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IKEA, the master of heart over head.

Photo of Dan Marsh

Dan Marsh 08 March 2021


It stands to reason that after a year where the vast majority have been spending time at home, there are a select few industries that have benefitted. Zoom, for example, managed to leap from relative obscurity pre-March to a place in Interbrand’s coveted top 100 global brands.


A perhaps rather obvious category that has experienced less decline than others is home improvement. Many of us will have furiously Googled ‘home office furniture’ in an effort to make our new workplaces a more productive, bearable environment.


Which brings me to IKEA.


Now, complete transparency… I hate visiting IKEA. In our business, we extoll virtues of ‘effective brand touchpoints in a customer journey’. Well, from a completely biased sample of one, I can think of few experiences I’d rather not have. And I include actually buying a house in that.


You start in a queue for the overcrowded car park. The threat of violence contesting a coveted parking space is never far away. Finally you enter. The store footprint, for me, is akin to an underwhelming theme park, with any furniture that catches your eye obscured by other customers, or worse, their brattish little children clambering all over them.


Then, just as you make your way out of the organised jungle of constructed living spaces, you reach the market place. A venerable bazaar of reasonably priced cutlery, lighting and soft furnishings where consumerist animal instinct really comes into its own. Close your eyes, attempt to find your zen place on the escalator down and hope for the best.


I say all of this to try and paint a picture of balance for what comes next. Despite my disdain for the IKEA shopping experience, it is easily in my top three favourite brands. Shock! Didn’t see that coming did you? Well, you probably did considering the title of the article, but still… an epic twist.


The brand purist in me simply cannot shake the admiration I have for its brand promise – ‘to create a better everyday life for the many people’. Translated to a creative idea of ‘The Wonderful Everyday’. It’s everything a good idea should be. Inclusive, simplistic, emotive and adaptable to interpretation.


It personifies what IKEA strives to represent. In my opinion, there are few businesses that live so intrinsically according to their core brand promise. It is fundamentally dedicated to making attractive, affordable, comfortable and pleasing products. The product designers are amongst the best in the world, and it is often at the forefront of innovating manufacturing and supply methods that minimise climate impact.


Its comms are nearly always executed with a twinkle in the eye. A tone of voice with a sense of humour which brings people along for the ride. And its advertising is charming and clever, but never contrite. Which other brand could you imagine running a Christmas campaign with a grime soundtrack? The understanding of culture (and impact on it), combined with its bravery, affords it the ability to have such recognisable comms whereby if its logo was removed from a press ad, you’d still know it was from IKEA.


All of this, for me, is a perfect example of a business you can believe in. One that genuinely strives for better and makes a positive contribution to the world. You know what you’re getting, and it’s why you come back.


That’s definitely the case for me. As much as I detest the experience of visiting a store, it is my default choice for when the time comes to refresh the aesthetic in the living room. I’ll browse the website for hours seeking inspiration. And there is, of course, the Swedish meatballs (which themselves make the whole thing kind of worth it).


Now, if only they’d sort the car parks out.