Saturday, August 11, 2007

Love means never having to say "I wan't my money back!"

What do you do when a cup of coffee no longer gives you that jolt of energy? You graduate to Jolt Cola. When regular cocaine won't sustain that high? You move up to crack.

What do marketing executives do when consumers don't respond to brands like they used to? You move them up to Lovemarks - the future beyond brands:

Brands have run out of juice. More and more people in the world have grown to expect great performance from products, services and experiences. And most often, we get it. Cars start first time, fries are always crisp, dishes shine.

A few years ago, Saatchi & Saatchi looked closely at the question: What makes some brands inspirational, while others struggle?

And we came up with the answer: Lovemarks: the future beyond brands.

How do I know a Lovemark?

Lovemarks transcend brands. They deliver beyond your expectations of great performance. Like great brands, they sit on top of high levels of respect - but there the similarities end.

Lovemarks reach your heart as well as your mind, creating an intimate, emotional connection that you just can’t live without. Ever.

Take a brand away and people will find a replacement. Take a Lovemark away and people will protest its absence. Lovemarks are a relationship, not a mere transaction. You don’t just buy Lovemarks, you embrace them passionately. That’s why you never want to let go.

Put simply, Lovemarks inspire Loyalty Beyond Reason

The Hallmarks of a Lovemark

At the core of every Lovemark is Respect. No Respect? It’s not a Lovemark. It’s as simple as that. Check out the Love/Respect Axis and see just where your favourite brand is sitting.

A Lovemark’s high Love is infused with these three intangible, yet very real, ingredients: Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy.

Mystery draws together stories, metaphors, dreams and symbols. It is where past, present and future become one.

Mystery adds to the complexity of relationships and experiences because people are drawn to what they don’t know. After all, if we knew everything, there would be nothing left to learn or to wonder at.

Sensuality keeps the five senses on constant alert for new textures, intriguing scents and tastes, wonderful music. Sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste.

Our senses work together to alert us, lift us, transport us. When they are stimulated at the same time, the results are unforgettable. It is through the five senses we experience the world and create our memories.

Intimacy means empathy, commitment and passion. The close connections that win intense loyalty as well as the small perfect gesture. These are often remembered long after functions and benefits have faded away.

Without Intimacy people cannot feel they own a brand, and without that conviction a brand can never become a Lovemark.

I found this website from the intranet site of the client company I am currently working for, a large financial services firm. They have started their own campaign to make their brand a Lovemark.

Even for a committed materialist like myself, this crosses a boundary. This isn't so much marketing, it's religion. Or it's religion in the service of marketing, or an unholy marriage of transcendent yearning and corporate strategy. As much as I disagree with traditional religion, I at least respect its focus on important, fundamental things like community and morality. But even traditional religion has become increasingly commercialized, so it only follows that commerce would inevitably get religious. They both want the same thing: mindshare.

But the people at Lovemarks, outside the boxers as they are, aren't limiting their calling to the traditional boundaries of products and services. Anything, or anyone, can be a Lovemark. People, places and things - anything that can serve as the object of love. Here's a testimonial on author and Lovemark nominee Arundhati Roy:
Breathtaking images

Arundhati Roy. Her debut novel "The God of Small Things" is an exotic reading experience for any Malayali (People of Kerala) or any English reader. Keen intriguing insight into human behaviour pattern. Breathtaking images. Simple and structured beauty of prismatic – sensuous words and nuances. Besides her writing, her activism for greater common good for people transformed her status as an engaging political interferer who represents a good human cause. Arundhathi is an activist and a writer Lovemark of India and the world.

Interferer? Bleccch! She's also an anti-American apologist for international terror. On a less political note, here's a more traditional, commercial Lovemark:
I always know what to wear

I decided a while back that I wanted to simplify my life and stick to a single brand for casual wear. Ronnie Corbett inspired me to go for Lyle and Scott. The eagle on the chest is delightfully simple (and possibly a bit flash) and the sweaters, argyle or plain, and polos are reasonably priced quality bits of kit. Now I always know what to wear, I just have to decided the colour combo (to co-ordinate with my adidas sneaks).

You just have to follow the link to see the hideous sweater that our nominator considers a "quality bit of kit".

Allow me to wax cynical for just a bit. I'd say that neither of these examples fulfill the qualifications that are expected of Lovemarks. I doubt that extreme numbers of people will miss the absence of Ms. Roy or Lyle and Scott. There may be a passionate minority who build their identity around them, but that's what is known in business as a niche. Nothing new here.

The Lovemarks campaign smacks of desperation on the part of marketers. A desperation that is directly analogous to that of the cocaine addict needing to snort or inhale more and more potent concoctions just to maintain their precarious hold on a mood. There are a narrow few businesses that have authentically generated the kind of fanatical loyalty that the Lovemarks theory embodies. Apple comes to mind. So does Harley Davidson. Neither of these companies engaged in anything as silly as the Lovemarks campaign to acheive that status. They created that status from their own genius. Any company that has to resort to a Lovemarks campaign to move beyond brand loyalty is just fooling themselves. They'll be trying to improve their own brand image by associating it with the Lovemarks brand, which only proves the impotence of their own brand to garner loyalty on its own. You don't proclaim your uniqueness by slapping someone else's logo onto yours.

As much as marketing firms would wish to believe it, people really aren't that stupid. Associating your brand with Lovemarks is like making your marketing plan explicit to the consumer. Its like stating to your blind date at dinner "this dinner which I am buying for you will endear you to me, which will act in my favor when I try to get in bed with you later this evening". Undoubtedly the date knows the man's intentions beforehand, but stating it explicitly breaks the magic.

And marketing is all about the magic.


Blogger Oroborous said...

