• Posted by: Fred Burt on Wednesday, September 10 2014 11:15 AM | Comments (0)
    Superstition

    I'm at the airport, taking a short haul flight from London to mainland Europe. But my mind is somewhere else. I've just been taken on a journey of imagination, courtesy of a brand and the story it has told me.

    No single term in the world of brands seems to have caught fire quite as much as “storytelling.” The most recent example that caught my eye was Levi's Global CMO, Jennifer Sey, describing her role as storyteller-in-chief.

    A good story, well told, can draw in an audience like nothing else. The premium whiskey brands, in particular, love to tell tales. I pass through airports almost every week and there's nothing I like more than browsing through the duty free limited edition single malts, looking for a good read.

    Scotland is a fantastic backdrop, of course, with a rich, complex...wait, this is beginning to sound like a single malt! At any rate, it has ancestry, landscape, wildlife, ruggedness, aristocracy, mystery, and more. And it has made the most of these assets through its whiskey brands.

    Take Jura, for example, which I'm looking at right now. Jura is a small island with one pub, 200 people and a climate to put off all but the hardiest of tourists. But, as a whiskey brand, this translates into individual, intriguing, masculine, uncompromising, and primal. I have no idea what Jura Superstition whiskey tastes like, but, as I read its box, I was transported to a fireside on a dark and stormy night—with the whispers of the ancients swirling around me as I held the bottle and toasted good fortune.

    Sentimental and romantic? Maybe. And perhaps the fact that I am reading a story at the airport just as I'm about to go to a foreign place is making me more receptive to stories filled with a sense of place and people. But we're all creatures of imagination and, once in a while, we like to be transported to somewhere different, somewhere special.

    Fred Burt is Interbrand’s Managing Director of Global Accounts. You can follow him on Twitter @fredburt.

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  • Posted by: Liesje Hodgson and Forest Young on Tuesday, September 9 2014 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

    As the media and behavior landscape evolves to include connected physical, digital, and social experiences, brands and businesses must understand how to meaningfully adapt to create value. This means a willingness to get out of the way when the brand isn't relevant, and a readiness to take center stage in moments that matter.

    To consistently exceed expectations, an organization must understand when and how to best support the customer in key interactions, regardless of industry or instance.

    This requires more than a shared language of how the brand looks, feels, and behaves. It requires tools, methods, operations and frameworks for making technology, partnership, and product decisions that places customers, and their needs, at the center. We work with teams to ensure that the products and services which customers touch are meaningful components of a broader brand experience. Watch the videos below for a sense of how we view the role of brand in delivering customer experiences.

    We partner with our clients to drive a unified vision for customer experience across teams and business units—and help them prioritize the interactions that can impact their relationship with customers and broader stakeholders. By defining what a relevant brand experience design is, we help organizations to make technology, partnership, and product decisions with an understanding of how they will shape the customer's relationship with the brand over time.

    Liesje Hodgson is a Senior Consultant of Innovation at Interbrand’s New York office. You can follow her on Twitter at @liesjeh.

    Forest Young is a Creative Director in Interbrand’s New York office. You can follow him on Twitter @ten_ten.

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  • Posted by: Christine Sech on Monday, September 8 2014 11:07 AM | Comments (0)

    Package Sustainability

    “From packaging to store concepts, there is a clear shift in all consumer mindsets towards a common standard of less processing or wastefulness. Brands that don’t adhere will be left behind," noted Fleur Gadd, Senior Research Executive at The Big Picture. (Stylus: Eco-Ethical-Sustainable, 8 Nov 2013)

    For eco-conscious consumers, environmental altruism has been the key motivator driving their behaviors. While leaving the world in a better place remains the core desire, consumers recognize that less wastefulness also yields financial savings. This dual advantage has helped accelerate and broaden interest in sustainability among new consumer groups.

    Couple this insight with the efforts of municipal governments and green bloggers encouraging people to think twice about their waste footprint and this has resulted in a stronger foundation for Precycling. 

    Making up thirty percent of the US's solid waste stream, packaging is the most visible environmental offender. Sustainability trailblazers are rethinking, and even eliminating, traditional package formats to tackle the triple bottom line head on.

