doesn’t love the brand, they won’t live in front of consumers and those consumers will quickly pick up on the inauthenticity of your brand. Lastly, make your brand fun. Fun brands are easier to love. Harley-Davidson and Apple are good examples of this. Other popular brands (some of which, like financial institutions, may not seem overly open to the notion of love) that do the job include Charmin, Old Spice and Taco Bell. And check out their social media sites (particularly Twitter) to get a better feel for how they inject fun and love into brand.

If you don’t think a financial institution is a retailer for which consumers and feel love, think again. Many banks and credit unions, with a deep dive into branding, have developed cultures which consumers love. A great example of this is USAA.

No doubt about it, in our competitive modern financial services environment, it’s simply not good enough to be “liked” anymore. If your consumers don’t love you, they don’t have much a reason to stick with you. Therefore, it is critical banks and credit unions create brands that develop lovesick consumers, not those that are merely satisfied with their products and services.