Consumers today will engage in a much deeper relationship with their favorite brands than most marketers realize, according to the new Edelman Brand Relationship Index. And once they do, they will reward those brands with significant bottom-line rewards: they will buy first, pay more, stay loyal, advocate for and defend that brand.

Globally, the average brand has barely begun to realize this opportunity. Scoring just 38 out of a possible 100, the strength of the average  consumer-brand relationship falls far short of its full potential. (You can see the scores for individual countries and brand categories on Edelman’s 2016 Earned Brand research page.)

The most important thing about this graphic? Look at all that white space to the right of the score!

And if you think that your brand may not have an opportunity to earn a strong consumer relationship because it is too boring, too bland, or too utilitarian, think again. In every one of the 18 brand categories we studied, some portion of consumer relationships had reached the “Committed” stage, ranging from eight percent for over-the-counter medications, to 17 percent for social media brands.

So what is it about some brands that allows them to create such a strong bond? We asked 13,000 consumers around the world what it is that makes their favorite brand special to them. And when we compared the responses for consumers who described themselves as being in a “Involved” brand relationship to those who described a deeper “Committed” relationship, the differences are striking.

Here are the 10 brand actions that increased the most in their importance to Committed consumers, when compared to Involved, ranked with the largest incremental increase at top:

  • Part of my social media landscape
  • Enhances the bonds I have with my friends
  • Maintains ongoing conversation with me
  • Invites me to play part in its innovation process
  • Significant source of enjoyment in my life
  • There for me at a tough time in my life
  • Helps me express myself
  • It provides a connection platform
  • I get a lot of respect for owning & using it
  • It seems to really understand me

What do these 10 brand behaviors have in common? These statements describe brands that understand the power of four fundamental truths about relationships:

  1. Strong relationships require a consistent presence, whether on social media, through ongoing conversations, or by “being there” when the going gets tough.
  1. Being in a relationship with me means being part of my social circle — enhancing my existing friendships and connecting me to a larger community.
  1. Great relationships enhance my identity: brands that share my values, understand me, help me express my identity or help me earn more respect are adding immense value to my life.
  1. Doing things together Strong brand relationships are based on shared action — these brands not only bring enjoyment to my life, they also invite me to play a role in their innovation process.

A consistent presence, a social community, shared values, shared actions. How well does your brand strategy deliver against these four principles of strong consumer-brand relationships?

Tonia Ries is the executive director of Edelman Square, Edelman’s intellectual property center.