Saturday, July 01, 2006

Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands - Kevin Roberts

This is a terrific book that has the added benefit of being visually appealing in addition to providing valuable and engaging content. The author is Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of the agency Saatchi & Saatchi. The book was mentioned in an article that appeared in the May 1, 2006, issue of BusinessWeek entitled "Detergent Can Be So Much More." I was convinced after reading the article that Roberts was on to something when he talked about trying to understand the relationship that people have with the products and services they use. They set out to see first hand how people used Proctor & Gamble products in their home. Unlike other types of research that rely on focus groups or surveys, their focus was on how their customers actually shop for and then use certain types of products like dish washing detergent. This is particularly important when introducing products into foreign markets where culturally they may perceive or use products differently. This is a whole new way of looking at marketing: understanding the consumer experience and peoples relationship to the brands they love.

Hence the term "Lovemark" evolved to mean those products/services/companies that inspire "loyalty beyond reason." Saatchi & Saatchi has even set up a very innovative website at that captures those feelings by providing a forum where people from all over the world can nominate, vote and talk about their own "lovemarks." In looking at some of the many brands that had been nominated already, I discovered I had lovemarks of my own: Subaru, Panera, BusinessWeek, FastCompany and the Violet Crumble candy bar. It's a very cool thing to see what other people have written about and to articulate what you LOVE about certain things you would never want to be without. Blue Ocean Strategy was nominated along with the book's website, and when I clicked through to their site one of the rolling quotes that came up was "Blue ocean companies have fans rather than customers." And I thought that was also an excellent summation of what Roberts is saying in "Lovemarks."

So marketing in the 21st century really has to be about consumer experiences and their relationship to the things they spend their money on. Roberts covers how all of our five senses play into how we feel about certain products, and how those sensory perceptions need to be incorporated into marketing. The book is rich in pictures, quotes and examples of some of their past marketing campaigns, including those done for public service and non-profits.

One of my favorite quotes was about the importance of stories. How companies need to tell their stories to differentiate themselves and to create an important connection to their customers/fans. Not long after reading this book, I opened my monthly mortgage statement to see that Wells Fargo Mortgage had set up a special website for a essay contest they were having. The gist of the contest is that they give you the opportunity to win money toward the purchase of your next home in exchange for telling them your story. I thought the timing of that was very ironic, but indicative of how companies are buying into Roberts perspective on how marketing needs to tap into how people relate to the companies they do business with in a very personal way.

Equally interesting was the appearance of Kevin Roberts again in the June 2006 issue of FastCompany magazine. In the "Open Debate" column on the very last page Roberts and Brian Collins go head-to-head in a discussion about how companies need to engage their customers through marketing. I think the book is a great read and full of terrific information that companies need to understand in order to reach out to their customers and potential customers. A quote from the book that really spoke to me was this: “Be Passionate. Consumers can smell a fake a mile off. If you’re not in Love with your own business, they won’t be either.” Truer words were never written.

No comments: