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  • Posted by: Jamey Wagner and Will Kladakis on Friday, May 3 2013 01:41 PM | Comments (0)
    Louisville Slugger

    Only a month into Major League Baseball’s 2013 season, it’s already been an eventful one. Collin Cowgill became the first player to hit a grand slam during his debut game as a Met in franchise history. Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper set a new MLB record, becoming the youngest Major League ball player to hit two homeruns in his team’s season opener. May snow interrupted yesterday’s Royals vs. Rays game in Kansas City, leaving players snapping shots of the snowfall from the dugout while the Royals played video of a fireplace on the center-field board and KC’s Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas had fun running on the tarp and sliding into second through the snow.

    For players and fans alike, baseball and Louisville Slugger® are synonymous. Chevrolet has even released a video extolling the most recognizable name in baseball’s craftsmanship. Interbrand Cincinnati, located in the same city the first professional baseball team called home, was honored to be selected to celebrate that craftsmanship in our redesign of the iconic Louisville Slugger logo, the brand’s first update in 33 years.

    Tasked with developing what is only the second significant change of the Lousville Slugger logo since the 129-year-old, fifth-generation and family-owned company made its first bat in 1884, Interbrand Cincinnati fielded a passionate project team with a love for and unique expertise in baseball. Staffers truly became a part of the brand in Louisville, on softball and baseball fields, with high school and college teams and in meetings with their key retail accounts.

    The rollout of the new logo began in time for Opening Day and will continue through the season, hitting retail stores in late October. Along with the logo, Louisville Slugger is introducing its new wood bat, MLB Prime™, to the diamond. The new bat boasts the hardest hitting surface in the game.

    Interbrand’s branding solution hit a home run as it found the balance between remaining a heritage brand and having a fresh, contemporary and relevant identity. The new logo and secondary mark provide the Slugger brand with tools to launch new products, connect with new, younger players and create a brand story for the modern era.

    The new “Louisville Slugger” logo provides balance between iconic elements, preserving the legendary oval and authentic stamp of approval, “Made in the U.S.A., Louisville, KY.” Interbrand envisioned how the new identity would extend to other touchpoints such as: the iconic finger stall on the back of a pitcher’s or fielder’s glove; catching equipment; non-wood bats for college and youth players; Louisville Slugger Field (home of the AAA Reds affiliate Louisville Bats); and the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory logo.

    A secondary mark was created within the logo that can be used in smaller/alternate applications. This allows the brand to stretch to new products that are more image-based and it creates a visual shorthand for the brand that cameras can easily capture and fans in the stands and viewers can recognize.

    The overall program includes a color palette created for the brand that works for corporate and partner applications. The design successfully works for product, promotional and merchandising purposes.

    The Louisville Slugger logo redesign is generating significant excitement and media coverage, including pieces in Ad Age, The New York Times Blog and Business Courier.

    Jamey Wagner is Creative Director and Will Kladakis is an Account Leader for Interbrand Cincinnati.

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  • Posted by: Amy Edel-Vaughn on Sunday, February 3 2013 09:19 PM | Comments (0)

    Forbes published an interview before the big game with Interbrand executives and a panel of industry insiders, discussing their picks for the most anticipated Super Bowl ads of the year. Super Bowl Ad Watch from brandchannel has kept readers in the loop on upcoming ads, brewing controversies and new brand developments ahead of Sunday’s game. During the big game branding lovers are tweeting with @Interbrand about the #superbranding action, sharing their take on the ad action.

    Chris Campbell, Executive Creative Director at Interbrand, shared with Forbes that he was looking forward to the new Kia Space Babies ad and “seeing how this new character will come to life and engage consumers following the Super Bowl spot. The hashtag #SpaceBabies on Twitter is a start, but the brand will need to think strategically about how it users Twitter (and other social platforms) to not talk to consumers, but with them – creating a rich and meaningful conversation.”

    Campbell noted Claire Chai, SVP of Brand Marketing at Kia, when talking to Interbrand about the company's goals said, "Our mission is to become one of the most desirable brands in the automotive industry by providing a different type of driving experience that will enhance people's lives and enrich them every day."

    Kia’s advertisement, Campbell says, “is a clear articulation of that goal in the marketplace – as the kid in the backseat breaks our cinematic gaze with ‘But Jake said babies are made when mommies and daddies…’ - dad cues the voice-activation system and the music that follows averts the seemingly awkward situation. ‘It has an answer for everything’ appears next and clearly reflects Kia's ambitions to improve the customer experience.”

