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  • Posted by: Katie Conneally on Tuesday, May 6 2014 03:37 PM | Comments (0)

    Foursquare Swarm logo

    A few weeks ago in Little Rock, AR, I used the Foursquare app on my phone to look up nearby restaurants for dinner, and found a local fish spot that lived up to its 8.3/10 rating. The next weekend I was in Charleston, SC, and checked-in at a restaurant that one of my foodie friends, whose opinion I trust, had checked-in at previously. I knew I had made the right choice in toughing out the hour-long wait.

    But it seems that I’m in the minority of Foursquare users, who both check-in to a location regularly, and use the discovery features to find new places to go. That’s why Foursquare announced this week that they’re splitting their app into two—one called Swarm that will just allow users to check-in to their location, and another that will keep the name Foursquare, but will function as a way to find crowdsourced recommendations nearby, similar to Yelp.

    The logic, apparently, is that having to check-in is a barrier for potential users who don’t want to share their location, but might otherwise use and benefit from local search features and tips on restaurants, bars, and entertainment.

    From a business perspective, this no doubt made sense to the Foursquare team (and investors) as a big step towards monetization and expansion for a startup that’s been struggling to do both. But from a brand perspective, there’s a risk the change in names and split experiences will alienate their core users who have spent the last five years building the mountain of data that makes this all possible.

    Let’s start with Swarm. While it was a nice touch to pull the name from the existing Foursquare vocabulary  (“a place where a lot of people are checked in”), many people use Foursquare today for the opposite reason—because it connects them to curated network of like-minded friends that's often much, much smaller than their network on Facebook. A name that emphasizes the wider reach over the smaller circle may make current users wary of Foursquare’s intentions, and misses the point—as the internet continues to grow, there's value in being able to carve out your own niche.

    There’s also the question of name equity. The Foursquare name has significant equity in the location-sharing space, and is most commonly associated with check-ins—even beating social Goliath Facebook at the check-ins space. Using the name for an app that will serve a completely different purpose, when its existing connotations might actually deter new users, doesn’t make much sense. Instead, going the opposite route and keeping Foursquare as the name for the check-in app would help maintain consistency during the change, and require less investment to rebrand.

    Overall, splitting the brand experience in two to gain a new mainstream audience that pushes away current users feels shortsighted. Why not reimagine the experience for current users, and re-envision them as part of the team, building the data infrastructure that powers local search? There’s certainly power in making people feel useful. Or, why not turn Foursquare into an ingredient brand, with myriad possibilities for partnership? What starts as social doesn’t always have to stay the course.

    Getting this unbundling right and growing both apps into sustainable, unique offerings will take significant investment, especially with apps like Yelp standing strongly in the space. This could prove to be too much, and like Netflix and Qwikster, they may ultimately decide that they’re better together. Either way, we’re curious to see how this will affect the Foursquare brand in the critical months ahead.

    For now, I’ll still be checking in, but know that the day will come soon when I’ll be more inclined to check out.

    Katie Conneally is a Verbal Identity Consultant at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Brittany Waterson on Wednesday, February 26 2014 03:04 PM | Comments (0)
    Paris Fashion Week Live

    Fashion Week, held every February and September in New York, London, Milan and Paris, is known for ushering the newest styles, trends, and designers into mainstream fashion. The season will come to a close in Paris this week, where brands like Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Lanvin, are now showing their collections. For the past few years brands have become more experimental, pushing the digital envelope and integrating technology into their fashion shows. Streaming shows live and posting photos immediately online are trends that have now become expected from Fashion Week. Within the last few years, fashion brands are working in different ways to connect with consumers and bring new concepts to reality.

    Alexander Wang chose to host his Fall 2014 show in Brooklyn. The invitations were heat sensitive and arrived with step-by-step directions to the venue. The brand also teamed up with Uber, an app-based cab service, providing 30% off Uber transportation. The invitation was a foretelling of the heat-activated fabric Wang used in his collection. For the show’s finale, models were positioned under heat vents as the fabric changed colors under the presence of warmth. The brand is not the first to debut this type of technology, but certainly one with the most brand recognition.

