Brands are like people. You might love one or two, are fond of a small handful, ambivalent about most that pass you by, and may hate a couple that have really pissed you off.
According to general consensus, to be loved is the Holy Grail for a brand. Saatchi & Saatchi create "Lovemarks"; brands that people love, resulting in "loyalty beyond reason". Wouldn’t that be nice. But this doesn’t account for love being a tricky thing, representing a gloriously irrational part of our mind that is impossible to codify.
If you’re a brand that some people love, this is most fortuitous, but unlikely the result of any branding alchemy. It could be that you tickle Frank’s taste buds like nothing else. Or that you remind him of Aunt Judith on a summer’s day in Brighton. But you can’t engineer love, as some of us may have found in our private lives.
This is not to suggest that we leave things entirely up to fate, however. Rather, let us seek to understand what will make people at least fond of us.
Have a think about those around you. Without accounting for nuances in taste, we tend to be fond of people who are true to themselves. We feel we truly know them, which helps us trust them, and in turn build a bond with them. Their persona informs everything else; the way they laugh, speak or dress. If you are proud to be yourself, people will be fond of you. It’s the same with brands.
P&G take an almost scientific approach to creating brand personalities, much like a lab might inject a cyborg with its carefully programmed persona. At which point this "equity" is placed firmly under lock and key, and protected at all costs by those who subsequently care for it. They don’t create the warmest of brands, but their militant respect for their persona certainly creates brands that people trust.
In contrast, many brands suffer from newly appointed marketing directors whose desire to leave a mark manifests itself as schizophrenic brand behaviour. This is akin to a parent trying to exert their "way" on a newly adopted child. As Larkin said "They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do".
Here at Virgin Management we care for the Virgin master brand, which knows itself as well as a P&G brand, but with a crucial difference. Where P&G starts with the coding, Virgin starts with natural warmth. The brand has grown instinctively over time, is unique and proud to be who it is. Thus it demands codifying with hindsight; a task that we undertake happily as we seek to “bottle” what it is that makes Virgin "Virgin".
Our irrefutable values, distinct purpose and ways of behaving amount to a clear personality that helps people truly feel they know us, and in turn trust us, build bonds with us, and hopefully be fond of us. And if you love us, well, that’s awesome. We love you too.