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  • Posted by: Robin Rusch on Tuesday, December 18 2012 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

    Robin RuschWhat trends will 2013 bring? The next stage in brand management systems will be exploiting social media and entertainment to inspire and engage those who steward brand identity.

    In recent years, brand managers have been digging deeper and designing full marketing resource management environments. These enhance original asset management systems to allow users access to everything from guidelines, elements, tools and processes to budgeting and campaign management.

    Once functional requirements are met, there’s an opportunity to go further. Brands can immerse users in an open experience from the first screen of the system, bringing the brand to life. This enhances the functional and task-oriented experience to a fully-engaged relationship with the brand.

    A well-branded experience layered on top of a brand management system could simply be a page depicting official communications like recent advertising campaigns, employee interviews or interesting discussions about positioning the brand in local markets. It could also harness all the content brand advocates inside or outside the organization create.

    Similar to a company’s Facebook page, the content could include member updates, ratings, brand-sightings and experiences. An app could allow enthusiasts to capture pictures or videos of the brand in the marketplace and post for review on the system.

    Viewers could rate execution (on brand or not), ranking most popular or most current. Videos depicting personal experiences with the brand can generate inspiration to other visitors. Also, the company could use this feedback as ethnographic research and ideas for innovative product or service development.

    A platform for exchanging “learning experiences,” those stories we generally wish to forget, could collect challenging in-person experiences in applying the brand in local markets or in staging events. Inaddition to supplying a vehicle for storyteller catharsis and visitor entertainment, this series could be instructional for others struggling with or embarking on similar journeys.

    For the global brand manager, documented war stories add insight to problem areas. They also create opportunities to innovate, tailoring brand materials and outreach for specific markets.

    Given that the rest of the system would house and promote official communications, material and guidance, a well-curated brand experience section should comprise just 20-30% official corporate communications. The majority should contain user-created content.

    For the brave brand manager – the “brand experience” and a downloadable element gallery could be open to the outside world for browsing, co-creation and content supply. Many organizations already open access to at least some of their downloadable brand assets from their corporate website.

    Open access acknowledges a loss of complete control over the brand, but capitalizes on the opportunities this presents. If the brand identity is going to be used outside of official company communication, it’s best to provide access to pre-approved material that is on-brand.

    An open-access brand experience portal tests the brandpromise (not a bad thing necessarily). It gives the brand management team real-life insights and interaction to their most committed consumers.

    Whether the site is open to a select group of brand stewards, or welcomes the world at large, there will of course be inappropriate, off-brand or even damaging material posted. Yet, if your brand is truly living its promise, clear and consistently, the message will prevail.

    The experience the consumer has with a well-managed brand will transcend attempts to misrepresent or discredit. The efforts and enthusiasm of user advocates can make the strongest case on the brand owner’s behalf.

    Robin Rusch is the CEO of BrandWizard.

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  • Posted by: Sandra Köhler on Friday, May 4 2012 01:00 PM | Comments (0)
    Best Swiss Brands 2012

    In this time of economic uncertainty and rapidly evolving technology, classic favorites and brands offering quality craftsmanship, targeted services and proven performance won out. Interbrand Zürich’s managing director Michel Gabriel noted that with consistent brand management, “Brands create value and they secure future revenues, as well as customer demand and customer loyalty.˝

    With a brand value of 11'101 Million CHF, Nescafé continues to take the top spot on the list of the 50 best brands in Switzerland in the study Interbrand, in cooperation with Swiss business magazine BILANZ, has released. The top three is rounded out with pharmaceutical companies Roche and Novartis, with 7'313 million CHF and 6'825 million CHF respectively.

    Sixteen of the on the top 50 list are watch brands. “The strong presence of watch brands is not really surprising,” explains Michel Gabriel. “Because brands like Rolex, Omega or IWC continuously create particular brand worlds for their products and thus offer their clients an effective and lasting emotional brand value.”

    Also strongly represented is the financial services sector. Eight banks and three insurance companies made the list. Credit Suisse with 3'748 Million CHF ranks 7th and UBS with 3'481 Million CHF ranks 8th. Gabriel notes that despite “enormous value adjustments by the leading institutes the front placement of Credit Suisse and UBS can be explained first and foremost due to their clear brand strength.”

    Kantonalbanken, thanks to direct customer focus, their solidity (being down-to-earth) and a deep-seated local presence, ranked it at 11. Julius Bär came in at 15 and Vontobel, proving its brand promise "Leistung schafft Vertrauen" (Trust through Performance), ranked 19th.

    B2Bs were notably absent from the list this year. Companies that focused on public presence, reaching out to customers and building brand recognition succeeded. In creating a strong and lasting impression, brands such as Schindler, the leading provider of elevators and escalators, and SIKA, a specialty chemical company, were able to create strong brand identities and engage consumers. Michel Garbeil concluded, “Investment in your brand definitely pays off.”

    For the full site (in German) please click here: Best Swiss Brands 2012

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  • Posted by: Vincent Hövels on Wednesday, April 18 2012 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

    LEGO creates dynamic dialog with consumers.
    When we go back forty years ago, it must have been an easy time for brand managers. Consumers were only interacting with brands on a few touch points. The reach of a limited amount of media channels, such as television, was enormous. Three national commercials of 30 sec. could reach about 80% of all middle-aged consumers. Furthermore brand managers were able to just shout and spread their message in a one-way direction and customers were consuming it passively.

