books - business 2008


The Future Beyond Brands


by Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi (expanded edition)

(I think the title pretty much explains the book! Onto my flags…)

pg 19 Kurt Vonnegut sums it up best: “I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the centre.”

When species change, it almost always occurs first at the fringes. Here the population is most sparse and the orthodoxies of the centre are weakest. Here you can flourish isolated from formula and rules, free from the corrosive belief that everything great has already been done.

pg 21 My instinct was to go against the prevailing wisdom. I went to Saatchi & Saatichi people and said, “Here’s our Inspirational Dream. We’re all going to pull together to stay in the premier league for 24 months. After that, we’ll think about making changes, bringing people in and moving people around. I think you can do it, and we’re all going to do this thing together.” A it turned out, they could. And we did.

In my experience, when you go into most companies what you find is good people and bad management. You can turn that around really quickly by starting with an Inspirational Dream, setting some challenges, and getting everybody focused.

pg 31 One of the realities I faced in business was that I didn’t have an MBA. I hadn’t been trained in all the rules – so it meant I had to focus on the people: they were the ones who did the real day-to-day business and were close to consumers.

pg 34 The process really only has two steps – so why does everyone find it so hard? It’s all because we obsess over the attention part and forget about why we need that attention in the first place: the relationships.

Emotional connections with consumers have to be at the foundation of all our cool marketing moves and innovation tactics. Viral marketing, guerrilla marketing, entertainment marketing, experience marketing – they can all seize attention if they are done right, but once they have it, they have nowhere much to put it. Nothing to build, nothing to add to, nothing to value or care about.

pg 36 Brands can no longer cope with some of the most important challenges we face today as marketers, producers, traders and business people.

– how to cut through the information clutter
– how to connect meaningfully with consumers
– how to create integrated experiences
– how to convince people to commit for life
– how to make the world a better place

Today the stakes have reached a new high. The social fabric is spread more thinly than ever. People are looking for new, emotional connections. They are looking for what they can love. They are insisting on more choice, they have higher expectations, and they need emotional pull to help them make decisions. And, finally, they want more ways to connect with everything in their lives – including brands.

pg 41 Since joining Saatchi & Saatchi, I have given hundreds of presentations around the globe. “Father and Son” is the spot I always play at the end. … the response never varies. People feel this spot is talking to them personally. The story makes a deep emotional connection.

pg 45 Which brings us right to Emotion Number One. The most fundamental of them all… LOVE.

pg 53 “… but the way I define Love is the selfless promotion of the growth of the other. So to me, if you selflessly promote the growth of your customers and your colleagues, that’s true Love. I don’t know what more you could do for someone.” – Tim Sanders

“Whenever someone asks me to define Love, I usually think for a minute, then I spin around and pin the guy’s arm behind his back. Now who’s asking the questions?” – Jack Handey, comic

pg 56 When the Love Bug virus hit computers around the world in 2000 I knew I was on the right track. Technocool, hard-edged geeks did the unspeakable: clicked on an unknown attachment. And all because someone said, “I love you.” We were onto a profound emotional need.

pg 68 Alan was right onto my ideas about a new state beyond brands. A few weeks later he set up an interview to shake out my thinking and we were off. The results were published as “Trust in the Future” in the September 2000 issue of Fast Company. From the start we were talking tough love. We knew that consumers were cynical, savvy, and selective. They didn’t give a stuff about famous brands. They wanted more. I felt the same way. Big-time brand? Big deal! You’ve got three seconds to impress me. Three seconds to connect with me, to make me fall in Love with your product.

pg 70 I said in the article: “I’m sure that you can charge a premium for brands that people love. And I’m also sure that you can only have one Lovemark in any category.” I was sure then, but now I see that I was wrong. Now that we have moved more deeply into Lovemarks we can see that this was way too narrow. The sushi shop on the corner of your block can be a Lovemark to you. Lovemarks can be created by designers, producers, service people, cities, and nations.

The fact is that Lovemarks are created and owned by the people who love them. Where you have a customer in love, you have a Lovemark. Can consumers make Lovemarks out of two products in the same category? As far as I’m concerned, they can do anything they damn well please!

pg 74 But just sitting around waiting for consumers to tell you you’re a Lovemark could mean a very long wait. Love is about action. It’s about creating a meaningful relationship. It’s a constant process of keeping in touch, working with consumers, understanding them, spending time with them. And this is what insightful marketers, empathetic designers, and smart people on the checkout and production line do every day. Now we were ready to create our principles.

Be Passionate. Consumers can smell a fake a mile off. If you’re not in Love with your own business, they won’t be either.

Involve Customers. They need to be brought into advising on new product development and working up ideas for services. Involve them in everything, but there is no point in just reflecting back what they have already told you. Make your own commitment to change. Be creative.

Celebrate Loyalty. “Will you still love me tomorrow?” Loyalty demands consistency. Change is fine, but both partners must be full participants.

