Kevin Roberts is an extremely smart guy. After all, you don’t get to be CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi just because you work 12 hours a day (question #12) or look cute. (smile) Through his writings, Kevin has taught me so much about branding and Lovemarks (Kevin’s invention).
So after a recent consultation session with a local startup, it got me thinking about the essential elements for “branding” or better, creating a Lovemark for this company’s product. So I figure I may as well share a bit of my thoughts on the topic of brands and Lovemarks here.
As I have no way of beating the guru, I will simply use Kevin’s own words to share with you a bit of what I am thinking on brands and Lovemarks.
“Brands are out of juices … They can’t stand out in the marketplace and they are struggling to connect with people. Here are six reasons why.
1. Brands are worn out from overuse
Michael Eisner of Disney has called the word brand ‘over-used, sterile, and unimaginative.’ He’s right. As the brand manual grows heavier and more detailed you know you’re in trouble. Making sure the flowers in reception conform to the brand guidelines just shows you are looking in the wrong direction. Consumers are who you should be paying attention to. What matters to them. Otherwise, you’re hiding, and you’re in trouble.
2 . Brands are no longer mysterious
There is a new anti-brand sensibility. There is much more consumer awareness, more consumers who understand how brands work and, more importantly, how they are intended to work on them! For most brands there is nowhere left to hide. The information age means that brands are part of the public domain. Hidden agendas, subliminal messages, tricky moves—forget it. For most brands it is a new age of consumer savvy; at the extremes it’s the attacks of Naomi Klein and the anti-global gang.
3. Brands can’t understand the new consumer
The new consumer is better informed, more critical, less loyal, and harder to read. The white suburban housewife who for decades seemed to buy all the soap powder no longer exists. She has been joined by a new population of multi-generational, multi-ethnic, multi-national consumers.
4. Brands struggle with good old-fashioned competition
The more brands we invent the less we notice them as individuals. If you’re not Number One or Two, you might as well forget it. It’s like kids in a family. You might remember the names of three kids, even five. But ten? And the greater the number of brands, the thinner the resources promoting them. You get a treadmill of novelty, production value, incremental change, tactical promotions, and events.
5 . Brands have been captured by formula
I lose patience with the wanna-be-science of brands. The definitions, charts, diagrams, and tables. There are too many people following the same rule book. When everybody tries to beat differentiation in the same way nobody gets anywhere. You get row upon row of what I call ‘brandroids.’ Formulas can’t deal with human emotion. Formulas have no imagination or empathy.
6. Brands have been smothered by creeping conservatism
The story of brands has gone from daring and inspiration to caution and aversion to risk. Once the darling of the bold and the brave, brands are relying on the accumulation of past experiences rather than the potential of future ones. Headstones are replacing stepping stones. If the antics of Richard Branson cause a riot (and they do), how bland and boring has everyone else become?”
And here is what Kevin says about Lovemarks,
” The Lovemarks of this new century will be the brands and businesses that create genuine emotional connections with the communities and networks they live in. This means getting up close and personal. And no one is going to let you get close enough to touch them unless they respect what you do and who you are.
Love needs Respect right from the start. Without it, Love will not last. It will fade like all passions and infatuations. Respect is what you need when you are in for the long haul.
Respect is one of the founding principles of Lovemarks.”