A few weeks ago, I was too sick to get out of bed, and I certainly didn’t feel well enough to be working on homework or reading HBS case studies. What I really needed was some light reading. And so I pulled out my copy of Lovemarks, a book subtitled The Future Beyond Brands. It had been recommended by a guest speaker in my Brand Management class, who used it as part of his branding philosophy. It was the perfect book to read on a sick day—lots of pictures, lots of graphic design, and few sentences with more than eight words. The author is the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, an advertising agency that loftily calls itself an “ideas company.”
Here’s a brief synopsis of the book: brands will be dead, unless they can make people fall in love with them. People want an emotional connection with a brand (which we always knew) but the author suggests that successful marketers will need to make consumers feel like they’re in a love-based relationship with the brand. Now, he claims, that love may be romantic, parental, or even brotherly, but it must be deep and authentic.
A recent example that I read about in the news is the Oprah brand (which I believe qualifies as a “Lovemark”). Oprah recently announced that she would be discontinuing her talk show when the contract expires (in more than a year, I believe). The interesting thing about consumer reactions was that there was no outcry. Oprah’s viewers, who feel like she’s more a friend than a talk show host, were writing about how they are “proud of her, for taking a new step in her life” and so forth. It’s clear that their relationship with the Oprah brand goes beyond preference or loyalty.
It’s given me some food for thought as I pursue a career in marketing. How can I create a love affair between my brand and my target consumers? It’s not a matter about tricking them, it’s a matter of developing the brand as if it were a person, a loved and respected person, that the consumer can’t live without.
What are your Lovemarks?