Lover Brands and Love Triangles

By exploring the psychology of love in depth, we can find inspiration on how to build strong archetypal Lover brands.

In popular writing on archetypal branding, the Lover brand is commonly represented as a sensual female character - often a movie star, such as Marilyn Monroe, or an attractive model personifying a brand such as Victoria’s Secret. Of course, we all know that there are many different types of love: parents love their children, we love our friends and we even ‘love’ chocolate! However, the frequent link to sexuality means people often think about the Lover archetype in a very stereotypical way.

Dive deeper to find archetypes not stereotypes

There are some fascinating insights on types of love and how to be a good lover hidden in the vaults of academic research. For years, we’ve been capturing these insights and turning them into tools to help businesses build strong Lover brands.

One of our most powerful tools is inspired by Sternberg’s triangular theory of love.

The triangle of intimacy, passion and commitment

Sternberg’s theory describes three dimensions of love:

intimacy, encompassing closeness and connectedness;

passion, related to romance and physical attraction;

commitment, linked to the decision to maintain love longer-term.

We use this model to explore and define more precisely what behaviors a brand needs to succeed in different Lover roles.

Romantic Love

A romantic lover is positioned on the base of our love triangle. To communicate romantic love, a brand needs to emphasize passion and intimacy using behaviors such as touching and sharing. A brand that does this brilliantly is Haagen-Dazs by linking passion to product pleasure.


In contrast to romance, friendship or companionate love focuses on commitment and intimacy on the right-hand slope of our triangle, Brands can emphasize this aspect of love by showing loyalty and sharing time together without the overt passion of romantic love. Again, Haagen-Dazs manages this very well, extending their portrayal of love into aspects of friendship where appropriate.


Varieties of Love

By combining commitment, passion and intimacy in different relative strengths, we can find many different types of love. So, there are many roles that a Lover brand can play, some squarely in romantic love, some sharing the protective nature and commitment of a Caregiver or Ruler toward the top of the triangle and some closely related to the companionship of the Everyman archetype. The triangular model is a simple but powerful tool to help you position your Lover brand more precisely.

Using the triangular model

To get a better definition of your brand's role in the Lover territory, use the triangular model to map the combination of commitment, passion and intimacy you are delivering.

Check that it relates to customer needs. Are you delivering the right combination?

Finally, if you have competitors who are also playing a Lover role, make sure that you own the definition of love in your category by delivering it in a distinctive and superior way.

Take a look at opento's Marquetypes products to use tools like this in developing your brand positioning.


Sternberg, R.J. (1986) A Triangular Theory of Love. Psychological Review, Vol. 93, No. 2, 119-135

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