Love, love will tear us apart again?


Adam Ferrier wrote an interesting article recently entitled “Is your agency killing your brand with love?” in it he discusses the idea that the ad industry has become so focussed on creating an emotional connection to a brand that they have lost sight of identifying what the brand really has to offer the consumer. This is something I have often pondered when looking at campaigns that win a bucket load of awards for commercials that are aesthetically beautiful but fail to fulfill the real aim of advertising.

We’ve all seen ads like this, they’re beautiful and engaging, then its over and you have no idea what it was for or if there was any action requested. To me, these ads don’t really build brand affinity, they may maintain it in brands that are already well liked but they don’t drive action in the way that a true sales focussed communication does and they don’t build brand recognition and differentiation in the way that an advertisement which highlights USP’s will.

Still, I think that there is some merit to creating this love for brands, I just think it needs to be injected with the substance to take the relationship to the next level.

According to Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen there are three primary stages of love, romantic love (the IDEA of love) Physical love (The implementation) and Emotional Love (The lasting love based in reasoning and compatability).
Brands that utilize both clever, beautiful “brand” orientated advertising as well as response based advertising (featuring USP’s etc) and then follow this up by delivering on said promise with good service and quality products stand the best chance of making it through all three stages of love, the best brand I can think of to demonstrate this is Apple.

So lets look at how a persons love for Apple may blossom.

Apple draw us in with advertising that is both funny/quirky (I’m a mac) as well as advertising that is polished and suave, identifying it’s USPs (iPhone) this creates the romantic love, the brand is sexy and a little exotic compared to what we’re used to, we’re interested and its not rushing us into anything serious, we’d like to go on another date. So we go in store/to their website and have a fool around one or two times, nothing serious just some gentle keystrokes here and there.

Then we decide to go all the way and make a purchase, we take our mac product home and it shows us the night of our lives, we wonder what we ever saw in our competing product, its delivered everything it promised, maybe its the one. This is our physical love blossoming, we can’t get enough of our mac, we play with it all day and all night.

But then we have a slight disagreement, our mac just isn’t working as hard to please us as it previously did, perhaps our love is fading, after all it used to run all night but now its dying early in the evening. Then we remember that our mac came with free relationship counseling in the form of the Genius Bar.

We go in for one half hour session and all the problems are fixed on the spot, with a big smile and friendly service from a very trendy young counselor named Zac. We get home and look at our mac lovingly, knowing that we can work through anything together. This is our Emotional Love.

Now the above may be somewhat exaggerated, but this is what brands should be reaching for IF they are choosing to pursue the “love” route. Surely to aim for anything less is to completely miss the mark?


8 thoughts on “Love, love will tear us apart again?

  1. Car ads, in particular, are overloaded with gorgeous, thrilling imagery at the expense of building clear brand affinity. Irony: the kinds of lush ads that turn on dealer conferences are almost always the ones with minimum calls to action.

    Your Apple example shows that a brand capable of delivering on its seduction is one with which we are open to a long-term relationship. Besides a piece of tasty hardware, Apple offers services that complement and maintain the relationship, from free support (my genius is called Mason, as it happens) to music tracks at $1.69 a pop, MobileMe subscriptions, Apple Care, etc. No matter where your relationship starts, you can always upgrade it.

    Ads that get the consumer off the couch and to the point of purchase achieve the equivalent of the first date or a one-night stand. The ones that signal there’s more to the relationship than a quickie transaction are the ones that win sales and emotional connection – but don’t necessarily win awards.

  2. The Apple promotion has always been about personification of the computer. The mac/pc ads are just the ultimate delivery of that theme.But there is always a message no matter how twee or wrapped up in a great joke in all those apple ads.

    The love message that so many brands promote is just awkward – you cant have a lifestyle message with toilet paper.

  3. Lonely Planet, in parricular their guidebooks, is a good home-grown example.

    They become romantically involved prior to the consumer’s holiday/trip as a research guide. They become a physical love as an essential companion on that trip through Africa or South America.

    The relationship becomes cemented when we lend the dog-eared much-loved guidebooks to friends or go buy other country editions or Lonely Planet products for our next jaunt and then share our experiences online.

    I think one of the standout features of these rare brands like Apple, or Lonely Planet, is they have a lot of brand integrity.. more than most. People believe them when they saw they are what they are.

  4. Very interesting! I think Adam Ferrier is correct in saying that “telling” people that Myer is “My Store” without articulating why it is “My Store” is the challenge.

    As you point out above, it’s not just about advertising. This ethos has to permeate every customer touch point and manifest in the actions and interactions that we have with a company’s employees. After all, with brand love, when it’s unrequited we know what that really means.

  5. Absolutely Gavin,

    I think that is why it is important that communication strategies are aligned not only with how the business wants to be seen, but with what the business truly delivers. I suppose it comes back to a sense of honesty.

  6. Hi Joel,

    Thanks for picking up on the conversation and giving it some thought. I like the examples you use and you’re right. Once you have a clearly articulated purpose, once people understand how you fit into their lives then show em the love. Just don’t let it over-ride your reason for being (which is really the point I was making, and I think you are making too.


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