    But times have changed and the world has become a lot more complicated. Consumers are no longer only influenced by a 30 sec. TV commercial. Media is splintered into a plethora of different channels, and so are consumers. Brand managers have to find new ways to engage consumers and bring our message across. Consumers want to engage, shape and be part of their favourite brand. But to constantly attract and involve customers, brand should play a different role and become more active. They have to facilitate those dialogues with relevant content.

    Content marketing is a hot topic and a lot of brands are wrestling with ways to create content around their products that is relevant for their audience, but in the end must also lead to conversion. Many brands have traditionally been structured to create overwhelmingly creative, one-way, advertising campaigns. However, brands nowadays have to shift their current mind-set from creating original campaigns to creating evoking content. They have to move from one-way messaging to dynamic dialogues, from advertiser to discussion leader.

    A tremendous example of a brand that is creating relevant content and facilitating a dynamic dialogue with their consumers is LEGO. As the patent for their bricks ran out in 2005, more and more imitators came to market. LEGO had to find new ways to create conversations with their audience to keep up their competitive advantage. One of the initiatives they launched was the LEGO Club Magazine. The magazine, which is customized for specific markets and age, offers new ideas for building structures, interactive cartoon stories on how to play with the yellow little men, and reference to their products in store. The ‘high quality’ interactive magazine is still in line with the brand’s earliest motto ‘Only the best is good enough.’ LEGO is providing branded content that is targeted in a relevant, authentic and differentiating way to their consumers.

    To create strong branded content, such as LEGO, a brand should start by creating a strong proposition, a solid base that resonates in the whole organization and whereupon the consumer touchpoints with the brand are built. Consequently, the brand proposition will function as a compass in creating relevant, authentic and differentiating branded content that will stimulate the dialogue between brands and consumers. Additionally, it will help brands to actually shift from advertiser to discussion leader.

    Vincent Hövels is an analyst in Interbrand’s Amsterdam office.

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  • Posted by: Jahaun Umar on Monday, July 18 2011 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

    Ensuring the keepers of your brand maintain consistency and quality, and provide definitive insight for special circumstances is a daunting task. This is best accomplished through a well-rounded approach that utilizes the proper guidelines, visual references and access to those who can offer guidance on how to and how not to approach real-life and frontline scenarios.

    Ultimately it starts by documenting the proper usage of visual and verbal brand elements. And by this I mean Brand Guidelines. These are the textbooks of the branding world: rules, specifications, history, applications . . . all the standards for your brand. An invaluable resource, guidelines are your compass, leading you to what you need to know, like the Pantone® green in your logo, so you can get custom golf balls for your next charity event — it’s all there. With today’s technology and digital distribution we have the ability to update page by page as needed and redeploy. No need to worry if the document is up-to-date.
    For those who feel like reading about their brand just isn’t enough — or too much — brand training is essential. Whether it is a live in-person group presentation or web video modules, this is your lecture hall. You get to hear, and more importantly, see your brand coming to life.

    With both guidelines and training, you are probably ready to go forth. But what happens when they aren’t enough? Or, maybe you’d just like an opinion before you decide whether or not that concept is right for your brand. A brand help desk gets you in touch with not only the people who helped frame your brand but an expert view on the nuance of various disciplines. Need help crafting that headline? Maybe you want to know why your proof is red instead of orange. Or how do you treat your logo in an odd size digital advertisement. With a brand helpdesk you provide that extra level of support that helps ensure a consistent brand experience at every point of touch.
    As long as brands need consistency, you will need guidelines… and training… and support. It’s best to get them right.

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  • Posted by: Robin Rusch on Friday, July 15 2011 11:19 AM | Comments (0)

    Last week I was the guest at a global organization in a sunny dateline city. Invited to talk about digital asset management systems, I entered a business park of 20 buildings, all humming under the same master brand.

    The underground parking lot displayed a scrolling ribbon stock ticker above parked cars, reminding visitors of the immutable bond between time and money.

    The elevator opened to reception where way-finder robots crouched ready to escort visitors around the sleek interiors. Presented with a temporary keycard synced to allow only my unique path, I was whisked across campus by shuttlebus, delivered at yet another checkpoint, up another elevator, cruised through corridors of nameless employees, and eventually arrived at a conference room where scheduling was timed to within a second of the day.

    All as you might expect at a highly-functioning global organization, which requires absolute synchronicity to orchestrate a +4.5 billion dollar brand.

    Then the meeting with corporate branding began and 21st century progress ground to a halt.

    Asked about the process for brand management across the regions or business units, the brand manager stared blankly, eventually settling on a weak smile. “Well, there’s me… and in the summer, we have an intern.”

    How’s that working out?

    The state-of-the-art methods for communicating and exchanging files across the brand management department of this global organization involve email, dropbox, cd-roms (remember those?), and telephone.

    She allowed that some of the regions were not always compliant. No kidding?!

    That’s basically 1.5 people responsible for deploying a global brand and all its sub-brands across regions, business units, sponsorships, audiences, three major languages, and new acquisitions (this organization acquires companies more often than most people floss). Add the other challenges of managing a brand such as gaining sign off, approving local realizations, and educating local colleagues on execution, and I wondered how she even had time for our meeting.

    Could technology help the brand communications department?

    Leaving the building, I asked one of the way-finding robots. It beeped furiously, turned three times and slumped over. 

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