    For the Rebecca Minkoff Fall 2014 fashion show, the brand used the social media platform Keek to post behind scenes videos. The company’s CEO Uri Minkoff believes customers appreciate an insider look at the brand and connect more with raw and un-edited content. Rebecca Minkoff has also used its large social media presence in past fashion weeks to debut looks to customers via Tumblr and Snapchat. The value of a brand’s social media following is indispensable and helps create a highly engaged audience, welcomed into the brand’s inner circle.

    Marc Jacobs opened a pop-up shop for his fragrance, Daisy, in New York City on the first day of Fashion Week. Formally called the Daisy Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop, the store employed social currency; visitors could use the hashtag #MJDaisyChain and receive a branded gift from the store. Exchanging branded items for social media posts is an innovative concept to spread awareness and reward customers for their endorsements.

    Burberry is one of the most digital brands in the luxury sector. Constantly pushing the tech-envelope, Burberry looks to merge digital and physical touch points across its brand. From teaming up with Apple last year to opening a till-free beauty boutique, Burberry has championed an array of successful innovations. The brand has also successfully expanded its “Runway Made to Order” service, which now includes menswear, womenswear, and cosmetics available for purchase and personalization, straight off the runway. For its most recent Fall 2014 show, Burberry created heavy engagement on social media, posting exclusive photography, videos and original Vines.

    “Burberry’s strength is very much in asserting its sense of self while demonstrating its sensibility to an evolving world and consumer. As such, the brand is looked to as an adept and agile maestro of the experiential” comments Rebecca Robins, Director EMEA & LatAm for Interbrand and co-author of Meta-luxury: Brands and the Culture of Excellence. “This is a brand that has embraced the very premise of tradition as innovation, remaining true to the threads of its core values, while working constantly to ensure its relevance for generations to come."

    "The question for brand owners," Robins adds, "should be how does innovation add value to the brand? How do innovations add value to how consumers engage with the brand? In the same way that leading luxury brands dispense with the very term 'luxury,' technology comes as standard. The brands that truly embed the magic and logic of innovation and the magic and logic of brand as central organizing principle, will be the ones that we will be reading about long beyond the runway.”

    Fashion Week is a time for brands to showcase their ability to experiment and further position themselves as innovators in the fashion industry. Strides and advancements made in past fashion weeks have now become expectation. While some fashion brands are still slow to embrace it, technology is a new way to tell a brand story, especially through social networking outlets and product development. Utilizing technology is becoming increasingly necessary for fashion brands, as live streams, social media, and digital innovation are essential to connecting with consumers.

    Brittany Waterson is an Associate in Interbrand's Global Marketing and Communications team.

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  • Posted by: Bill Chidley on Friday, October 18 2013 05:01 PM | Comments (0)
    Amazon Wine

    Availability drives consumption.

    Amazon, a top riser on Best Global Brands 2013, is now shipping wine to New York, Michigan, Arizona and Louisiana, upping its distribution to 20 states and the majority of Americans. This is good news for wine makers, but a cause for concern to wine retailers who may fear obsolescence.

    “Disintermediation” is the driver of ecommerce and what keeps traditional retailers up at night. Whole industries have changed as a result of taking steps out of the distribution model. How we acquire and enjoy books, music, movies, even travel, are forever different… and now wine appears to be joining the mix with the biggest e-retailer.

    Lowering the cost of goods to consumers is the obvious upside of disintermediation, but an often overlooked result is a change in consumption habits. Make something that is inherently appealing cheaper and easier to get and without fail more will be sold.

