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Branding – What Tinder Can Teach Your Brand

Marketers and branding agencies had it easy back in the day. We didn’t have to worry too much about online brand reviews, tweets, or Facebook likes. We launched advertising campaigns, sales took place, or not, and that was it. It was heyday.

Just like online dating, branding trends have been undergoing a shift over the past few years. There is a focus towards a more personal, connective state, effectively rendering the above branding or marketing model obsolete and irrelevant. Attention spans are also getting shorter. Things have been reduced down to swiping left or right to match with someone, and it’s a trend that applies to brands as well. Fighting for attention is becoming a holy grail.

We, agency folk and marketers, used to approach branding with a colour scheme choice, using the right font, imagery and ensuring an exclusion zone around the logo is maintained.

But new rules of engagement have emerged. The old branding trends lived in a return on investment (ROI) universe. Which by modern day realities, is limited and doesn’t give business owners and their marketing teams the bigger picture.

As Andy Frawley argues, a better measuring model is required. He likes to call it the “Return on Experience” or the ROE2 model. He goes on to explain that the ROI model was prevalent before the plethora of digital channels we have today.

These channels represent a massive world of touch points & experiences for both potential and current customers. In the modern dating world, people connect now by swiping right or left, or based on proximity. New experiences and channels are born every day for both daters and brands.

It’s a fight for survival. Whether it’s a business owner or a marketer.

They both want a more holistic measure of consumers’ total brand experience and their level of engagement.

We live in an era of quality lifestyles, and in constant pursuit of happiness. We buy and consume products or brands mainly because they make us feel good. They allow us to enjoy a better quality of life; they provoke certain emotions within us.

These emotions are triggered normally by the experiences we have with a certain brand. But what does this mean for marketers or business owners?

This means that marketers will need to measure human emotions to ensure a positive return on experience. However, it’s more difficult to quantify the human emotion created by brands than simpler metrics like number of share or page views, but it isn’t impossible.

A dilemma, right? Not really.

I am often asked by clients about the best possible means to measure human emotions. Someone should invent a breathalyser to measure that I say.

Jokes aside, and from my experience, I often refer to and explain the “Emotional Value Metrics” model. This model utilises 3 indirect proxy metrics. My clients’ use them to discover how their customers are identifying with their brands.


The 3 key metrics are: interaction, engagement & participation. 

They are small tests that marketers can readily use. These tests will help identify which of your branding trends & efforts are positively perceived by your customer base and why.

Marketers will be able to dig a bit deeper. They will understand which messaging resonates best with a certain customer segment in the real world.

Let’s examine these three metrics more closely shall we:



A new mental model of marketing has been steadily gaining ground recently. Marketers started measuring how customer interfaced with their brand messaging at a diverse range of touch points.

This is basically when someone opens your email, views a web page, downloads an eBook…you get the idea. These mini actions are what we call Interactions. Measuring them is simple. Has a customer watched a video? Liked your Facebook page? Liked a tweet?

Marketers should think of this as the non-exclusive start of a relationship between the brand and customers. This is like when you swipe right on Tinder and match with someone, it doesn’t mean you’re meeting the parents next week.

On Tinder, singles out there put some of their best pictures to lure in a great match. The guys at Google like to call this the ZMOT, or the “Zero Moment of Truth”.

As the following illustration explains, marketers should make sure that they’re winning their brand’s ZMOT and first point of interaction.

The second row in the graph shows a CRITICAL closed loop feedback. Where the customer experience with the brand, which we need to measure, will determine the next customer’s ZMOT.

Marketers need to get both of them right. Hence, they really need to start measuring the emotional value their brands enjoy at the experience end of things.

Unfortunately, this is where many companies make mistakes. They gain a 100K Facebook or IG followers. Then stop!

I get it, it’s a big numbers game and it feels good. But just like on Tinder, marketers shouldn’t start planning a wedding when they first match with someone. The hard work is just about to start. You now need to come up with a kickass opening line to stand out and keep your match interested.

Don’t mistake interaction for the depth that emotional-value can and should attain.



I will continue to use the same Tinder analogy because it fits the purpose of this article to a great extent.

Let’s say you’ve swiped right and matched with someone. You came up with a kickass opening line that had your match in stitches, and they responded by saying “Oh…you’re so funny ;)”

Well done, you’ve cracked the ice and engaged them. Give yourself a high five. But don’t start picking your kids names yet.

From a branding and marketing perspective, engagement is about the quality of the interaction and how far someone is willing to go once they’ve interacted with your brand.

Marketers can simply measure engagement by paying attention to how customers react to what your brands is asking of them.

Are they willing to share their emails? Are they commenting on your posts? Are they tagging someone on your Instagram post? Is your Tinder match willing to share a phone number or meet for coffee?

Marketers watch out and practice caution here. Engagement, while being a good indication of your brand’s emotional-value, it also can be deceivingly temporary.

Just like on Tinder, if your chat stagnates at the engagement level with your match, all it takes is someone who’s funnier and better looking to entice your match away from you.

Engagement alone cannot sustain your emotional-value in the long run. To do that, you require participation.



This is the holy grail of any brand’s emotional-value, and unfortunately one of the most difficult things to measure. So, marketers have to be creative. There is no one size fits all measurement tool.

Participation happens when someone takes certain steps or actions to exhibit and demonstrate their passion about your brand.

For example, how many times have you seen pictures like the below on your friend’s Facebook feed?

You probably liked and commented on it. You were proud of your friend or family member. They might have also inspired you to partake in one, because you are that kind of person, right?

That’s participation at its best. When brands have their fans do the work for them. They have successfully turned customers into brand catalysts. You should stick this branding trend on your forehead.

When your Tinder match starts taking cute selfies with you and post them on Facebook, you instantly know that sh** just got real. They are engaged and participating in the relationship, and better yet announcing how great they feel about it because you’re such a cutie and an overall ace of a person.

Marketers sometimes favour their brand’s functional-value at the expense of its emotional value. Of course, you should obsess about your brand’s functional value in the market, because it exists to solve a certain problem.

But that’s not how loyalty and brand allegiances are built, which is what you need for your brand to reach or fulfil its potential. You are in the business of building relationships now. And these are the branding trends and metrics that will continue to grow and dominate the marketing domain.

Be authentic and consistent, and most importantly be human.

Remember we all buy certain brands because of how they make us feel, and they’re often a statement that we make on a daily basis about ourselves.

So, make sure you offer value, just like you would in your human relationships or with your Tinder dates.

Happy marketing!