10/23/2012 08:10 EDT | Updated 12/23/2012 05:12 EST

Rebrand -- What's a Lovemark, Anyway?


What is a "lovemark" you ask?

Well, I like to say that it's all about the emotional cement. Brands that are emotionally cemented to their customers reach their hearts as well as their minds and they deliver beyond expectations of great functional performance.

They capture "heartshare as well as mindshare." And, more importantly, they engender high levels of respect from the consumers that they are connected to. Well, that's a serious lesson for today but what's interesting to me and what prompted this post is that it really has been a bad year for lovemarks.

South of the border, think Penn State -- that's a classic example of a lovemark having such an emotional hold on it's stakeholders that they will suspend their moral compass to continue to support a brand that is clearly bankrupt on so many levels -- fascinating and very, very disturbing to watch.

And then, there's Lance -- where to start on this one? I have had many conversations recently about this dude. Maybe it's just me, but I have never liked the guy and have gone on the record over the years with just that comment. He's a train wreck and has gone from lovemark to trash heap in just a few weeks.

People have asked me, can he be rebranded? Will he come back? What would be a good reputation recovery strategy for this narcisistic wonder? And I can honestly say "never say never" but man oh man, would that be a challenge and a thankless one at that.

It would be like trying to reposition hmm, Bernie Madoff, dirty is dirty. And, if I was Livestrong, I would launch a new bracelet for the faithful -- white maybe, for purity?

When I speak on this topic, I always ask the audience who they "love" on the "brand-o-sphere" and I get a plethora of answers. Always Apple and iPad and iPod and Mac and anything Steve Jobs.

Lots of Tim Hortons, still more Starbucks, some folks love their McDonalds. Some peeps can't get enough of The Leafs (I kid you not -- I do get that).

And I used to get Blackberry...I don't anymore.

And that is so sad because we have very few lovemarks in Canada which speaks volumns about us as a country. Aside from Tim Hortons, no one ever tells me they love Bombardier, or Enbridge, or TD Bank, but they used to tell me Blackberry.

So what happened to this venerable Canadian lovemark and can we revive it? I'm sad to say that I think that it's had its day -- let's look at the factors going forward:

  • Continuing lacklustre performance
  • Boring as dirt CEO -- no disrespect boys but really?
  • No marketing strategy and plan that I can see -- maybe the new guy (and he will be a guy) can muster up some sparkle
  • No consumer value proposition left -- what do I get when I buy Blackberry? (Functionally and emotionally -- now there's a loaded question.)
  • No new products or an exciting pipeline to intrigue us
  • And Roger Martin continuing to tell us (in quite an emphatic fashion) that the board and management are sound and that they do not regret any decisions made in the past including the decision to let Mr's Basille and Lazaridis decimate the company with their "not in my sandbox" antics while the share price and more importantly the heartshare of this once powerful brand tanked.

And I say that emphatically Roger Martin tanked -- on your watch and your venerable board's watch you allowed a Canadian lovemark to crater. And crater it did -- squandered because two men suffered from founder's disease -- you know the one -- "I created this baby so therefore I am god and can do no wrong and should never leave the building" disease.

In future, business schools and universities will use this as a case study in how to squander a lovemark in three easy steps. Oh wait, they probably already are.

I know that it makes for a compelling story in my presentation called "Building and Maintaining a Lovemark or Legacy Brand."

Time will tell if this one can be revived -- being a fan of lovemarks, and a former user of Blackberry I can only hope that someone gets their head out of the sand (that's a polite version of what I really would like to say) and breathes some life into RIM.

We Canadians don't have much to hang our hat on and we tend to get cranky when a good Canuck brand is wasted!