    Stuart Green, CEO of Interbrand Asia-Pacific, adds, “The ad reflects KIA's brand positioning particularly in the US, but also globally. It showcases how they have been expressing the brand - highlighting ‘family values,’ but also keeping it fun, by targeting people with a 'young at heart' disposition. As this ad is for Kia's Sorento SUV, the coming together of family is particularly well executed.”

    Another Super Bowl auto ad standout for Green is Ford’s Lincoln spot. “Ford is in the process of reinventing the Lincoln brand. For Generation Y consumers, mention the name Lincoln – and it will probably evoke images not far off from our 16th president – likely their grandfather sitting behind the wheel of a town car,” he says. “The company is trying to change that and reach a new generation of progressive luxury buyers, particularly with its new MKZ mid-sized sedan.”

    He adds, “As one of the few Super Bowl ads that didn't already appear online, I am looking forward to the result of its Twitter crowd-sourcing initiative – and seeing its first-ever Super Bowl ad, especially in the form of 140-character tweets. It's always exciting when a brand is able to reinvent itself and what I have seen from their previous TV ad spots, Lincoln has been able to weave in its heritage, while still emphasizing that is capable of transforming consumer expectations.”

    As Green mentioned, a number of Super Bowl ads were released ahead of the game. Does this weaken their impact or can it help build conversations and help the brands?

    Rebeca Arbona, Executive Director, Strategy & Research for Interbrand, weighed in saying, “If it’s a good ad, yes it can be advantageous to share it ahead of the Super Bowl. At Interbrand we believe that one of the drivers of strong brands is presence, the idea that a brand is in the consumer's world and being spoken about favorably, so it makes sense to be everywhere you can.”

    “But whether or not it gives them a bigger return, in terms of driving sales, depends on a lot of factors,” Arbona explains. “First and foremost is whether or not people like the ad, so that you're creating positive buzz or negative buzz. And does it clearly communicate a consistent brand-building message that makes people inclined to think favorably about the brand and its products?”

    Scott Lucas, Executive Director of Interbrand Cincinnati, concludes, “As Super Bowl mania ramps up, people tend to be swayed by a combination of memory, loyalty and buzz when it comes to ads. If a brand had a great ad during last year’s Super Bowl, people expect an encore. If they love a brand, they’ll want to see it come to life—in full regalia—during the big game. Others get caught up in the pre-game hype. They’re anticipating an ad because they were told it was going to be good.”

    “From Interbrand's perspective,” Lucas says, “the ads we’re most anticipating are not necessarily the ones that are generating the most buzz. The ones that are truly smart, strategic and tie into the brand proposition.”

    Amy Edel-Vaughn is Interbrand's Community Manager.

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  • Posted by: Dominik Prinz on Thursday, October 11 2012 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

     Lance Armstrong

    There is a curious thing about celebrity endorsements. They can be of tremendous worth for brands if the person they pick rides the waves of soaring success and limitless public admiration. Then there are those cases where all that falls apart within the blink of an eye – highlighting all the dangers associated with borrowed equity.

    Think of Hertz and its 20 year long ties to O.J. Simpson. Think of Tiger Woods and Accenture. Paramount cut ties to Tom Cruise after he infamously “jumped the couch” during The Oprah Winfrey Show. Kmart’s partnership with Martha Steward received a somewhat undesirable level of publicity after she found herself serving jail time. In 2005, model Kate Moss was photographed allegedly snorting a substance presumed to be an illegal drug substance – and Chanel, H&M and Burberry quickly backed out of their contracts. Of course we all remember how the Aflac goose suddenly lost its voice after Gilbert Gottfried decided to tweet jokes about the Japanese Tsunami.

    This poses the question: While there is big bucks to gain from positive image transfer and access to new audiences – is partnering with a figure of public interest a risk worth taking? Or does the potential damage to a brand’s value outweigh the potential gain?

    The latest case of Lance Armstrong makes these questions more relevant than ever. A quick re-cap of events: a recently published, 202-page report of The United States Anti-Doping shed light on the ongoing investigation of Lance Armstrong, accusing the legendary Tour de France winner with having run “the most sophisticated doping program in recent sports history.” We all have learned over the years that this is a sport where doping is not necessarily an exception, but often part of the “recipe” for winning. Remember the quote of five-time Tour winner Jacques Anquetil: “You cannot win the Tour de France on just mineral water and baguettes.” So what’s all this buzz about?

