“Lovemarks”: Brand Theories Unwrapped, Part 1

I thought it might be interesting to feature a few of the hot branding theories of the day. Give you a snack-size version of what the concept is, and what I see as the strengths and weaknesses. And invite you to chip in what you think, and especially experience of what works for you in practice. First up, Lovemarks TM.

This is the creation of ad agency Saatchi, and the main man selling the concept is global CEO, Kevin Roberts. He’s a passionate and piss-taking speaker, worth checking out if you get the chance.

In a nutshell, a Lovemark is loved, not just respected, as the 2×2 matrix shows (info taken from Kevin’s guest blog on Brand Strategy Insider. Using his words, Lovemarks have "Irresistible appeal" are "Customized, differentiated" and create "Loyalty beyond reason".

What works for me?
I’m all for the idea of brands that combine emotional appeal and product performance, as you will know by now. For Robert’s respect and love, read my sausage and sizzle.

1. Roberts is in the school of "forget the product". In his words, people want "something beyond benefits, attributes, performance, functionality". Its all about emotion. The risk of this is that brand teams try to go straight from product (bottom-left) to Lovemark (top-right) without getting a great product. Then, you end up with an "image-wrapper" of great communication and not product.

And this overlooks many brilliant brands built on great products/packaging: innocent, Gu, Harley Davidson etc.

2. The selection of Lovemarks appears like what I call a "beauty contest"…nominations are based on subjective views of what is cool and loveable, not on what has proven to build the business (sorry to be so dull as to worry about sales and profit…)

3. Its still ad-centric, and even TV-centric.
Though the Lovemarks gospel preaches the importance of new channels and new media, the presentation I saw consisted mainly of TV ads. There was nothing much at all about product, that’s for sure. Roberts’ area of focus is clear: TV "is still the No. 1 global medium and the best selling tool ever. 2.5 billion Households in the world have one.
TV is inclusive. Everyone can use one. People love to watch. Any creative, ambitious person wants to attract the widest audience"
. So, the cynic in me says Lovemarks is just another way to get companies to spend more on advertising, with Saatchi of course.

For another take on Lovemarks, check out Hugh’s thoughts on Gaping Void…he’s a bit more scathing than me:

"I find both Saatchi’s "Lovemarks" and its sequel, "The Lovemarks Effect" utterly unreadable. Together they form a shallow and vapid tragicomedy, of sorts"

So, are you in love with Lovemarks?