Love. It’s what smart companies want from their customers, followers, and fans. Many companies successfully establish their brands, but don’t take the extra steps to earn love from their audiences. The result is in part failure—a risk of commodification and genericization that can mean the end of your brand. These un-loved brands turn into what Kevin Roberts called “blands”, in the 2004 book Lovemarks. That book’s rich design and thoughtful arguments cemented the notion that companies can find success through emotional connections with customers. Nearly ten years later, global advertising titan Saatchi & Saatchi re-visits the lovemark with ex-S&S ideas man Brian Sheehan. This new book, in all its pictoral glory, is called Loveworks.
Like its predecessor, Loveworks is a beautifully executed and produced book that is every bit as engaging visually as it is conceptually. I hate to get too “off topic” with a discussion of production-related minutiae, but since I am a bookseller and a book lover, I can’t resist pointing out that Loveworks simply looks great. “When brands engage consumers’ deepest emotions—instead of just appealing to their intellects, or even their basest instincts—they win in the marketplace. These brands win because their customers don’t just respect them: they love them.”For a book that attempts to discuss brand love and loyalty, an absence of rich graphics and photography would be a fatal mistake.
Loveworks spends a brief introductory chapter re-acquainting (or acquainting) you with the fundamental concept of the lovemark. Per Roberts’ original argument, the status is achieved through a blend of mystery, sensuality, and intimacy—three ingredients explored and explained extensively in Lovemarks. The brand love created by tapping into these three elements creates what Roberts called Loyalty Beyond Reason. This is exactly what it sounds like, and you can bet that every company that values its products and services above the level of commodity is aiming to earn that kind of loyalty from their customers.
Sheehan then turns his eye to an ample collection of case studies—twenty to be exact—that demonstrate the power of love between a consumer and a brand. The case studies presented are a slew of Saatchi & Saatchi’s campaigns from the past several years. Kicking off the list is Swiffer, who had already done very well since its original launch, but by 2011 was seeing stagnant sales. As Sheehan tells, Saatchi & Saatchi located the love gap between Swiffer and new customers: sensuality. The old Swiffer package was a box containing pieces that could be assembled to yield a working Swiffer. There was nothing for a customer to touch on the shelf, making it difficult for prospective customers to visualize Swiffer’s “Quick Clean” solution as a solution they could apply to their own homes. Saatchi & Saatchi, Proctor & Gamble, and Walmart teamed up to take on the issue by re-packaging the Swiffer as a ready-made cleaning tool that could easily be understood on the shelf. No assembly, no question about whether this is the convenient floor cleaner of your dreams.
Flip forward to chapter eight, where Sheehan acquaints us with Saatchi & Saatchi’s Miller High Life campaign. As soon as I had an interest in beer, I had a poor opinion of Miller High Life. Growing up and well into my beer-drinking years, I identified High Life as low-quality, cheap beer. According to Sheehan, so did many other Americans. Working in a convenience store while in my mid-teens, I remember stocking the High Life next to other price-oriented beers—price seemed to be the beer’s only selling point. Despite strong market presence in the late 1970s, by the 2000s, Miller High Life was nobody’s champagne. In 2007 the world was introduced to Windell Middlebrooks, a character who would become the face of High Life. Taking over the campaign shortly after its inception at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Saatchi & Saatchi drove the Windell character to make a key connection with consumers. The new High Life messaging was: regular folks deserve to live the high life; Miller is going to help make that happen. “If a brand sets it goal on love, and makes the hard decisions to stay the course, it is always rewarded by their customers in the marketplace.”The campaign invested in intimacy, and it paid off. By getting creative with ways to connect unpretentiously with their audience, Saatchi & Saatchi and MillerCoors put High Life back into refrigerators nationwide, and for reasons other than simply the low price. To quote Sheehan, “Between 2009 and 2011 High Life’s advertising budget was cut significantly, yet the brand’s health metrics have never been stronger.”
The lovemark concept has easy and automatic appeal. Of course most companies need to measure success via revenue, but wouldn’t you rather be rewarded with good financials AND love from your customers? Loveworks should provide you with plenty of fuel for your own love-seeking brand development. Whether you’ve already read and loved Lovemarks or not, Loveworks has a lot to teach you about gaining love from customers. Every page is proof; every campaign is a lesson. The rewards can be had—you simply need to spark the love.