    In this case, it’s about the destruction of faith – and the almost aching disappointment that comes along with it. Armstrong was considered more than just a hero in sports. He was considered a hero in real life, too. What really inspired people about him is his personal story, overcoming all odds, beating a 20-30% chance of survival when suffering from stage three cancer and then returning to the world stage of cycling, winning the Tour de France for seven consecutive years. That’s the stuff legends are made of. And brands love to tag-team with heroes like that – because it can affect their own perception extremely positively.

    The problem is that heroes like that are built and thrive upon three important and inevitable truths: credibility, authenticity and a story that people can believe in. The fact that Armstrong has repeatedly denied doping and stated, “there is zero physical evidence to support (these) outlandish and heinous claims” undermines all of those values in light of the latest reports.

    LivestrongThis writer is one of the 84 million people on the planet who bought a “Livestrong” wristband in support of Lance Armstrong’s fight against cancer. But when I look at the shiny yellow band now after the recent “tour de farce” it leaves me wondering: How strong is his personal brand really? And: should I still proudly wear the wristband – or not?

    The brands that affiliate with Armstrong are certainly asking themselves the exact same question. And they should, because their own credibility is on the line, as well.

    Let’s take Nike, one of Armstrong’s current sponsors. The brand represents the athlete in all of us, the desire to outperform ourselves by giving our best, and the beauty of (fair) athletic competition. It seems unlikely for the brand to continue to credibly build on Armstrong’s performance in sports, when it turns out that it wasn’t all his athleticism alone that got him to the top of the podium…

    If you think this case is already complicated enough to solve for by Nike and his other partners such as Oakley or Anheuser-Bush, just hang in there for a second – it gets more challenging.

    There is Lance the sports man. But there is also Lance the humanitarian. And you might think whatever you want about his alleged involvement in doping, but all he has unquestionably done relentlessly for cancer research deserves nothing but deep admiration. “Livestrong” has raised more than $500M since its inception in 1997. So, the Armstrong brand stretches way beyond the sport of cycling.

    In fact, Anheuser-Busch and others have already issued statements saying that they will continue their support of Armstrong and the Foundation. And Nike just launched a “Livestrong” collection, honoring the 15th anniversary of the foundation.

    I personally have concluded that I don’t believe that there is anything hypocritical about separating Armstrong the cyclist from Armstrong the humanitarian. Actually, this might be one of the rare cases where his corporate partners can benefit from showing ongoing support for a man that might have made mistakes in his professional career – but certainly has done everything right from a human and social perspective.

    This can be a moment where standing one's ground might bring about even more positive image transfer for the brands. Why? Because they’d make a statement about what really matters and give their brands a human touch – which in turn could win them more share of heart and mind than any Tour de France victory ever would.

    Dominik Prinz is Associate Director of Strategy at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Dan Spiegel and Asher Fink on Tuesday, August 28 2012 09:38 AM | Comments (0)

     Chin Up

    The 2012 Olympic Games are over and, as usual, did not disappoint. Now, after descending from our collective athletic honeymoon on Mount Olympus (London), the Paralympics, which start this week, would like us to return to the mount.

    Show up to work on Wednesday in your nation's colors, and if you get funny looks, point confused onlookers to British Channel 4’s breakthrough “Meet the Superhumans” campaign, which will surely get them fired up.

    Aided by the campaign, the Paralympics committee is expecting a sold-out crowd - a record number of roughly 2.8 million spectators. This is especially impressive given that the games offer 21 sports as compared with the Olympics’ 38.

    What makes “Superhumans” so powerful is its ability to transform our thinking around not only adaptive sports, but also adversity. While the Paralympics once jockeyed for our attention by offering yet another athletic pursuit amidst the scores of games we already watch, the “Superhumans” approach offers something fresh and, arguably, far more exciting.

    Superhumans shows us that paralymipans take their sport to a new and exciting level: we witness stories of greatness not despite, but as a result of intense disadvantage. Ultimately, “Superhumans” connects the notions of struggle with accomplishment – an insight particularly relevant given the ongoing problems across the macroeconomy. People around the world are being forced to make the best of their circumstances.

    The struggles of paralympians put our issues into perspective, and help us transform our problems into opportunities to, frankly, be badass. We become enthralled by the journey of an individual, rather than blindly follow a countryman we barely relate to.