    The advance of Amazon's wine sales will have at least three profound collateral effects on how consumers engage with the wine category that will impact consumption habits:

    1. Reduced entry barriers for new consumers: Shopping for wine can be intimidating for shoppers and a barrier to entering the category. It is complex and difficult to navigate, with many varieties and price tiers. The Amazon experience offers the shopper the ability to educate themselves without pressure, use reviews for comparison, and filter search results to suit their priorities that will reduce the entry barriers for new consumers, and then keep them in the Amazon franchise.
    2. Frictionless purchasing for current consumers: The ability to easily repurchase favorites, put wines on a wish list to purchase in the future, immediately find a wine that was recommended or experienced at a restaurant, and then purchase with one-click, all will drive consumption. Furthermore, the ability to use Amazon’s “subscribe and save” option and push notifications for cool new wines to try, (or deals), will positively impact frequency of purchase.
    3. Contagious consumption for all consumers: Wine is a highly giftable and sharable category, and Amazon will be a great platform for both. Wine as a gift for friends and family in other zip codes gets little consideration, but Amazon introduces project-ability to wine, making it like flowers. Amazon will enable us to share our favorites not just in social media, but by actually physically sharing a bottle across the miles. This will not only increase purchase occasions, but also introduce more consumers to wine, or more varieties and premium tiers if they are already buying wine.

    These three collateral effects will drive consumption and grow the wine business while also changing how consumers experience the category when they shop. Like iTunes and music, wine is highly fragmented so shopping online will be a great equalizer for small brands “on the shelf,” but give disproportionate advantage to brands that have the ability to pay to be featured or promoted.

    Based on my recent Amazon Wine experience, it will also impact the design of packaging for wine if/when online becomes a top channel of distribution. The role of the bottle will be minimized and the label will be the single focus, and need to attract attention as a postage stamp in a sea of postage stamps.

    Regarding the brick and mortar wine shops, they will feel the impact of Amazon and other e-commerce players eventually, but they still have their place for convenience. They will see reduced traffic and smaller purchases as “stock-up” trips migrate to online sales. But there will always be a need for brick and mortar wine stores until someone figures out a way to download a great Malbec!

    Bill Chidley is SVP, Executive Consultant, Interbrand Design Forum.

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  • Posted by: Dominik von Jan on Thursday, July 25 2013 05:47 PM | Comments (0)
    Google Glass Presentation

    I had the pleasure of participating on a panel about The Three C’s of Mobile Success at VentureBeat’s recent Mobile Beat conference. Moderator Erik Loehfelm from Universal Mind, Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, Trulia’s Consumer Products VP Lee Clancy and I had a very interesting discussion around what makes mobile marketing activities work: Customers, Content and Context.

    Since a lot of the conference revolved around mobile innovation, wearables and the utility and marketing opportunities that go along with them – from medical condition monitoring intelligent skin adhesives to productivity enhancing, James Bond-like super watches – we took a short detour into the device world of tomorrow. Having done a lot of industry research in the field, Sarah Rotman Epps drew an inspiring picture of the new app opportunities that Google Glass open up, and what that means for utility-based marketing as opposed to advertising.

    Near field communications (NFC) will have a whole new playing field in the still fairly geek-y looking eyewear, beaming personalized offers, shopping cart reminders or product information into your field of vision when you pass a retail brand you interacted with in the past. Speak of relevant content and relevant context.

    The question of “are customers permitting such targeted and somewhat personal sphere-invading communications” didn’t take long to be raised. The consensus was that as long as personalized information and services provide a true value add and increase convenience, consumers are embracing them. Think Amazon’s “Customers who bought this item also bought” section that pulls product recommendations based on users’ browsing behavior as the least intrusive example, automatically saved travel preferences in mobile apps like Delta Airline’s Fly Delta, or the more aggressive retargeting of web users with banner ads from brands whose websites they visited in the past few days.

    Where things got especially interesting from a brand perspective was when we started to talk customer experience in these new customer touchpoints. There was a lot of conversation about brilliant new business models and feature innovations, for example the last-minute-hotel-rooms-at-a-great-price service Hotel Tonight, newcomer IDrive’s platform-agnostic online backup service or Trulia’s foray into the Google Glass app world with a service to find houses for sale - right where you are. And that is a good thing, because it pushes thinking and inspires the next great business innovation.

