Ad Age is out with an updated list of “America’s Hottest Brands,” and the 2019 set (the last list appeared in 2011) is instructive in multiple ways. Not the least of the ways is how new the brands are—only two or three are legacy companies, say, those with decades of experience in front of customers. Just as there are no sustainable competitive advantages (copying is just too easy), being “hot” as a brand is both fragile and ephemeral. The shiny new toy gets more play.
Instead of being a hot school—one that attracts students just because it is so hot—maybe a better aspiration is to be loved. Being loved is a stronger glue than heat, one with bonds that transcend momentary circumstances. Hot brands have mass appeal, while loved brands have smaller, more loyal followings.
Heat happens quickly, while love takes a series of emotionally evocative experiences to emerge. Too many marking initiatives aim at temperature and not enough at cultivating love.