    In contrast, the Olympians of yesterweek seem, well… just plain human. Watching the superhumans makes greatness feel within reach and gives hope and confidence to a generation, while providing an anthem of tenacity to the disadvantaged.

    Dan Spiegel is a Senior Consultant and Asher Fink is a Consultant for Interbrand.

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  • Posted by: Lorna Fray on Thursday, August 16 2012 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

    Olympics Themed Happy Meals 

    Loving it

    So the fastest man on earth ate a McDonald’s wrap before winning the men’s 100 metre final in London, as well as in Beijing. This wouldn’t impress Michelle Obama, who teased Gabby Douglas for setting back the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” initiative by eating in McDonald’s after her Olympic victory.

    Mrs. Obama has her work cut out in persuading us all to ditch fast food. McDonald's has announced that sales in its four Olympic Park outlets exceeded expectations by more than 50% during the Olympics. By the end of the Paralympic Games, which is set to begin on August 29 and close on September 9, the chain expects to serve more than 1.75 million meals in these branches.

    One of these branches is the world’s largest, and busiest, fast food restaurant. The 3,000 sq ft restaurant has 20 tills and serves up to 1,200 customers an hour, making it more than ten times busier than an average McDonald's. While there's some downtime between the close of the Olympic Games and opening of the Paralympics, during its six week run, this location is poised to sell a fair number of British staple chips (fries).


    McDonald's London 2012 

    The world’s biggest fast food outlet

    Before the Olympics, McDonald’s stated its intention to give visitors “the best possible customer experience in a great environment.” Is this possible in such a huge restaurant?

    At lunchtime on its first day of trading, McDonald’s was doing what it does best – serving people quickly and courteously – but on a much bigger scale. At 12:45, customer queues stretched across the considerable floorspace – people were queuing for 15–20 minutes before placing their food order. By 1pm, the queues had doubled in length, stretching out the door. At the same time, nearby food stalls had no queues, or negligible ones.

    Among the predominant family demographic, the appeal of McDonald’s was in its familiarity and treats. As had been widely publicized, McDonald’s was the only outlet in the park selling chips. Others came out of curiosity – there is a definite sense of occasion in visiting the world’s largest fast food restaurant, particularly as it is a temporary building. Despite the queues and rising temperatures in the building, the mood was very jovial, with people taking pictures and chatting animatedly.

    The View from McDonald's 

    Brand ambassadors

    Anyone coming near the restaurant is greeted by smiling, friendly staff who are having the time of their lives. One of these is Bernard, from Scunthorpe in the East Midlands, who enthused, “I absolutely love it; I'm thrilled to be here and am having the best time.” Aside from the atmosphere in the park, down-to-earth Bernard was enjoying staying in a “very posh” central London hotel.

    All 1,800 restaurant staff at the Olympics have been handpicked for the event, based on customer recommendations and managers' feedback. This is a clever way to acknowledge and reward their best employees, while ensuring that customers receive the best service.

    McDonald’s is also clever in its situation and its offer. The largest branch is right next to the Olympic Stadium, London 2012 Megastore and the main park restrooms – all magnets for visitors. It has an upstairs terrace with the best views of the Olympic Park, apart from the ArcelorMittal Orbit tower, which charges a hefty entrance fee. And the extensive outdoor patio seating is well-placed for diners to make the most of the atmosphere in the park, whatever the weather.

    McDonald's Terrace

    Green restaurant for the green games

    In some ways this branch doesn’t feel like a McDonald’s – it is airy, largely wooden with natural lighting, and surrounded by banks of wildflowers. Frequent diners may quibble at the slimmed down menu on offer – with no coffee or apple pies and fewer choices in each food category. But newcomers may be swayed by the restaurant’s environmental contribution to “the greenest Games ever.” The restaurant is McDonald’s first sustainable outlet, with most of the building materials due for reuse or recycling after the Paralympic Games.

    Eating fast food in a centre of sporting excellence is a contradiction that has attracted much criticism in the press, and standing in long queues to eat fried food perhaps compounds this. But eating convenience food at sporting events is not a new phenomenon, or one that is likely to go away anytime soon. And McDonald’s is taking steps to “Inspire a generation” to be active – all Happy Meals toys at the park are Olympic mascots styled as athletes, and come with vouchers for free trial sessions in athletics, badminton, canoeing, gymnastics, football, swimming or martial arts. "Let's Move!" fans would, perhaps, approve.

    Green McDonald's 

    Lorna Fray is a writer and editor for Interbrand.




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