Any company that has to resort to a Lovemarks campaign to move beyond brand loyalty is just fooling themselves ... only [proving] the impotence of their own brand to garner loyalty on its own.

Exactly. People (generally) don't become fanatics because they're bowled over by the ad campaign - that's just the foot-in-the-door.

Then it's all "the motion of the ocean" that builds rock-solid loyalty.

BTW, the author of this piece is apparently unaware that a can of Jolt Cola contains less caffeine than does a 20 oz. mug of joe, and there's no reason why the coffee can't have just as much sugar.

August 11, 2007 9:44 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

And speaking of coffee, there's a "lovemark" for ya; Starbucks has managed to transcend merely being a coffee-house.

August 11, 2007 9:46 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

But wait — didn't Richard Feynman recommend exactly the approach described in the penultimate paragraph?

August 11, 2007 9:58 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Oro, I'm the author you speak of. Thanks for fsct-checking.

August 11, 2007 10:11 AM  
Blogger erp said...

Perhaps lovemarks must be an emotionally addictive substance as Oroborous' example of a coffee brand. I know when I was smoking I would move heaven and earth to make sure I had a large cache of "my brand" handy at all times.

Traveling out of the country was so stressful, I had cigarettes tucked into every part of my luggage and still I ran out. It wasn't a pretty sight. I couldn't get them in Paris, but thankfully when we got to London, there were the familiar, and to me, beautiful packages of perfect little cylinders of bliss.

I don't remember ever being that loyal to any other commodity. Of course, I had preferences, but when I couldn't get them, I'd find something else that worked just fine.

August 11, 2007 10:22 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...


No reason I shouldn't have known that, it's quite clear once I blink away the mental cobwebs.

Susan's Husband:

Well, it's easy if you're Richard Feynman. Mere mortals have to rely upon slight of hand and misdirection.

August 11, 2007 11:43 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

There are a number of ancient bestsellers, Oreo being the most famous example, that were neither first in the field nor better than the original (Hydrox) yet somehow became so associated with the product idea as to be virually identical.

It's a bit of a puzzle how that happens.

The idea of a 'branded' novelist is kind of funny, too. 'Choose Roy brand novels, always a good read!'

'Next time you're stuck in an airport waiting lounge, pick up a Roy'

August 11, 2007 7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say, I do enjoy it when you modern materialists who spend so much time attacking religion and tradition glance behind you for a second and glimpse the postmodern world creeping up from the rear.

August 12, 2007 4:10 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

My theory about Hydroxies is that the name STINKS OUT LOUD for a food product. It sounds medicinal.
It's an early lesson in branding.

Excerpt from a Fortune or Business 2.0 article:

"Back in 1908, Sunshine's founders were looking for a product name that would evoke purity and goodness. After deciding that water was the purest thing they could think of, they drew upon water's atomic elements--hydrogen and oxygen--to come up with Hydrox. Alas, as Keebler's market research has confirmed, this is a much better way to name a cleaning fluid than a cookie.

"'We had very negative feedback on the name, even from loyal consumers,' says Carolyn Burns, Keebler's marketing director for cookies."

(Keebler bought Sunshine Biscuits in '96).

The full article argues that Nabisco, which makes Oreos, was more successful because of their superior distribution and marketing, but IMO Sunshine failed the moment they named their product.

August 13, 2007 12:29 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

There are a narrow few businesses that have authentically generated the kind of fanatical loyalty that the Lovemarks theory embodies. Apple comes to mind. So does Harley Davidson.

To which, after a great deal of thought, I might add Porsche.

Which only emphasizes the assertion. Attaining an iconic reputation is extremely rare. Scarcely any trademark ascends to Lovemark status, and those that do manage the feat based upon easily identifiable material considerations.

The idea of a 'branded' novelist is kind of funny, too. 'Choose Roy brand novels, always a good read!'

Exactly what I thought, until I thought a bit more.

Patrick O'Brian, anyone?

August 13, 2007 8:51 AM  
Blogger David said...

It seems to me that there are two things going on. First, there clearly are brands that sell psychic income. I buy Coke brand carbonated sugar water in order to drink America and baseball, even though I could drink Sam's America's Choice carbonated sugar water for one-third the price. I don't feel cheated because Coke always delivers what I bargain for.

What these people are suggesting, on the other hand, seems to be trying to make a brand so seductive that they can get away with providing a lesser product. That's not going to work. A brand becomes a Lovemark because it provides psychic income and a product that is as good as any other. Not understanding that explains, for example, why representing America and apple pie didn't save Chevy when Honda started making better cars.

August 13, 2007 1:36 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I think David has it about right, except that the actual quality may not be decisive.

When my uncles were running the biggest cotton spinning mill in the world, Uncle John told me that the toughest specifications for cotton thread they had to meet were for J.C. Penney.

Of course, thread strength is not the quality most people have uppermost when buying a shirt, but nobody ever got cool points for wearing a Penney's shirt, while they did for Gant. (Whatever happend to Gant, anyway?)

And Starbucks has inferior coffee served by lackadaisical staff in repellent surroundings, compared with just about any mom-and-pop coffee shop.

Whole Foods Market is another climbing brand that has, so far as I could see on my one visit, nothing of value to offer and offers it in an unpleasant setting.

August 13, 2007 9:13 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

But Harry, you have alternative standards from most people.

Having been in hundreds of greasy spoons, for my money Starbucks is a huge improvement, even if a bit studiously "not corporate", and they offer many overpriced-but-decent non-coffee drinks.

I've been in some quite superior Mom'n'Pops, and quite a few inferior.

As for surly workers, that may well be a local problem.

Good luck, by the way, with the hurricane.

August 13, 2007 9:40 PM  

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