All You Need is Love

Have you ever wondered why certain products command “loyalty beyond reason”?  Why do some people obsess about a product and become so emotionally invested that all other solutions become a distant and unacceptable second best?  And most important, what can you do to create this kind of passionate loyalty?

The real question is – “How can you get people to have a love affair with your community?”

My friend and muse Kevin Roberts provides some enlightenment in his book “Lovemarks”. Kevin shares his knowledge and observations on what motivates people to become emotionally committed to certain products, and provides pragmatic guidance on how to operationalize that knowledge so you can begin moving a product from a Trustbrand to a Lovemark.  I’ve taken the liberty of translating Kevin’s principles into guidance on how to take your community on the journey from obscurity to Lovemark status.  Hopefully this post will inspire you to step out to the edge and see your community as the Lovemark it deserves to be.

“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 center” Kurt Vonnegut


Where do you start the journey?  It begins with truly understanding the story of your community.

If you ask most people, they will tell you that telecommunications is essentially a commodity service.  You simply find the carrier with the most reliable service area and best price.  It isn’t any harder than that.

Telecom New Zealand could have easily seen itself that way.  But, they knew if they treated their product as a commodity, so would everybody else.  Instead, they hired Saatchi & Saatchi to help them explain that Telecom New Zealand wasn’t simply about communication, it was about creating a more connected nation.  The story of Telecom New Zealand was told through a commercial spot titled “Father and Son”. The story struck an emotional chord among New Zealanders because it spoke to them personally.  It made a deep heartfelt connection, and it started Telecom New Zealand on a journey toward becoming a Lovemark.

Your community also has a story to tell. A story that is capable of connecting with people on an emotional level the same way Telecom New Zealand did.  You simply have to understand what it is, and how to effectively communicate it.  And the first step in the journey begins with understanding emotion.


“The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions.” Lovemarks, page 42.

Kevin identifies six primary emotions to be aware of – joy, sorrow, anger, fear, surprise and disgust.  These are emotions that enflame people’s hearts.  If your story taps into one or more of these emotions, you get engagement. However, the problem with these emotions in telling your story is they are hard to control and you can trigger an unpredictable response.  Kevin also defines six secondary emotions – guilt, shame, pride, envy, jealousy and the most powerful of all … Love.  These emotions engage both the head and the heart making them ideal as elements in a story.

To assess where you are today, take a look at the promotional efforts supporting your community.  Which of the 12 emotions are reflected in the stories you are telling?  If your promotion is focused on facts and statistics, it is falling dramatically short of the story your community deserves.  My guess is you will see room for improvement.  In my experience, given a choice to inform or inspire … choose to inspire.


As in any relationship, the first step along the way in the journey to becoming a Lovemark is respect.  Kevin calls it a founding principle of a Lovemark.  You must respect your community and you also want to earn the respect of the people who hear your story.  There are eight things you can do to earn respect for your community.

  1. Perform. Perform, perform.  Perform at each and every interaction.  Peak performance is the ticket to entry.
  2. Pursue innovation.  Your community must adopt a continuous improvement mentality that focuses on fixing what doesn’t work and strengthening what does.
  3. Commit to a total commitment.  Go the distance.  Your community will be judged at every encounter, every touchpoint, and will failure will be punished.
  4. Make it easy.  Strip the complexity out of your processes.  Make it easy to get to know and evaluate your community.  If it is hard to get to know, your community will be doomed to obscurity.
  5. Don’t hide.  People can respect your community only if they know what it stands for.  In today’s internet world there is nowhere to hide anyway.  Tell your story loud and tell it proud.
  6. Jealously guard your reputation.  Built over a lifetime, destroyed in an instant.
  7. Get in the lead and stay there.  Become the top selection choice by investing in asset creation, infrastructure improvement and public policy reform.  Once your community is seen as the ideal location, don’t backslide.
  8. Tell the truth.  Admit shortfalls.  Believe in your community.  When something goes wrong, your reputation may be your best defense.


It is important your community be respected.  It’s the foundation for any emotional relationship, and a mandatory step on the journey to becoming a Lovemark.  It is important, but not sufficient.  You also have to tell your story in a mind and heart-opening way.  There are three more elements that must be in place to succeed.

  1. Mystery – Mystery is created by telling great stories.  Stories about your community’s past, present and future.  Stories that tap into dreams, include myths and icons that can be remembered.  Stories that inspire.
  2. Sensuality – Sensuality requires you to focus on including elements like sound, sight, smell, touch and taste.  You need to find ways to engage people in learning about your community that involve their senses.  That is why well design site visits are so effective.  It is also why integrating your Travel & Tourism efforts with your capital attraction promotion can produce such powerful results.
  3. Intimacy – People need to feel the commitment of your community leaders and citizens.  It is important people can empathize with the challenges and successes of your community’s journey.  You want them to become fans who care.  Passion helps establish intimacy.  You need to be passionate, your citizens need to be passionate and that passion must be palpable to people.  After all, if you don’t care why should anybody else care about your community’s future?


As you move forward on the journey to Lovemark status, you will inevitably uncover people who are exceptionally passionate about your community.  These inspirational citizens are like finding gold nuggets.  These people will proactively promote your community and you will want to give them the tools to easily do so.  These people will be passionate salesmen and sales women who are eager to tell your community’s story to anyone who will listen.  Social media tactics can be very effective in harnessing the energy and passion so it is strategically directed to support your broader capital attraction, retention and expansion efforts.  You need to have a plan that effectively finds these people and enrolls them in your program and enables them to deliver results.


