I have been issuing a challenge to companies around the world for many years now. It is a game-breaking idea. An idea that has the power to transform business by transforming brands. Lovemarks.
I’m not talking about the soft focus love of soap opera. I’m talking real-life love, with its sleeves rolled up. Uncompromising love that fronts up to a challenge. The result? People get it immediately. Lovemarks connects with what’s important in life. It feels true.
The Love/Respect Axis:
Whenever I present Lovemarks I start with the Love/Respect Axis. A fast, intuitive reality check for any brand.
Start with Low Respect and Low Love:
Commodities and the stuff that can be differentiated on little but price. Iron and sand, public utilities like drainage and water. Essential materials and services that generate little or zero brand heat.
Move across to Low Respect but High Love:
A real mix fits here, from the “we-love-them-but-we-won’t admit-it”, to the too-cool-to-survive. Fads, brands on the edge. Think Tommy Hilfilger, blockbuster movies, Mills & Boon romance novels, Krispy Kremes. Raffish, unrespectable – but hugely likeable.
The High Respect but Low Love area is where most successful businesses fit, along with their brands:
Solid achievements focused on the “e-r” words. Newer, brighter, stronger, bolder. Rational benefits nailed by comprehensive metrics. The problem with the High Respect / Low Love location? Everything there is just what customers have come to expect. Today everyone has to be here just to survive.
Now turn to this uncharted territory – to the Love dimension of the Love / Respect Axis:
This is where the breakthroughs are. You’ve always needed High Respect, and always will. Now you have to have High Love as well.
The Love / Respect Axis cuts through. It clearly shows Lovemarks as the future beyond branding. Darwin would have got it straight off.
It’s time to forget “either/or”. It’s “and/and”. It’s heart and mind. Love and respect. Emotion and rationality. Niche marketing and mass marketing. Local and global. Time to put the “and” back into brand.
Lovemarks sit on the shoulders of respect and surge past brands because of their Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy. Who ever talked about this trio at Brand Management School? Let’s look at the essential Lovemark make-up.
First, Mystery. This draws together the stories, metaphors and icons that give a relationship its texture. Complexity, layers, revelations, intuition and excitement.
Second, Sensuality. The way in which the five senses – touch, vision, sound, scent and hearing – stimulate our responses to our environment. The senses are portals to the emotions. In tough times security, familiarity and togetherness become primary needs. How we use the five senses can make a profound difference. Smell is a direct conduit for memory. Music creates mood. Right now design is about subtle curves and swings, not hard edges.
And the third element of a Lovemark is the breath of Intimacy. Commitment, passion and again, security, familiarity and togetherness. Family love. These are the intimate connections that suddenly have priority. No one is taking them for granted.
The Lovemarker is our tool for inspiring insights, making discoveries, experiencing the senses and revealing the mysteries. Five minutes into it and you will already be generating your first insight.
We’ve used the key elements of Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy to share some tough love. A dozen Fortune 500 companies and their brands. Procter & Gamble and Tide, Toyota and the Camry, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Cisco, Compaq, Nike, Adidas. We’ve done Italy, Cambridge University, Bill Clinton. In every instance, we found new insights for instant improvements. Love cuts through assumptions and rules.
You can see this when you profile a product, brand or experience for love. What’s a Lovemark?
We immediately recognize a Lovemark. Here are some highspots from Lovemarks profiles we have done mixed with some new insights.
Storytelling is the nervous system of Lovemarks and of mystery. Lexus knows this. When we asked for some stories they overwhelmed us. About the little girl born in a Lexus named – Isabella Alexus. A guy survives a terrible car crash in his Lexus, and connects it with being around to see his 18-month-old baby grow up.
Connecting your past, present and future is vital for any long-term relationship.
Mythic characters and icons are the smile on the face of a Lovemark. The warm greeting that shows you’re with friends.
Sensuality is a big idea that can change the way we see the world and relate to one another.
Companies that make real stuff have a huge advantage with touch. The intimacy of a minute mobile phone, the curves of a new car. All qualities that echo that most powerful sensation: the human touch.
Sound underpins the personality of every experience and can create mood like nothing else. It’s a portal to the emotions.
For those in the food industry, taste is a shoo-in, but what about the rest of us? I take Apple computers as my guide. They took taste out of the mouth and into the heart with their iMac advertisements. Made their computers in shades of strawberry, grape and blueberry. And the message? YUM!
Of the three key Lovemark characteristics intimacy resonates most in tough times. Intimacy is giving your car a name because you love it. Intimacy is having six bottles of your favorite olive oil because you couldn’t stand the thought of being without it. Intimacy is the guy at your favorite store giving you a tissue to wipe your child’s hands before you even thought to ask. Lovemarks anticipate desires before they become needs.
Intimacy demands empathy. Can’t do without it. Without empathy you can’t do emotion and you can forget becoming a Lovemark. You can forget offering sensational customer service too. To me the spirit of empathy is humor. If you can get a smile, especially when times are tough, you’re truly cooking.
Becoming a Lovemark
So now you know the way, how do you move to action? Here are three ways to jump-start Lovemark relationships.
Fronting up to the Challenge
This is a time of great challenge. But it is also a time of great opportunity. A time to keep our sense of perspective. To remember what is important and unchanging – as well as responding with speed and precision to whatever might come at us.
When we analyzed Lovemarks by Mystery, Sensuality, Intimacy and then by Respect, we did so because these are fundamental human desires. The overwhelming longing for emotional connections, empathy and trust binds us all.
By connecting with the emotions of your customers you have the opportunity to receive their greatest reward. A Lovemark.