Friday, September 7, 2007

Lovemarks –the Future beyond brands

Lovemarks –the future beyond brands by Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi. ISBN: 1-57687-270-x

How do you make products that people will not only think are great products, but products that they will be loyal too beyond reason? The classic examples of Lovemarks are Apple, Harley Davidson, Zippo, and Coca Cola. Products that all live up to the definition of love in Kevin Robert's book: "Loyalty beyond reason".


Roberts' gives some interesting and helpful advice but packages it in a whole lot of noise about Saatchi & Saatchi, Proctor and Gamble, and adds even more noise to the message through a rather busy book layout. If you can get beyond all the noise however, there are important lessons to be learned from this book.

Go to to get a taste of what it is all about. Well, what the end result is about and what the surface looks like. Then read the book to understand what is behind it.

Roberts' core thesis is that with an ever increasing array of products, we need to move beyond brands. Brands are built upon respect, but only demands loyalty within reason. Beyond that point lays Lovemarks, built on the company's love and respect for their customer and in return given love and loyalty beyond what you could reasonably expect by their customers.

If you do not believe humans are powered by emotion rather than by reason or that emotions matter in product design, read the first couple of chapters and spend some time reading up on car design, or hang out on some Apple fan boy websites. If you just want to get to the "How" part, here is a list of interesting passages in the book:

Pages 42-45: Primary and secondary emotions

Primary emotions: Brief and intense

Secondary Emotions: More complex and combine the head with the heart














Page 52: Six truths about love

  1. Human beings need love, without it they die
  2. Love means more than liking a lot. Love is about a profound sense of attachment.
  3. Love is about responding, about delicate, intuitive sensing. Love is always two way.
  4. Love is not just one kind of relationship. There is love between spouses, family members and between friends. For Kevin Roberts it is about Bruce Springsteen concerts, Saturday nights, and a cold Becks beer.
  5. Love takes rime. Love has history, love gives us meaning and makes us who we are.
  6. Love cannot be commanded or demanded. It can only be given.

While some of this may seem banal if you are talking about love between people, I think an interesting passage because it emphasizes what Roberts is really talking about, and just how radically he means it. I especially like number 2 in the context of product design. We are talking about more than "liking a lot".

Pages 60-63: Respect, a foundation for love

Respect is a pre-requisite for love.

  • Perform, perform, perform: Respect grows out of peak performance at every interaction
  • Pursue innovation: Continuous improvement (kaizen)
  • Commit to total commitment: The active consumer judges you at every encounter
  • Make it easy: If it is hard to use, it will die
  • Don't hide: People can respect you only if they know who you are
  • Jealousy guard your reputation: Reputation is built over a lifetime and destroyed in a second
  • Get in the lead and stay there
  • Tell the truth: Front up, be open. Admit mistakes. Don't cover up, it will get you every time.
  • Nurture Integrity:
  • Accept responsibility: take on the biggest responsibility of all –to make the world a better place for everyone
  • Never pull back on service: Service is where transactions are transformed into relationships.
  • Deliver great design: If you are not aesthetically stimulating and functionally effective you just merge into the crowd.
  • Don't underestimate value: Both dollar value and perception of value. Only if people perceive the value as higher than the cost will they respect the deal you offer
  • Deserve trust:
  • Never, ever fail the reliability test: Expectations skyrocket> Cars always start the first time, the coffee's always hot, the ATM is always open…

"it is a tough list. Demanding and uncompromising. Don't even dream about Lovemark Status unless you can tick off each and every item"

Page 70: Difference between Brand and Lovemark





Recognized by consumers

Loved by people



Presents a narrative

Creates a Love story

The promise of quality

The touch of sensuality







Defined Attributes

Wrapped in mystery




Passionately creative

Advertising Agency

Ideas company


Pages 74-79 Mystery, Sensuality, and Intimacy.

"Lovemarks are not owned by the manufactures, the producers, the businesses. They are owned by the people who love them."

Principles of Lovemarks:

  • Be passionate. Consumers can smell a fake a mile off. If you are not in love with your own business, they won't be either.
  • Involve customers: Involve customers in product design
  • Celebrate loyalty:
  • Find, tell, & retell great stories
  • Accept responsibility: love is two ways. If people love your product, you have to love them back with everything that includes.

Mystery, Sensuality, and Intimacy is what makes a truly great product stand out.

Chapter 8-10 (pages 81-144) is about Mystery, Sensuality, and Intimacy. Too much to list here. If you go read the book, then at least browse these chapters. If you then want to use it, go read the chapters.

P 149. Respect and Love graph


My opinion of the book

I like the thoughts in this book. I really do. I also think that the content is relevant for making great products. But Lovemarks? I would like to go back to one of six truths about love: "Love cannot be commanded or demanded. It can only be given." And that is where I think the book if not the thinking breaks down. Kevin Roberts does give a recipe for building products that is beyond our normal definition of great, products that have the potential to be more than just good products and be great experiences through not only the product itself, but the connection with the organization behind it and the other people who enjoy the product. This piece about the organization cannot be underplayed. I have spoken about products throughout this review, but really it is more than that. It is an organization connecting to people through products and services. However, most of Kevin Roberts' examples fall short. Both his examples of how Saatchi & Saatchi has helped turn brands in to Lovemarks and the testimonials on the website and the in the book about products people love leave out one crucial piece of information/context. Most of the testimonials people give are about products that they like a lot, not products that they love. And if they love a product, it is usually because it reminds them of their actual childhood or a person they love. Not because of some story, however compelling, that happened to someone else.

Does it work? Yes! I think Kevin Roberts prove beyond doubt that if you do everything he suggests, you will sell more products, and you will make more people happy and more loyal to your brand. But you can't engineer love, you can only put the bricks in place so that some (few) people will make that extra jump. And I think Kevin Roberts' book, despite all the noise, does provide a good direction for how you can make it more likely that some people will make the jump. But I think he makes promises where none should be made.