Ikea: “Long Live the Home” is Easy to Love

I’ve always loved Ikea.   As a kid, I’d pour through their catalogues reconfiguring my room in my mind.  Most recently, I took my 13-year-old girl to Ikea and she must have said about 38 times “I’m serious Dad, I want that.”   I can sympathize.

Ikea is fully committed to creating magic for their consumers, whether it is in product designs or in their advertising.    Whether it was the Ikea Lamp Ad (“Many of you feel bad for this lamp.  That is because you’re crazy…”) or the Subway ad where they took a plain and boring subway car and turned it into a lively home you could live in.   Ikea was in the same class as Volkswagen where they’d surprise and delight you on a regular basis.   However, over the last few years, the ads seemed to be missing the magic—I was trying to understand the symbolic nature of the ads, but it wasn’t really connecting with me.  The risk of talking to yourself is you don’t connect and you lose your beloved status.   Ask the Gap.

But this year, Ikea has begun to make their advertising comeback, thanks to the powers of Leo Burnett who can turn brand purpose into brand magic.   And while Ikea always had great ads, it was always hard to piece these ads together until “Long Live the Home” came along this year to establish a Big Idea in the marketplace.   The work is truly beautiful.

One of the hardest things to do is come up with a Big Idea for a Brand, especially in the case of a Branded House.   For a case like Ikea, the idea needs to be big enough to establish the brand idea, yet still sell kitchen cabinets, chairs and closets.   Internal conflict gets in the way of creating a Big Idea and standing behind it:  a) how much brand vs product b) how much equity vs selling c) who makes the ad and finally d) who pays for it internally—brand or product marketing?    You really need to commit to making it happen, and gain the full support across the organization—usually starting from the Top.   Big Ideas like “Think Different”, “Just Do It” and “I’m Loving It” are some of the best examples of Idea lines that connect the brand with consumers and even transform their way right into the culture of everything they do.  That’s where Ikea needs to go next.

There are many brand and business benefits to a Big Idea.   Big ideas should have a 5-10 year life, giving brands a consistent idea to connect behind.   It makes it easier to come back to the brief each year.  Also, there becomes a tone, a character and sometimes a series of devices that help frame the Idea that makes it easier to control how the brand shows up, over time, across various mediums and across the various business units.

Ikea follows the best in class use of the Big Idea, with a 60 second anthem style Ad to establish the Big Idea in the consumers mind, and then separate product ads across various mediums and built into the website, in-store and catalogue.   The TV ads are beautifully shot and connect on a deeply emotinal level, the print ads of high quality and connect.  I really like the unique product Ads they’ve done wheter it is TV ads that sell kitchens or print ideas that sell closets, while staying within the Big Idea.

However, I didn’t notice the idea making its way when I looked at the store level.  I’d love to see “Long Live the Home” be built right into the Ikea culture, brought down to the store level and even begin to influence their customer service.   The big idea becomes more than a tag line, but rather a promise the brand stands behind at every stage of the brand. Without the full comittment to brand all the way through the Love Curve, the magic of the great advertising and cool product designs sets up a High Promise that Ikea struggles to deliver at the experience stage and leaves consumers yearning for more.

That commitment to brand at every touch point has helped propel the Apple brand to the next stratosphere of Beloved Brand.  Ikea, you’ve done such a fantastic job with the advertising, my only ask is that you keep going to make it part of the brand. 

As a bonus for fans of past Ikea Advertising, here is Lamp and the Subway Spots.

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6 thoughts on “Ikea: “Long Live the Home” is Easy to Love

  1. Graham, part of the problem for brands who have lost their way/”beloved brand status” is because they change agencies and the new agency feels compelled to come up with a “new” campaign and they lose the essence of the brand.

    I used to work on Black Velvet and in the US they have used the iconic Black Velvet Lady campaign since 1969. Sometime in the 80’s before I arrived the company came to the realization that the Black Velvet Lady was now a key part of the brand and it was enshrined as part of their overall marketing strategy. The campaign still runs today in the US where it is considered a classic but how many brands can say they have had the same icon (a blond young lady in a black velvet dress) for over 42 years. I know for a fact it survived at least 4 agency changes, 3 corporate takeovers/divestitures let alone how many Marketing Managers.

  2. Andrew, very good point and thanks for the addition. I’d say the same thing exists with client turnover and the new client also trying to make their mark–throwing out potentially stronger work. I worked on a Cassie Award winner that helped to grow by 10%+ for 8 straight years, effect doubling the share. It was high on break through, an 85% brand link, and drove purchase intent. Ipsos put together a study that showed it was the 2nd best performing campaign they had tracked. But after I left, the new person replaced it with a global ad, and the brand has lost share since.

  3. Agreed the messaging strategy and communication tactics are important. However, the value proposition (product quality) and customer experience are essential for the longevity of a brand.

  4. Ikea: “Long Live the Home” is Easy to Love | Beloved Brands I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my trouble. You are amazing! Thanks! your article about Ikea: “Long Live the Home” is Easy to Love | Beloved BrandsBest Regards Cassetta

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