Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The wild side of love

Consumers are neck deep in information. That’s the grim truth of twenty-first century marketing. Consumers often know far more about a product they are considering than the people on the other side of the counter. They’ve researched, compared and consulted, and I believe what they are hoping for now is an experience. Some fun, some intrigue, maybe a little romance. If this thought strikes a chord with you, crack open Cristina Nehring’s book A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-First Century.

What I like about this book is her tough view of romance. This is not some sickly package of sweet-nothings. Romance as far as this author is concerned is full of passion, high on emotion, sometimes stormy, and not always successful. In short, romance is a vital part of life itself that doesn’t bother to respect the rules we try to lay on it.

I’ve often said that if we are not stalked by failure we’re living a life of templates and formulas, and no one wins with them. Nehring puts the same idea beautifully, ‘Somewhere in our collective unconscious we know — even now — that to have failed is to have lived.’ This is important because the transforming power, the true power of Lovemarks is dramatically slowed when people try to turn it into a set process with rules for what works and what doesn’t. I’ve always believed that to deserve the name, a Lovemark is imaginative, intuitive and unpredictable as it finds fresh ways to respond to the lives of real people. This means that what may inspire Lovemark status in one place won’t necessarily have the same effect in another. Vive le difference! The foundation concepts of Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy are always at the core but this is a constantly changing landscape. What we are dealing with is emotion and emotion comes in many guises. For example, I am convinced that emotion is part of the success of Google. Just think about its ever-changing front page. Google carefully uses this amazingly valuable commercial property to respond to the stories and celebrations and personalities that are important to its users. The First Day of Spring. Happy St Patrick’s Day. Charles Darwin’s birthday. Etc etc. This is a great commercial decision to not be commercial.

What I like about A Vindication of Love is Nehring’s belief – one I share – that passion is the secret to love. That in our idea of Love we have become too pragmatic and pedestrian, too limited in our goals, too small in our expectations of each other. When Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands was first published, some of the reviewers couldn’t fathom how Love could play a part in business. I suggest they read Cristina Nehring’s book. Hers is a vindication of the wild side of Love indeed. No gain without pain? I’m with her on that too.