July 8, 2014
So while I’m desperately trying to convince Brand Leaders that being more loved will make you a more powerfully connected brand, and enable you to drive higher profits, I feel that I have to remind everyone that Love Takes time to build, and you have to be LIKED first, before you will ever be LOVED. To relate it with human behavior: Yes, hearing the words “I love you” is something we all dream of, but hearing them on the first date is a bit creepy, don’t you think. Just like in our personal relationships, we need to get to learn the brand, be able to trust and rely on the brand, and quite honestly we use our brains to figure out if it is THE ONE for us. Then we let ourselves fall in love.
I have created a hypothetical curve I call “The Brand Love Curve”. In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans.
It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With each stage of the Brand Love Curve, the consumer will see your brand differently. The worst case is when consumers have “no opinion” of your brand. They just don’t care. It’s like those restaurants you stop at in the middle of no-where that are called “restaurant”. In those cases, there is no other choice so you may as well just name it restaurant. But in highly competitive markets, you survive by being liked, but you thrive by being loved. Be honest with yourself as to what stage you are at, and try to figure out how to be more loved, with a vision of getting to the Beloved Brand stage.
Most brands that are truly beloved brands have taken decades if not a century to achieve such status. It took Apple 30 years to truly break through to the masses. Yes it was loved by a few early on, but not by the many. Those brands that quickly get to LOVE IT sometimes don’t last there, because when we poke holes in the brand we find little substance. Examples where brands quickly got to the love stage might include Cold Stone Ice Cream, Crocs, Benneton and maybe even the pop band “DEVO”. (sorry Devo fans)
Before getting all emotional, ask yourself: Why is your brand Stuck at the Like It stage?
There are seven possible reasons why you are at the Like It Stage:
- Protective Brand Leaders means Caution: While many of these brands at the Like It are very successful brands, they get stuck because of overly conservative and fearful Brand Managers, who pick middle of the road strategies and execute “ok” ideas. On top of this, Brand Managers who convince themselves that “we stay conservative because it’s a low-interest category” should be removed. Low interest category means you need even more to captivate the consumer.
- We are rational thinking Marketers: Those marketers that believe they are strictly rational are inhibiting their brands. The brand managers get all jazzed on claims, comparatives, product demonstration and doctor recommended that they forget about the emotional side of the purchase decision. Claims need to be twisted into benefits—both rational and emotional benefits. Consumers don’t care about you do until you care about what they need. Great marketers find that balance of the science and art of the brand. Ordinary marketers get stuck with the rational only.
- New Brand with Momentum: Stage 2 of a new brand innovation is ready to expand from the early adopters to the masses. The new brand begins to differentiate itself in a logical way to separate themselves from the proliferation of copycat competitors. Consumers start to go separate ways as well. Retailers might even back one brand over another. Throughout the battle, the brand carves out a base of consumers.
- There’s a Major Leak: If you look at the brand buying system, you’ll start to see a major leak at some point where you keep losing customers. Most brands have some natural flaw—whether it’s the concept, the product, taste profile ease of use or customer service. Without analyzing and addressing the leak, the brand gets stuck. People like it, but refuse to love it.
- Brand changes their Mind every year: Brands really exist because of the consistency of the promise. When the promise and the delivery of the promise changes every year it’s hard to really connect with what the brand is all about. A brand like Wendy’s has changed their advertising message every year over the past 10 years. The only consumers remaining are those who like their burgers, not the brand.
- Positional Power–who needs Love: there are brands that have captured a strong positional power, whether it`s a unique technology or distribution channel or even value pricing advantage. Brands like Microsoft or Wal-Mart or even many of the pharmaceuticals products don`t see value in the idea of being loved. The problem is when you lose the positional power, you lose your customer base completely.
- Brands who capture Love, but no Life Ritual: There are brands that quickly capture the imagination but somehow fail to capture a routine embedded in the consumers’ life, usually due to some flaw. Whether it’s Krispy Kreme, Pringles or even Cold Stone, there’s something inherent in the brand’s format or weakness that holds it back and it stays stuck at Loved but just not often enough. So, you forget you love them.