Find, Tell, & Retell Great Stories. Lovemarks are infused with powerful and evocative stories. At their best these grow into mythic tales. They recall the great adventures of the business, its products and their legendary consumers. Storytelling gives luster by opening up new meanings, connections, and feelings.

Accept Responsibility. Lovemarks are, by definition, top of their class for the people who love them. The passion for a Lovemark can be intense. At the far end of the scale people will lay down their lives for a Lovemark. In fact, nations may be some of the most powerful Lovemarks of them all.

pg 76 Constantly testing our ideas against everything that people love, we agreed that Mystery, Sensuality, and Intimacy are made up of the following elements:

Mystery – great stories, past present and future, taps into dreams, myths and icons, inspiration
Sensuality – sound, sight, smell, touch, taste
Intimacy – commitment, empathy, passion

pg 78 We created a test. We decided a brand might be a Lovemark if it matched up to these statements:

Lovemarks connect companies, their people and their brands
Lovemarks inspire Loyalty Beyond Reason
Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them

pg 79 “One way to think about what a Lovemark might be is to consider how a consumer would feel if you took the brand away. What would the person’s reaction be? In our business I know if you take away … she will be angry… So these are measures of an emotional connection and an attachment to the brand that goes beyond reason.” – Jim Strengel, Global Marketing Officer, P&G

pg 80 Five things to do tomorrow: Make at least 3 consumer connections a week. The only way to find out what consumers are thinking is to talk to them and listen to what they have to say. They won’t say these things to you on visit one – so do repeats.

pg 86 Cecilia Dean understands the elusive charm of Mystery. With her partners Stephen Gan and James Kaliardos, she co-founded in 1991 the extraordinary publication Visionaire. Issuing out of New York three or four times a year, Visionaire is a testament to the power of Mystery. … I see copies of Visionaire on the tables of Saatchi & Saatchi creatives throughout the world. Why? Because it gives them a heady mix of sophistication and Mystery, inspiring ideas wrapped into a surprising and sensual object.

pg 93 Lovemarks know that the people who love them are passionate, emotional, and often irrational human beings. What they are not are statistics or bullet points in the findings of some nerdy focus group. It’s all about listening. Not just keeping your mouth closed between each of your brilliant statements, but really listening.

Tapping into dreams is a powerful way of showing people that we understand their desires and can transform them into delight. The relationship between brands and consumers has been irrevocably changed. The change is a big one. And so are the rewards.

pg 102 Five things to do tomorrow. Ask everyone you work with for a story that reflects what makes your brand special to them. The more diverse the stories, the richer the brand. Ask three friends – people not in the same business – for a story about one of your brands. If they haven’t got one, you have work to do.

pg 133 While Intimacy is fundamental to sustaining emotional connections, it is more elusive than Mystery and Sensuality. Why? Because Intimacy has got to be a two-way process. Listening as well as talking. …. Intimacy requires an understanding of what matters to people at a very deep level. And that understanding means that you have to be prepared to reveal yourself as well. Reveal your true feelings. … Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them. Not by the companies and people who design, produce, market, and distribute them. To act in the knowledge that consumers own Lovemarks calls for radical change. And one of the most radical is opening up to Intimacy. It is only through Intimacy that the barriers of reserve will dissolvee and brands can become Lovemarks.

pg 138 To me commitment is one of the most important and most demanding of the Lovemark attributes. Remember that great definition of the difference between being commited and being involved? In a plate of bacon and eggs, the pig is committed, the chicken is just involved. Long-term commitment – crucial to a Lovemark relationship.

pg 141 I call it “Love in the bank.” With Loyalty Beyond Reason, Apple could make mistakes and still be forgiven. This is the reward for a Lovemark. Only Love will get consumers through the bad times when common sense tells them that they should change. Because Apple users loved the product, they were commit ed to it as an idea of themselves. They were Apple people. Loved members of the Apple family.

pg 149 The Love/Respect Axis… low respect + low love = commodities, high love + low respect = fads, high respect + low love = brands, high respect + high love = Lovemarks

pg 156 Shopping is seductive. Erma Bombeck, the voice of the American housewife in the 1960s and 1970s once said: “The chances of going into a store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are about 3 billion to one.”

pg 162 My real shopper education started began when I talked my way into a job with Mary Quant. …. We weren’t selling makeup at all; we were selling dreams.

pg 174 Five things to do tomorrow. Shake up your ideas. Selling stuff is an ideas business. Spend time in stores you’ve never ventured into. What are their ideas? What works, what doesn’t? Look through the eyes of the shopper. The closer you get to her experience, the richer and smarter your responses.

pg 177 We have to look at people’s lives in their entirety, the things they hope for and dream about, the things they fear, the things they love, the things they hate and need and want. What bores them. We need to understand what has meaning and significance for them, not just what they buy and use.

pg 179 I’m looking for research that counts the beats of your heart rather than the fingers of your hand. Research that connects with the inner life of the consumer. Not as statistical constructs. Not as they were. Not as you would like them to be, but as they truly are: living, feeling beings full of fears and desires, hopes and dreams. Kris Kristofferson got it: “A walkin‘ contradiction/Partly truth and partly fiction.”