    A World Without Packaging?

    The idea of eliminating packaging from the customer journey is pretty scary, but, oftentimes, change can create opportunity. An obvious question arises: “If products are sold outside of a primary packaging, how can brands make up for the loss of a touchpoint that for many is the primary driver of brand awareness and brand loyalty?”

    Rethinking a brand’s business model is one answer. Can the brand switch to a durable, refillable model to reduce waste? Can its primary packaging be utilized as a reusable container for bulk and quantity control formats? And if so, how can this durable container become an even better vehicle for branding than the one that’s discarded?

    Another strategy is ensuring that key visual brand assets live on in the usage experience. If primary packaging disappears, how can ownable elements like the logo, colors and shapes, be applied to the product itself to reinforce brand association? Additionally, can aspects of the usage experience itself become more proprietary to create a link back to brand?

    Heightening the role of point-of-sale is an additional consideration. Is there a sponsorship opportunity for the bulk food area to pursue in order to maintain a presence? Can the labeling of products in this area be more emotive and branded?

    Mixed Recycling

    Governments unpacking the Zero Waste Challenge

    While recycling has been effective to a certain degree, it requires time, energy, resources, and commitment. Thus, from Scotland to New Zealand, governments are instituting Zero Waste concepts and partnering with environmental organizations to influence communities and businesses. Read more on SF Environment and Upstream.

    On the Leading Edge

    Retailers, Brands, and Innovations – check out how these precycling trailblazers are rethinking retail environments and packaging in the context of Zero Waste.

    In.gredients grocery store in Austin, TX aims to reduce waste through reusable and compostable containers. Most items are sold in a bulk format so consumers just pay for the weight of the product.

    LunchSkins strives to reduce the lunch footprint through environmentally friendly reusable food storage bags. 

    Martek Food System has leveraged learning from bulk food and launched self-serve dispensing systems for pet food retailers.

    Monosol creates water soluble films, compounds, and solutions for a variety of products from coffee to personal care. 

    There’s much to consider and more to learn on this trend. We’ll definitely be monitoring its impact on consumer behavior and triple bottom lines.

    Interested in talking about the next generation for your packaging? Connect with Interbrand Cincinnati here and follow them on Twitter at @InterbrandCinci.

    Christine Sech is the Director of Strategy and Research at Interbrand Cincinnati. 

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  • Posted by: Carolyn Ray on Wednesday, September 3 2014 05:43 PM | Comments (0)

    Corporate citizenship

    With 2015 quickly approaching, it’s a perfect time to ensure your corporate citizenship strategy supports your 2015 business goals to build measurable brand value.

    At Interbrand, we define Corporate Citizenship as the perception people have of a company’s positive contribution to society based on the way in which it treats the core elements of its business: Its employees, customers and suppliers; the communities in which it operates; the governments that influence its operations; and the planet it relies on for its existence.

    Our global Corporate Citizenship practice can bring you the best insights from around the world, specific to your sector or industry. There is no question that Corporate Citizenship, when aligned with business strategy, drives brand value, particularly in B2B environments.

    WATCH:Corporate Citizenship as strategic driver of business,”which explains why Canadian companies need to examine their corporate citizenship strategies: 

    What this means in Canada

    In Canada, our brands face constant scrutiny by a new generation of environmentally and socially conscious consumers. Rather than seen this as a challenge to profitability, businesses should take this opportunity to align their Corporate Citizenship strategy with their business goals to build measurable brand value.

    SLIDESHARE: The Case for Corporate Citizenship in Canada 

    ARTICLE: Corporate Citizenship Lessons: 5 Questions with Interbrand's Carolyn Ray 

    Getting Started

    Corporate Citizenship goes beyond traditional CSR initiatives and one-time fundraising activities. It need to be woven into the fabric of the business. Here are the ways to get started with your strategy.

    1. Corporate Citizenship Assessment

    Analyze your organization’s current Corporate Citizenship strategy and how it aligns with your brand and business goals. We focus on six Brand Strength dimensions that directly connect to the activation of your Corporate Citizenship strategy (Authenticity, Relevance, Differentiation, Responsiveness, Clarity and Presence) – and can include desk research, qualitative and quantitative techniques. This determines the performance of your Corporate Citizenship planning thus far and how it aligns with your brand and business strategy for optimizing brand value.

