Brands of Love – Ski industry inspiration

BNBranding logoI’ll never forget my first pair of skis… Hand-me-down Heads from a by-gone era. Jet black. Heavy as can be, but oh so lovable!

That was 5th grade. Since then, I’ve purchased 10 more pairs of skis and most were the same brand: Head. One of my personal brands of love.

The latest is a pair of Head Rev 105s, and I’m loving them.

Brands of love - Brand Insight Blog
Me on my Heads at Mt. Bachelor

Why’d I buy?

Not for any rational reason, that’s for sure. I tested many different brands — and they were all good.  Every one would get me down the hill on a powder day quite well. The price was equal but I chose Head, and not because of the cool graphics.

Just because it’s one of those brands of love that I grew up with.

Every time I ski on them, and every time I see another Olympic racer on the podium with Heads at their side, I get even more attached to that brand. Confirmation of a life long love affair.

Brands of love - Howard Head - BN Branding

The Head Ski Company was founded in 1950 by Howard Head. It was the first metal composite ski — a revolutionary progression from the days of hickory.

In the 1960’s Head sold more than 50% of  all the skis in the U.S., even though they were priced two times higher than the competitors. It was a premium product with plenty of sex appeal.

Jean Claude Killy raced on Heads. More recently, Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller did too. In the 2020’s Head has been dominating the World Cup, with the notable exception of Mikaela Shiffron’s stunning performance on Atomics.

To me, buying skis is like buying a car. I can name every car and every ski I’ve ever owned, and I have fond memories associated with every one.

I strayed from Head for awhile, cheating with Atomic, Blizzard. Elan and Rossignol, but I keep going back to my first love — to the brand that I first associated with the freedom, thrill and challenge of skiing.

That’s branding.

A lot of people gripe about commercialization and marketing as an evil activity or a “dark art.”  They say they’re being manipulated, somehow, into buying stuff they don’t want or need.

That’s nonsense. I believe we need MORE relationships like that, not less. More love of any kind! Less indifference and more brands of love.

Just think… If we could all be passionately connected to more of the things we purchase on a day-to-day basis, wouldn’t the world be a better place?


We could all use more brands of love.

Imagine how your day might go if you felt as passionate about your filling station and your pharmacy as I feel about my skis.

What if the routine chore of picking up dinner was transformed into a delightful experience that you could look forward to every time. What if you had a genuine love for your dental office?

Even root canals would be a more pleasant experience.

It’s human nature to love. We crave strong, loving connections to the things and people in our lives. Brands play that role quite well. We’re naturally drawn to the companies and products that show love to their employees, their customers, their environment.

Whole Foods, Patagonia, Clif Bar are three good examples… they’re passionate companies that attract passionate customers.

In his book Lovemarks, Kevin Roberts talks about closeness, trust, intimacy, passion and commitment. Those are the traits of any loving relationship,  and if you can attain that in your relationship with customers you’ll have what Robert calls a Lovemark. The gold standard of brands.

What you have to remember is that Love is a matter of the heart, not the head. So is branding.

Look what happened when Coke-a-Cola messed with their formula and replaced it with New Coke. Loving fans turned into an angry mob who insisted, “we want our Coke back.” It was the single biggest marketing blunder of all time.

Brands of love don’t get that way by sticking to facts, data and a logical list of product features like flavor vs. Pepsi. And empty, corporate catch-phrases are even worse.

Like a closing time come-on by a desperate frat boy… you might lure someone into a one night stand with that approach, but it’s not going to get you a second date, much less love.

The idea of moving from an ordinary brand to a Lovemark means changing the relationship between the consumer and the Brand,” said Maurice Levy, former Chairman of Publicis Groupe. “It changes from a rational decision to an irrational, passionate one.”

brands of love on BNBranding's brand insight blog

In focus groups people talk about brands of love all the time.

“Oh, I just love my Subaru.”

Subaru took the loving feedback from their customers and built it into its advertising. For dog lovers in New England and skiers in the Pacific Northwest, it’s definitely a brand of love.

My dad and my wife love Sees chocolates. It’s a brand of love around Christmas time.

Patagonia is the most trusted brand in America according to a recent Harris Poll. Costco is second… People love piling that giant flatbed cart full of too much stuff. They love the pricing, and they love the luck of the hunt when they find something new and unexpected.

So stop thinking about how to improve “customer satisfaction” and start thinking about how to make them LOVE you. Want you. Chose you.

How can you initiate a relationship like the one I have with Head Skis?

It’s not easy because that one is connected to some of my fondest childhood memories. Think about that… If you really want to ramp up your branding efforts, start creating memories that your customers will love to recall, 50 years from now.

It takes a lot of extra effort, attention to detail, transparency and goodwill build brands of love. But it pays off… in better sales, in higher business valuation, and in articles like this one.

Write a comment… Tell me about your favorite brands of love.

If you want more on lovable brands, try THIS post.

If you’d like help turning your ordinary company into a beloved brand, contact me here, or reach out on LinkedIn.


4 thoughts on “Brands of Love – Ski industry inspiration”

  1. A very heart-felt article when it comes to branding I must say! My personal love has been with the body shop and Dove evolution products ever since I saw their ‘Dove evolution’ advert. It showed the reality of what a model really looks like. I think this would have touched the hearts of many women especially who feel the pressure from alot of celeb-branding. Since that ad I had a sense of encouragement instead of failure (unachievable heights of beauty portrayed in some adverts). As a result, I love the Dove and body shop products! It’spersonal to me, I feel beautiful in my own skin for the first time ever 🙂

  2. Great article! So inspiring too! I think we can get a good balance between the ‘evil activity accusations’ and selling just about any old tat to people in the name of ‘you need this’
    A perfect example for me was the Dove Evolution advert which changed my life! I love the statement that it made… No woman is perfect! The advert was steeped in reality yet it made me fall in love with the brand and since I’ve been buying Dove products because it makes me feel a sense of true beauty! Loved the post thanks for sharing

  3. Magnificent site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it
    to some pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And naturally,
    thank you for your effort!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Take your next agency for a spin.

You wouldn’t buy a BMW without getting behind the wheel. You have no idea what it can do. Same with BN Branding. So let’s go for a test drive… just one small assignment to prove how well we handle whatever you throw at us.

Scroll to Top