Friday, October 10, 2008

There are brands, and then there are Lovemarks

On the second day of the Asia Brand Congress 2008, V Shantakumar, chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi India, explained the Lovemarks theory to his audience. As readers of my blog know, Saatchi & Saatchi worldwide chief executive officer Kevin Roberts coined the term, “Lovemarks,” a few years ago.

Lovemarks essentially stands for those brands that have achieved the status of invoking loyalty beyond reason amongst consumers.

Shanta started off with some market truths. "There aren’t any bad products left. And a market leader’s performance edge has never been lesser," he said. "We’re moving from brands to blands because of intense competition, and research firms are changing from umpires to vampires!"

According to him, the whole industry is obsessed with categories, so much so that they forget the people they are talking to. With increased focus on consistency, there is an aversion to risk settling in.

Earlier, brands followed this relationship pattern: You->Your Brand->Consumer. But ideally, they should follow this: You->Consumer->Their Brand. Said Shanta, "Lovemarks are not purchased, they are owned. If you take a brand away from a consumer, he will replace it. If you take a Lovemark away, he will protest."

Brands that command high respect (performance, trust and reputation) and great love (mystery, sensuality, intimacy) achieve Lovemark status. Even some people such as Mother Teresa or Sachin Tendulkar are Lovemarks. In the brands context, some Indian Lovemarks include Amul, Britannia, Cadbury, Horlicks and Vicks.

"Brooke Bond Red Label tea is a Lovemark that faded away," he said. "It is relatively easy to get people to fall in love with you… it’s tougher to get them to stay in love."

A brand such as Starbucks is an international Lovemark, all because of its approach. Starbucks believes it is in the people business, serving coffee, and not in the coffee business, serving people.

This is a complete antonym to the 360-degree communication jargon. "That is all bullshit," Santa thundered. "360 is all about surrounding people and attacking them from all sides… let’s not forget that we are in the attraction economy and not just the attention economy any more."

Further, things are moving away from return on investment to return on involvement, from product performance to total experience. Shanta advised marketers to generate emotion, rather than get people to listen to reason because "emotions lead to actions, while reasoning only leads to a conclusion".

On a broader plane, Shanta said, "If your spouse tells you that he loves you a million times in a day, chances are that at some point, you will get irritated. Advertising is becoming like that. Let’s not forget, love is about doing, not saying."

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