Why my loyalty don't cost a thing when it comes to branding

Why my loyalty don't cost a thing when it comes to branding

What’s your favourite brand? And more importantly why? Have a good think about it. How does it make you feel, what’s informed that?

A series of questions once posed to me by one of my mentors and wonderfully talented friend Claire Herriott who at the time was opening up my eyes to the power of ‘Lovemarks’ - a marketing concept that is intended to replace the idea of brands. The idea was first widely publicized in 2004 in a book of the same name written by Kevin Roberts, CEO of the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi. In the book Roberts claims, "Brands are running out of juice" emphasising the importance of loyalty that is earned, rather than demanded as it is 15 years later.

Bear with me here, and imagine if you will the following scenario:

Two friends on the street deep in conversation, sharing a moment. Suddenly interrupted by a another person walking by who jumps in between them ‘look at me, I’m more interesting than what you were just doing - go on, talk to me instead’. Tempted by the offer they chose to engage, throwing their conversation aside in pursuit of something ‘juicer’ - only to find there’s as much juice to be found in this new direction as you might encounter in a prune. Cheated they try to reignite their conversation struggling to remember where their focus lay before they were so rudely interrupted, distracted from a moment they may never reclaim.

Whilst this might sound like a rather dramatic comparsion that’s exactly how I’m starting to feel about my social feeds and the endless ‘promoted content’ that’s pushed in my face, breaking my flow, attempting to grab my attention without an invitation, sending me off course. I’m concerned because our ability to build and maintain lasting relationships relies largely on our ability to become loyal followers of something, for whatever reason, and for me this extends to our favourite brands. With our attention spread so thinly we are at risk of becoming fickle - claiming to be ‘fans’ of more and more. Fans without depth. Fans that hop around the lily pads as we scroll and swipe.

If I think of my own Lovemarks, the brands that I’ve been loyal to for a number of years - in the case of the charity Comic Relief, over 30 years - they all have something in common, they’ve added value to my life somehow. They’ve tapped into something that I find interesting’ or which brings me joy. They’ve evolved with the times and stayed relevant. Some have even attracted other brands and created shared brand stories. In short they’ve put in the leg work and showed an interest in their audience. They didn’t create something and put some money behind it to ensure they are seen.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all promoted content is sh*t - but what I have noticed is a pattern of what I’m labelling ‘lazy marketing’ - content created, often lacking in originality, exploring exhausted themes that add little value in the messages they intend to deliver. Their success measured based on their level of engagement, based on likes or shares, initiated by a tap before we get on with our days. If the conversion we seek - a purchase - doesn’t materialise we claim it was intended to be a brand awareness effort, something that can’t be measured…?

My issue here is that loyalty can’t, and shouldn’t be something, we buy. When my loyalty has been earned I’m encouraged to share my experience with others, to advocate, and for free. But that takes more time and effort than adding your card details and hitting ‘promote’ and that’s the difference I see between a brand Lovemark and a mark in my timeline that became more a fleeting fancy moments later. It’s also how brands stand the test of time, rather than the test of the timeline.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

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