You have to answer those questions and figure out your brand before you just go to your ad agency and say “let’s be more emotional this year”. Communication can help, but if you’re at the LIKE IT or INDIFFERENT stage, you need to begin crafting an idea that will help separate your brand from the pack.
Here’s some thoughts for how to get to the LOVE IT stage.
- Focus on action and drive Consideration and Purchase: stake out certain spaces in the market creating a brand story that separates your brand from the clutter. Begin to sell the solution, not just the product. Build a Bigger Following: Invest in building a brand story that helps to drive for increased popularity and get new consumers to use the brand.
- Begin to Leverage those that already Love: Focus on the most loyal consumers and drive a deeper connection by driving the routine which should increase usage frequency. On top of that, begin cross selling to capture a broader type of usage.
- Love the Work: It is time to dial-up the passion that goes into the marketing execution. Beloved Brands have a certain magic to them. But “Like It’ brands tend to settle for ok, rather than push for great. With better work, you’ll be able to better captivate and delight the consumers. If you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand.
- Fix the Leak: Brands that are stuck have something embedded in the brand or the experience that is holding back the brand. It frustrates consumers and restricts them from fully committing to making the brand a favourite. Be proactive and get the company focused on fixing this leak.
- Build a Big Idea: Consumers want consistency from the brand—constant changes to the advertising, packaging or delivery can be frustrating. Leverage a Brand Story and a Big Idea that balances rational and emotional benefits helps to establish a consistency for the brand and help build a much tighter relationship.
The big lesson here is advertising alone can’t make you more loved. You have to have everything lined up behind the brand promise to create an experience that lines up to the story you want to tell. McDonald’s might have great coffee, but they’ll never be a Cafe, if I have to sit in plastic chairs, beside a screaming 4-year-old who is throwing his french fries at his mom, or 8 teenagers hanging out behind me.
I don’t think you can be rational and emotional at the same time
Yes, I am starting to see many Brand Leaders taking on the emotional areas of Brand Marketing, and I’m happy for it. But what I’m concerned at are creative briefs asking agencies to create ads that are big on emotions, but then heavy on facts about your brand. Before you even get to the communications stage with your agency, you have to understand where you sit on the love curve and why you are there. As most brands sit at the LIKE IT stage, they need to understand why they are there, before they can try to just be loved randomly. Just like in dating, you might have a blind spot that has nothing to do with advertising, so trying to create an ad that says “LOVE ME” might be like a jerk asking a girl to marry him. A good piece of communication can only move one body part at a time: the head, the heart or the feet. Challenge yourself: do you want to target the HEAD so you can get consumers to think differently about you, the HEART to try to connect emotionally or the FEET where you try to drive action.
If you think you can create an Ad that does all three, you are the worlds greatest advertiser in history. And if you can’t you should then focus on one at time. That’s where the Anthem will help reposition the brand (head) or connect emotionally (heart) and the Innovation spots should drive action (feet). The choice on where to focus should come from your brand’s strategy. At Beloved Brands, we use the Brand Love Curve to help determine where your Brand currently sits with consumers. If you’re at the Indifferent stage, you need to drive Trial (feet) or change their minds to see you differently. As you move along the curve, it becomes a balance of mind and heart, but driving towards Beloved, you need to connect emotionally. (The Heart) of consumers.
Align everything on your brand behind that idea: the promise, the strategy, the story, the innovation and the experience. And it’s the idea that helps to create a strong bond with your consumers. That bond becomes a source of power for your brand, whether that power is with the very consumers who love your brand, versus retailers, suppliers, competitors, influencers, employees or even versus the media. Once you’re able to generate power for your brand, you can then turn that into profit, whether driving price, cost control, market share or increasing the market size.
The more love you create for your brand means more power and profit.
How loved is your brand?
We believe a brand’s source of power is the emotional feelings it generates. With that power comes added profitability.
In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits. To read more, follow this presentation.