    2. Corporate Citizenship Benchmarking

    Next, do an audit of your key competitors’ Corporate Citizenship strategies and initiatives and best practice case studies of in and out of category brands. This is an important step that identifies the gaps and opportunities that can and should be addressed. The competitive audit will also help you understand what strategy will be most authentic and differentiating for your brand.

    3. Corporate Citizenship Creative Evaluation

    Assesses the visual and verbal elements currently being used to express your company’s CC strategy and initiatives. These components of your plan must be appraised to define creative excellence and optimal alignment with your corporate identity. Keep in mind that your strategy also requires an appropriate level of differentiation from your business.

    4. Corporate Citizenship Driver Study

    Conduct an analytical study of the key drivers of customer purchase behaviour and brand consideration across relevant stakeholder groups. This effort identifies and prioritizes what issues are most relevant to key constituencies in influencing their choices as it relates to social responsibility. The output can inform a targeted approach to your Corporate Citizenship strategy, tactics, messages and overall experience.

    5. Corporate Citizenship Brand Playback

    This last step allows us to listen in on real-time conversations and observe real-world behaviours among relevant stakeholder groups with a focus on Corporate Citizenship. This research distills the most relevant public perceptions of your brand’s CC strategy, identifies opportunities, and measures actions and activities over time to optimize your strategy and messaging.

    More brands are working hard to make their Corporate Citizenship practices more intentional and inspired. Increasingly, companies are openly communicating about their social and environmental initiatives and this needs to continue. At Interbrand Canada we recognize that our national brands have traditionally shied away from promoting their CSR activities, but it’s time that our corporations start sharing their stories and respond to the demands of our socially conscious society.

    Carolyn Ray is the Managing Director of Interbrand Canada. You can follow her on Twitter at @TheCarolynRay.

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  • Posted by: Rob Meyerson on Tuesday, September 2 2014 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

    Descartes

    Photo courtesy of The Guardian © Leonard de Selva/Corbis.

    What can Descartes teach us about brands? His concept of duality applies more to modern business than you'd think

    René Descartes, a towering figure of the scientific revolution, described the mind as non-physical, as opposed to the brain, which he reasoned is made of matter. His position, referred to in philosophy as dualism, seems like common sense: everyday experience suggests our own thoughts must be "made up" of something very different from our bodies and the solid objects around us.

    But while some continue to debate the mind/body issue, the majority of today's experts agree that, despite our subjective experience, the mind and the brain are not separable; they are simply two ways of talking about the same thing.

    It's this kind of philosophy that can be applied to brands. Like Descartes' view of the mind, some businesspeople still perceive brand as existing in another realm, away from the real-world activities that keep a business running, such as manufacturing, accounting and managing employees. They use "brand" to refer to an intangible thing that is related to, but separate from, the more tangible business entity it represents. It's why entrepreneurs ask questions such as, how can I create a brand for my new venture? It's why executives at mega-corporations insist: that's good for the brand, but it's a poor business decision.

    The brand is the business

    This separation between brand and business has proven useful. If the brand is a thing unto itself, it can be managed, measured and valued in order to better understand its potential.

    But drawing a line between brand and business also leads to confusion and missed opportunities. To extend the philosophy metaphor further, one of the biggest problems for dualism is the "problem of interactionism" – the idea that if the mind and body are made of different kinds of stuff, how can one affect the other?

    The brand/business dualism faces the same challenge; in order to have any impact, the brand must be able to influence the rest of the company. It cannot simply be a "ghost in the machine" – it must be of the machine; it must be part of finance's investment decisions, and HR's treatment of employees and approach to recruiting. To achieve this level of integration, we must deconstruct the concept of "brand".

    Read the article in full on The Guardian's Organic marketing hub, sponsored by Havas Media Group. 

    Rob Meyerson is the Director of Strategy at Interbrand San Francisco – follow him on Twitter @RobMeyerson 

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