    Where the conversation was only starting to emerge, though, was in the brand expression through these innovations. Truly strong engagement and loyalty is created when people connect with a brand on an emotional level, when they get to know and appreciate the character of the brand in addition to its innovative utility. That is what makes a brand like MINI Cooper so strong and its customers so happy, or what makes ordering business cards from print service moo.com a surprisingly pleasant process.

    That is where the opportunity for long-term customer loyalty comes in: The innovative feature itself will be copied by the competition at some point, but the brand personality can’t be. That’s why I am convinced we will see and hear a lot more conversation in the future about how to innovate and build personality. A good sign of that was Dave Mathew’s (CEO & Founder of mobile connectivity platform NewAer) call out “We need more whimsy in mobile apps!”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Dominik von Jan is Senior Director, Digital at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Nicole Briggs on Monday, April 29 2013 04:01 PM | Comments (0)

    Starting today at 5PM EST/2PM PST, Comedy Central and more than 50 popular comedians such as The Daily Show’s Al Madrigal, Lil Rel Howery and Amy Schumer are participating in a social media event that brings the Comedy Central and Twitter brands together. Building on and disrupting the Twitter Party, the brands are launching #ComedyFest.

    Tonight’s kickoff event, Mel Brooks Joins Twitter, features Carl Reiner and Judd Apatow as moderator. Following the hashtag #ComedyFest, people can join in all of the action from @MelBrooks’ historic first tweet tonight through Friday, May 3.

    Twitter PartyBusinesses and bloggers have long known the opportunity that lies in the Twitter hashtag to create Twitter Parties, promote products and ideas and find follow-worthy content. Twitter began using the hashtag as early as 2007 and they’re very popular today. Chances are you’ve used a few. (Hashtags are words or phrases that follow behind the # symbol.) They’re currently found in use on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and GooglePlus. Now Facebook too is weighing getting in on the hashtag action.

    Facebook is working on incorporating the hashtag into its network as a way to start up group conversations. The feature will allow users to grab posts regarding aspecific topic or event in order to build conversations, keeping users connected and logged on even longer than before.

    This move could be a result of Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram last year. Instagram already uses the symbol to sort photos.

    Spectators believe the new feature speaks to the ongoing business rivalry with Twitter. While Facebook is and remains much larger than Twitter, generating $4.3 billion in advertising last year, the competition is prevalent.

    The WSJ reports, “Facebook's work on a hashtag is a sign of the heightening battle between Facebook and Twitter, as both compete for mobile users and fight for advertising dollars. For years, Twitter and Facebook seemed to occupy different poles of the social-media spectrum. While Facebook was the home of close friends and family, Twitter was the real-time broadcasting device for the rest of the world.”

    Facebook Hashtag Protest

    Some are totally against the new feature. A Facebook page named “This is not Twitter. Hashtags don’t work here.” was set up and has more than 12,000 likes. However, there are many social media experts and users alike that think this is a great feature that will enhance user experience.

    Marketing seems to benefit the most from the use of hashtags in social media. Experts encourage companies to use hashtags in marketing messages on Twitter and other social media platforms. Continuous use of hashtags can help a brand go viral and generating more traffic.

    Hashtag MugHashtags can also help humanize brands, making them appealing to consumers. Hashtags make information easier to find, and that’s important. As a social media user myself, I enjoy having information given to me at lightning speed without the hassle of a full internet search. Other benefits of hashtags are promotion, unification, conversation, targeting and innovation, as Forbes noted.

    Question: So if Twitter is responsible for the success of hashtags, why don’t they own a trademark for it? Answer: Twitter has yet to register for a hashtag trademark.

    In fact, none of the major players in the social network industry have applied for trademark registrations for the word or symbol. From a trademark perspective hashtags could also be considered as an industry standard and functional in the category. If so, Twitter cannot claim rights to hashtags, if it is essential to the use or purpose of the offering.

    The use of a product feature as a trademark would put competitors at a disadvantage. This could be the reason Facebook does not own the trademark for the word Like, outside of its famous thumb up design. While we love a great trademark dispute, there won’t be one brewing here. Just seems like a game of fair or unfair competition.

    Nicole Briggs is an Associate Trademark Consultant for Interbrand.

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