I love coming home to this.
Because I like to run. I love being out in the open air, feeling physically strong and mentally free, having time to myself, seeing the world at my pace. And all of that feels even better when I am wearing Sweaty Betty clothing.
Since my first purchase from Sweaty Betty, this brand became a Lovemark for me. They have my lifelong commitment. I literally don’t wear any other brand of sportswear. I can tell you all the reasons why, but this is not a sponsored blog. Oh go on then, it’s because they make sportswear pretty and feminine, their stuff always fits well, it’s 97% perfect quality and their customer service on the 3% that isn’t, makes up for it perfectly. Put a different way, ‘they had me at hello’.
The book, ‘Lovemarks – the future beyond brands’ by Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, goes into lots of depth on the subject and I’ll be honest I’ve only skim read it, but from what I gather his essential point is that love is the most powerful emotion in the world so for a brand to succeed it needs customers to make its product a ‘lovemark’ in their lives, an emotional commitment that goes beyond reason. Well that’s ridiculous I hear you say, if I am spending money on something, I make a reasoned choice. And that is perhaps true for many things you spend your money on. But if you stop and think about it, emotion plays a huge part in our consumer activity and it’s branding that gets our money.
My job for the last few years has been to win sponsorship for events in the city I live in, so I think about branding a lot for work. But since my birthday in July, when I was given some “love mark” presents, I’ve been thinking about the power brands have in my personal life.
I remember when I was a teenager, I worked in the local pub as a waitress. And my sister worked in a tea shop. Every few months our parents would take us to Newcastle upon Tyne, so we could spend the money we had saved from our hard work. We were allowed to go off round the shops on our own and we loved it! At the end of the day we would travel back home and review all that we had bought. I don’t remember the exact amounts but let’s say we both had £100 each (it felt like a million!). Rosie would have about 18 items to show for it, I would have three. Why? Because already, I was in love with brands. At the time it was Levi’s, Doc Martens and Calvin Klein Eternity perfume. Mercifully the clothing has changed, but I still wear the same perfume – 25 years later!!
Who else has my heart now? Jack Wills, because they’re “Fabulously British”, and when you live away from home you get a little patriotic. Kitchen Aid, because they’re so pretty and that’s what they use on the Great British Bake Off. Marks & Spencers, because for cotton under garments (and Percy Pigs) there is no other. A Mini Cooper, because of the Italian Job, both of them. Mac Makeup, because the black casing looks good in a box on my dresser, oh and the make up is pretty effective too. Liz Earle ‘Cleanse & Polish’, because I’m almost certain my skin became so much better when I started using it and I’m too scared to put the theory to the test! I could go on…
One thing that I was struck by as I started that list, is that so many of my Lovemarks are British brands, and whilst there are some brands from NZ and Australia that I like, if I had the choice I would probably go back to my first-love brands. So maybe there is an age for finding your Lovemarks? Some from your youth you will grow out of, but perhaps from our mid-twenties (or when you get a proper salary?) brands start to become lifers? And once you have your true love for a certain something, will you exchange it for another? Will I ever wear Adidas or Nike again? Should I buy a Kenwood mixer instead because I’ll get more for my money? Was it in fact a change in my hormones that changed my skin and could I use Olay instead?
According to Kevin Roberts “[In an average day] you can expect to have contact with around 1,500 trademarked products.” which could make for an emotional roller coaster if every product’s branding was appealing. But that shows just how surrounded (could I say hemmed in?) we are by branding and why it’s a gigantic and powerful industry.
I think the question I have been asking myself over the last few days and the one I wanted to share with you is, how can you tell the difference between you owning a branded product and it owning you? We may think it’s a reasoned decision we make when we buy a pair of socks or a bar of chocolate, but does branding put up a good fight to win our love beyond reason?