Brand Matters: Put a Little Love in It
What do yogurt maker Chobani, global logistics company UPS and online shoe retailer Zappos all have in common? Think hard. It's probably not what you think.
Love. Yes, the L-word. Love as a brand differentiator. Love as a way of doing business. Love of product, love of customers, sharing love stories as an amazing way to market. These days, I'm seeing brands of all shapes and sizes making love their leitmotifs, or recurring themes. Diet Coke. Jo Malone. The Container Store. Talbots. Nabisco. Starbucks. And, to borrow McDonald's famous tagline, "I'm lovin' it"!
I introduced Kevin Roberts' seminal works, "Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands" and "The Lovemarks Effect," about transforming ordinary brands into "lovemarks," several years ago to my clients. The companies that have embraced lovemark principles know it's slow and steady work based on passionate people loving what they do—whether that's providing services, creating products or fulfilling dreams—and treating their customers with the utmost respect. It's about emotion and engagement and long-term relationships. Let's look at a few examples:
Last year, UPS rolled out a campaign with this simple tagline: "We ♥ Logistics." Its purpose is to show potential customers that logistics done well can be a competitive advantage. UPS wants to showcase its strengths in an area that can often be intimidating to companies. It understands the importance of logistical excellence and created a friendly campaign that outlines the ways UPS can help companies achieve their dreams.
The pros at UPS love everything about logistics and have designed their site to solve these five common business problems simply:
- Compete locally or globally
- Serve customers better
- Be more sustainable
- Work smarter, see clearer
- Save time and money
UPS has a position called "vice president of customer solutions," filled by Charlie Covert, and shares specific case studies from customers throughout its advertising.
What does your brand love doing? How are you showcasing your strengths to attract new customers in ways that show you "get" their needs? Does your brand need a vice president of customer solutions?
Chobani, the leader in Greek yogurt sales, is also bold about using love as its leitmotif. In a New York Times article about the company's explosive growth and new integrated ad campaign of Chobani love stories, Hamdi Ulukaya, president and CEO at Agro Farms, had this to say: "Since the introduction of Chobani in 2007, consumers have said, 'I'm going to tell all my friends and family about this.' The 'love stories' idea is a celebration of the passion people feel about our products."
Does your brand experience create love stories? If so, how are you capturing them and using them as a significant marketing tool? If it isn't, what can you do to make your experience more conversation worthy?
The other day, I came across one of Zappos' ads featuring the Zappets—Muppet-like characters modeled after the online retailer's actual customer service representatives—and based on real customer service calls.
Here's what the Zappet said, "A woman just called and asked if we sold dresses. I told her we had hundreds of dresses from the biggest designers. Know what she said? She said, 'I love you.' Actually, she said, 'Thank you,' but I read between the lines."
Reading between the lines. Making customers happy. Fulfilling needs both expressed and unexpressed. With its over-the-top dedication to customer delight, Zappos is definitely in the happiness business. But I'd say Zappos is also in the love business.
What business is your brand in? Is there room for love in your brand model? More engagement? More passion? More respect for your customers? I'm in agreement with Roberts: This world needs more lovemarks.
Andrea Syverson, author of "BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants," is president of IER partners, a strategic branding and merchandising consultancy. Reach her at email@example.com.