I think that those of us who work in marketing often over-estimate the degree of affection that people have toward brands. Much of the evidence suggests that people really do not think about brands all that often or care about them that deeply. Instead, the importance of many brands to their consumers is derived from a series of inconsequential experiences. Those brands may be more valuable as a result.
Kevin Roberts, has famously promoted the idea that brands should aspire to become Lovemarks. Its Web site describes Lovemarks as follows:
Lovemarks are the future beyond brands. They deliver beyond your expectations of great performance. Lovemarks reach your heart as well as your mind, creating an intimate, emotional connection that you just can’t live without. Ever.
Powerful stuff, and yes, brands should deliver a great experience, one people love, but is there really a brand you “just can’t live without?” Readers of this blog know I love my car, but that does not prevent me from wondering if there is something better out there. Particularly when most brands are pretty incidental to our lives, just how realistic is it that people care that much about all of them?
Besides, I think there is a benefit for brands that fly under our conscious radar. The ones that rely on cues and circumstance to trigger instinctive positive reactions and habits stimulate behavioral loyalty. I suspect that there are many brands that thrive because people have become habituated to them. They buy them time after time, without thinking about the price they pay or the alternatives. Loyalty is built up over time through repeated good experiences and repeated purchasing behavior.
Bill Moggridge, one of the co-founders of design company, IDEO, is quoted in the Objectified documentary as saying:
I like the concept of wearing in rather than wearing out. You’d like to create something where the emotional relationship is more satisfying over time.
(People) don’t have to have a strong love relationship with their things but they should grow sort of a little more fond of them perhaps over time.
I can’t help feeling that this describes how people develop their loyalty to many brands, particularly packaged goods and impulse purchases. It probably did not take much to make us choose to buy them in the first place, but over time they have become meaningful to us because they deliver a consistent experience over time. So long as a brand gives us what we want on a repeated basis, we are happy to buy it again.
So what brands can you not live without and why? Are there brands that you use repeatedly but never really think about?
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