Hopefully, I’ve nudged your curiosity sufficiently to check out Kevin’s book – Lovemark.  You will enjoy the read.  You might also enjoy checking out Kevin’s Lovemarks website.  It is a great source of inspiration and guidance.  Remember, guiding your community to Lovemark status is a journey.  You won’t get there overnight and it will require persistence and patience.  But along the way you will be dramatically strengthening your community image.  You’ll also become an even better storyteller.

If you need additional inspiration, who would have thought anybody could tell the story about making a cup of coffee in a way that touches people’s hearts and creates an emotional connection?  Folger’s has achieved Lovemark status in the minds of consumers.  Watch one or both of these commercials and think about how you can begin leading your community on its journey to Lovemark status.

The Ring

Coming Home

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7 Comments so far

  1. admin

    July 31, 2010


    Thank you for sharing this. Lovemarks is a phenominal book and the economic development lessons we can take from it are numerous. The most important learning I took from your post is to identify the key points of differentiation that can be owned and continue to reiterate and leverage those as much as possible.

    Bill Kiefaber

  2. Susan P.

    August 1, 2010

    Ed, I was heavily involved with KR Connect a couple of years ago and I think a lot of Kevin. Lovemarks is great to wander through and it’s also, in my opinion, an under-utilised resource. I believe corporations could do a lot more with Lovemarks content and use it to present an energetic and seamless brand in the social media marketplace.

    I always felt that there was a ‘next step’, an evolution drawing forward from Lovemarks, that hasn’t happened but, dare I be so bold – ‘should’.

    Your comments Ed about committing to community is important but, much of the time this comes down to good old fashioned service and product knowledge. I recently reviewed a Facebook situated fabric company recently and saw the following:

    1. That the manager was regularly engaging (along with one other staff member),
    2. That the staff really knew their product lines and about sewing,
    3. That the customer base loved to come with questions.. “I need a dress for an event and I’d like to make something that….” and the manager would offer fabric combination ideas,
    4. That the client base loved to come and show off what they had made from the fabrics and accessories they bought,
    5. That the client base felt safe to raise unhappiness about delivery or quality in public – and did so politely – and that there was a prompt response and then resolution. More often than not the client came back to voice praise about that promptness and the positive quality of the replacement item(s).

    So, I would suggest that Lovemark communities are about response, engagement, a ‘safe’ and comfortable place to be and simple, joyful celebrations.

    Of course, caveats will apply. 🙂

    I do disagree with some of Kevin’s views of client power and emotional need or attachment and how that translates to the lower end of the market and I also disagree with elements of his view of the dynamic of how the love relationship is sustained over time (and sustained say when the client or consumer is disappointed) but I’ve essentially addressed that in my comments to this point.

    To end, many large companies make approach virtually impossible for the average consumer aside from feedback lines: and some of these never provide any form of response whatsoever. People can of course adore product but roll their eyes and complain about post sales service.

    I believe that brands that aim high want Lovemarks on all facets of their business. Certainly the demands for high engagement in social media means that corporations need to re-examine the conversations they’re having with their client base if they want to be competitive.

  3. John

    August 3, 2010

    And to be Happy. That is what it’s all about. Find the inner happiness within you right now.

  4. Kevin Roberts

    August 6, 2010

    Hi Ed, it’s great to see your post on Lovemarks.Ten years ago I asked the question “what comes after brands?” – and we’ve been building and practising the story of Lovemarks everyday since. I have three specific comments to make in response to your post:

    * It’s always beneficial to revisit the elements of Respect. Focusing on the “equation of love” is great but the starting point is “No respect, No Love.” As we see too often, business reputations can go up in flames (literally) because the Respect factors haven’t been obsessed over.

    * Your community can be your family, your town or city, your church or club, and your country. Participation at all of these levels is part of a purpose-filled life. For all its wonderful aspects, the internet has led to a lot of social dislocation, shallow relationships and the fragmentation of communities. Therefore the idea of community-building around the principles of Lovemarks has an urgent appeal to it.

    * It’s great to see the comment from Susan P, an “inspirational correspondent” at KRConnect in days gone by. Susan references my favorite word of all time, “JOY”. This is a very fine destination for any community. A person, a business, a community that is committed to joy is making the world a better place. You’ve already got a head start on the rest of us by living in a place called Loveland (Ohio).

    All the best, KR

  5. […] It’s been my experience, when you capture the authentic brand essence, real magic can happen. By arousing the heart, you waken a lot of emotions that can translate into a desire to invest in your community. Kevin Roberts (CEO Saatchi & Saatchi, a global branding agency) describes brands that get it really right as Lovemarks. […]

  6. Tony

    September 10, 2010

    I have a simple view of Lovemarks. For me, Lovemarks = Mutual respect between the consumer & the ‘offer’.

  7. Dian Hasan

    September 24, 2010

    Hi Ed, thank you for sharing the blog post! Enjoyed it thoroughly!
    In our work, we approach the 3-brain theory, and how the different parts of the brain (1.Cortex/Logic, 2. Limbic/Feelings, 3. Reptilian/Instinct), digest information and formulate values… 1. Cortex = Functional Value, 2. Limbic = Emotional Value, and 3. Reptilian = Symbolic Value.

    The most compelling part of the brain is the reptilian which creates Symbolic Value, which is driven by fundamental human codes/traits, ie. mainly Survival & Reproduction. There are other traits of course, but these two are the most fundamental. Love is a major part of it.. that’s why Sex and Humor always sell, and RomComs and Romantic Novels will always be around.

    Best regards,

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