pg 180 As I got to know some of the women, they’d let me look into their laundry baskets, allow me to check out their cupboards. Some of these people were very poor. Some didn’t even have underclothes. The lesson was obvious. While we had been very concerned in our advertising with helping our consumers wash fine fabrics, guess what? Most of them didn’t have any! I learned that unless you get to know people and stand beside them as they work, you will find out only what they believe you want to know.

pg 181 At Saatchi & Saatchi we group our research into three approaches. I believe these approaches can transform the way businesses connect with consumers:
1. Climb a mountain
2. Go to the jungle
3. Think like a fish

pg 182 … Climb a mountain… If you want to look at a tree, stay on the ground. If you want to see the forest, climb a mountain. … But I also know that when 100,000 people act on their own emotional needs, you had better have some idea of the direction they might turn in. And you probably don’t have enough time to knock on each door! … From this understanding of consumers comes our remarkable evidence that Lovemarks do have huge commercial benefits – in terms of preference, in terms of usage, in terms of future purchase. If you can move your brand into the Lovemark quadrant, it’s lifelong relationships, lifetime loyalty, and premium profits.

pg 184 Go to the jungle. … While focus groups can have a place, they are deeply flawed. They certainly didn’t give us rich insights into the Chinese as a people. What they taught us was about the Chinese consumer not as a person…but as a respondent. By bringing them into our environment, asking them our questions, and using our moderator, we were simply gathering information – and we wanted more. Enter Xploring. It’s probably the oldest research technique ever used. But despite its effectiveness, most companies seem to have forgotten about it. Ironically, Xploring is far easier to conduct, more affordable, and far more insightful and inspiring than traditional research. Simply put, the Xplorer puts on a pair of comfortable shoes, grabs a backpack, and heads off. There are no one-way viewing mirrors. No projective techniques. Just interaction, observation, and lots of conversation.

pg 188 The Maori of Aotearoa, New Zealand, say: “If you want to catch a fish, first learn to think like a fish.” Working with consumers and learning to think and feel as they do is how Lovemarks happen. We have already seen how powerful it can be to go out and join consumers where they life. To participate, not just observe. Another successful idea is to work with consumers to develop insights. I am not talking focus groups here, but interactive sessions where consumers can make a specific difference to design, service, production, distribution.

pg 205 Five things to do tomorrow. Get out of the office. Your Inspirational Consumers won’t come to you – and they don’t live in the office down the hall. Ask the great questions. Write down a list of six questions that will stimulate your customers into talking to you. Keep the list in your pocket or close at hand wherever you go.

pg 224 I believe that the role of business is to make the world a better place for everyone. First, by creating self-esteem through jobs, choices, opportunities, and challenges. And then by focusing our creative minds on innovating for the greater good. …. Anyone who has lived in a poor community knows that the most crippling effect of unemployment is the loss of self-esteem. There is a simple logic at work here. You create self-esteem by creating employment. And so the purpose of business, no matter what any economist tells you, is to create self-esteem.

pg 226 I often ask people whether they’d rather work for a company that is liked, or one that is loved. ONe hundred percent go for LOve. With more of their time spent working, people want that work to mean more to them. THey are searching for identity and they are determined to make a contribution. Great companies respond to this demand by articulating a higher purpose. They inspire people with a call to action that builds identity, focuses on inclusiveness, excites passion, and challenges possibility. And, no doubt, a rock-solid foundation from which it is possilbe to make the world a better place

Even the hard neural sciences are finding evidence through brain scans that cooperating and feeling that we are doing the right thing can really make us feel great. In The New York Times, Natalie Angier summed up Dr. Gregory S. Berns’ findings: “The small, brave act of cooperating with another person, of choosing trust over cynicism, generoisty over selfishness, makes the brain light up with quiet joy.”

pg 227 Will the shift towards business taking more responsibility for the world’s well-being be easy? No. As with all shifts of power, there are tough issues to be assesed and resolved. Professor Sandra Dawson, Director of the JUdge Institute of Management at Cambridge University in ENgland, highlighted what lies beneath the surface: “THere is a paradox in the sense that if you empower or regenerate, or you enter into a partnership that fundamentally affects the power balance, then it’s like a parent and a child. As a parent you enable an independence, which means that a child won’t necessarily look at the world the way you do. So if you want to get away from colonial notion of development, then that means you have to take really high risks, because you are enabling things to happen which may not then seem to be exactly what you would have wanted. In other words, you can’t empower and secure regenerative actions and at the same time excersize control.”

pg 228 THe desire to c ontrol is tough to relinquish, but that is what we must do if we want to start on the journey towards Lovemarks. And let’s face it, once you are inspired by the idea of Lovemarks, it becomes impossible to settle for anything less. Tracking Love returns a premium on every conceivable level. As philosopher Daniel Dennet said: “The secret of happiness is to find something more important than you are, and then dedicate your life to it.”


From a colleague, a Wharton podcast:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *