Beyond Lovemarks: Emergence

This is the third post in a series putting forward an alternative way of creating socially useful and economically sustainable brands.

Although I have a reasonably clear intention in writing this series, I haven’t decided how many instalments there are going to be. I haven’t even drawn up a shortlist of possible sections though some are starting to come to mind.

And after each of the first two entries, I’ve spent some of the next day worrying about what I left out, thinking of interesting exceptions and different interpretations. And one or two people have started adding comments and questions of their own. So I’m allowing my Beyond Lovemarks thinking to emerge.

Brands Emerge

Similarly, I’ve said before that I think it helps to think of brands as emergent. Not things that unfold according to the master plan, but that emerge as a result of all the encounters between people who belong, with varying degrees of enthusiasm or loathing, to the community around a brand.

That doesn’t mean, that there is no role at all for strategy and planning but to my mind it should shift attention towards responding rapidly to what’s going on at the chalkface (I hate that word “touchpoints”). Because your brand is not created in the boardroom or marketing department, it’s being created by us ordinary folks who stack your shelves or pick our cornflakes off them.

Marketing departments and agencies love talking about customers. But the nearest some come to them is through the one-way mirror of a viewing facility in Surbiton. Often through a drink-fuelled haze. (See The Flaws of Focus Groups)

I believe with passion that something marvellous takes place when people are truly present to each other, something that cannot possibly occur in mediated conversations. Something that cannot possibly be distilled into a report, or reproduced by a seven-stage process following a consultant’s flow chart.

It’s interesting that the CEO of Tesco (biggest UK supermarket) is known for frequently walking the floor of supermarkets, wherease the now-deposed CEO of Sainsbury (former top dog, now in long decline) was more associated with a box at the Royal Opera. I suspect that the Tesco guy was more present to his brand’s daily reinvention than his rival.

It’s alive, I tell you

Where I’m heading with this is: maybe we should think of brands as more like living systems not machines. This makes them harder to explain on paper and a lot more challenging and fun to play with.

So what?

Commenting on yesterday’s effort, Robert Paterson said:

I wonder also today as to who creates the brand in reality?

…Soon what a brand means and how the underlying product or service performs will not be as the owner says it is but as the public says it is.

What do branders and marketers do in response?

Which sums up what I’ve been saying so far and where I want to go next. I think in the next posts I’m going to talk about these responses: about the power of presence (really showing up to relationships); avoiding making dreams your master; having an attitude; balancing the known and the unknown; and pleasing yourself. You can be sure that collaboration and improvisation will be in the mix too.

6 thoughts on “Beyond Lovemarks: Emergence

  1. 800CEOREAD Blog

    Lovemarks (continued)

    Johnnie Moore can’t seem to let go of Lovemarks. There are four entries in the last weeks on the book and concepts surrounding it: Lovemarks panned againBeyond Lovemarks: ModestyBeyond Lovemarks: It’s not yours to ownBeyond Lovemarks: Emergence Worth t…

  2. Big Blog Company

    Beyond Lovemarks

    Johnnie Moore has been ‘engaging’ on the topic of Lovemarks (he really does not like them) and in the process gets some really interesting conversations going with Mark at fouroboros. I particularly like the case of the ‘tyranny of the…

  3. What's Your Brand Mantra?

    Customer-Centered Brand Management

    There’s a terrific article in this month’s Harvard Business Review entitled “Customer-Centered Brand Management.” (You can purchase and download the article here for $6.) The focus is on how brand management still trumps customer management in most lar…

  4. SMLXL

    The Co-creation Principle

    Jennifer Rice from BrandMantra picks up the theme of how the relationship between businesses their brands and their customers can become more mutually beneficial if a ‘co-creation’ principal can be established. Rice directs us to a recent HBR article e…

  5. Ariel Di Stefano

    I like emergence! Teams involved should also look for chaos and creativity. For that is where the value is created.

    The retail example is the classic one. Retailers seldom need brand marketers and the ones that do are usually screwed up. In fact this is where the “experience” becomes important.

    I’m looking at the Dell website (been a lot of comments on Dell recently) and realise that as a Thinkpad user there is no way I am going to shop here. Flick from Dell to IBM home pages and see the difference. Neither of these appear to have great marketers behind them. Go to Apple and there I sense an “Apple” experience.

    Is Apple in your negative love box? Are Apple successes emergent? I think that what is emerging with iPods and potentially iPhones etc is a community that is part of changing lifestyles.

    Why this fanaticism by comparison?

    Then you know the MT story as well. When they changed their license structure… what the community response was. They are a good story for you. They were completely blind to their customers, never talked to the right ones, and destroyed a huge amount of “trust”.

    That is something I’d think Apple has done on a few occassions. They suffer from it.


    More dificult is for global brands to keep the “sense” in other cultures. Here in Latin America we “see” some good brands efforts (new logos, comunication, web site redesing) but only a few brands succeed in the consumer minds.

  6. SMLXL

    The Co-creation Principle

    Jennifer Rice from BrandMantra picks up the theme of how the relationship between businesses their brands and their customers can become more mutually beneficial if a ‘co-creation’ principal can be established. Rice directs us to a recent HBR article e…


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