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  • Posted by: Christoph Meyer-Roscher on Friday, April 11 2014 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

    Recently I was invited to a nice little dinner at a friend’s place. Besides delicious dishes and drinks, there was something special about it. Everything was served in or on dinnerware she designed and created all by herself. How? Simple! She printed it.

    No longer in the realm of pure science-fiction, 3D printing has quickly become a science of its own and advanced rapidly over the last years, democratizing the process of 3D Design. Just by browsing through Thingiverse, a community sharing digital designs that can be transformed into physical objects at home, one realizes the pace of development this emerging movement has—with several new objects and designs being shared every hour. There are all kinds of little things you can print to enhance your daily life, but also bigger innovations on the way like 3D printed jet parts or experiments to print complete houses.

    Among some of the more groundbreaking applications, Dr. Anthony Atala, Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, pushes the boundaries of growing human cells, tissues and organs. In a TED Talk three years ago, he had already presented the prototype of a bio-printed kidney that could someday revolutionize organ donation. Or a more recent example: The Robohand project by Richard Van As, a woodworker from Johannesburg who lost four fingers in a work-related accident, and Ivan Owen, a theatrical prop designer from Seattle. They partnered up with MakerBot to develop a prosthetic hand that can be downloaded and printed for a total cost of around $150 USD.

    So, what are the ramifications of this technology for companies and their respective brands? Are we going to witness the rise of homegrown brands? Is the evolving opportunity for homemade production a threat to traditional manufacturing? From a historical perspective, rising threats are almost always accompanied by rising opportunities. And, in this case, it’s no different. Companies and brands can truly benefit from this technology in terms of workflow optimization and product innovation. For example, technology groups like GE and Siemens are using 3D printing technologies to speed up production processes across their business portfolios while reducing manufacturing costs. In another example, Nike released a first of its kind athletic shoe in 2013 that incorporated 3D printed football cleats: the Vapor Laser Talon. Constantly innovating around the shoe in its 3D printing and testing facilities, Nike unveiled an improved version in January, just in time to boost players’ performance during Super Bowl 48 to new heights.

    Beyond product innovation, an increasing number of brands are recognizing the huge potential of this technology to get audiences more involved and enhance the overall brand experience. Increasing its drive, Honda, following Porsche’s example (the brand published 3D printable data for mini Cayman cars), took this idea one step further and provided CAD data for some of their concept cars developed during the last twenty years. On the accompanying microsite people can download the cars and are invited to further develop the designs and play with them. Besides being a nice example of customer involvement, it is also an innovative recruitment tool that could help Honda attract the best and brightest car designers now and in the future.

    3D printing now also taps into the realms of food and cooking. Companies like 3D Systems, which teamed up with Hershey’s for its ChefJet Food Printer, or Barcelona-based Natural Machines, which invented the Foodini, are completely reimagining the future of food. During SXSW 2014, Mondelēz-owned Oreos created an engaging brand experience by combining social media with food printing technology for a real-time sweet-time: visitors are offered free Oreos from the “Trending Vending Machine” that incorporates trending flavors from Twitter conversations into the fillings.

    Just imagine the possibilities for other food brands. Maybe one day we’ll be able to buy chocolate printer ink from our favorite chocolate brands. Digital terminals inside retail spaces could allow people to instantly individualize their food. Printing cookies that match the tableware or food packages that come with digital cookbooks containing CAD data are touches that could really rock a birthday party.

    Other great future opportunities lie within the world of professional cooking for chef-focused brands like Unilever Food Solutions. Such brands could influence kitchens in real-time by incorporating live feedback from chefs into their product mix and making them co-creators or enabling them to fulfill the wishes of their most demanding guests with surprisingly imaginative solutions.

    The sky is the limit when it comes to 3D printing. It’s going to be very exciting to see how the technology evolves over the next few years and how brands will leverage this form of digital creativity to connect with audiences and create outstanding experiences together.

    Christoph Meyer-Roscher is a Designer at Interbrand Central & Eastern Europe

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  • Posted by: Interbrand on Tuesday, January 7 2014 06:19 PM | Comments (0)

    Our social listening experts and on-the-ground Interbrand team are monitoring the interwebs and live press conferences at CES 2014 this week to bring you the latest product launches and innovations from the world's leading technology brands. Check out our recap of the biggest connected ecosystem stories and latest tech gadgets, live from Las Vegas, and follow @Interbrand on Twitter as we follow the buzz from Las Vegas this week. Stay tuned for news about how brands are forging connections, making consumers' lives better in the car and at home with wearable health trackers, and more.

    Samsung looks to partner brands to create a truly connected home - Yes, Samsung's 85-inch bendable TV sparkled, but its announcement of the "Smart Home" demonstrated the brand's understanding of the connected ecosystem's importance. Although this concept isn't first to market, Samsung's single platform will connect all smart devices and home appliances, allowing consumers to monitor and control every aspect of their home from any mobile device (phone, wearables, etc.). Initially, Samsung plans for the app to only work with its own products, but the brand understands that its future success relies on partnering with other brands' devices, as to create a truly connected home for consumers. [Engadget]

    AT&T Creates a "Smartphone on Wheels" - At the AT&T Developer Summit on Monday AT&T's announcements included the Drive Studio, a collaborative garage where partnering automakers will engage with the AT&T Drive technology to create a safe "smartphone on wheels," as Fast Company puts it.

    Text your appliances what to do with LG's HomeChat - LG's HomeChat app introduces a new level of consumer convenience and control. With an app that allows users to text their home appliances from anywhere, the sky's the limit: ask the fridge if you are out of milk while at the grocery store or start a wash cycle before arriving home from vacation. [CNET]

    Wearable Health Gadgets Off To a Running Start at CES - Wearable technology brands like Nike and Kolibree are improving lives in a growing market, connecting health-tech devices used across life spaces. We're looking forward to seeing the impact of these brands in 2014. [brandchannel]

    Intel Brings "Human-Like Senses" To Devices - Intel's RealSense technology aims to make tech feel more "human-like" through voice, touch, gestures and 3-D notebook cameras. [Forbes]

    Sony reveals its fun side with wearable tech - Demonstrating the brand's latest vision centered around "play," Sony announced the SmartBand, a gadget that captures not only physical motion, but emotion as well. This device will monitor consumers' daily activities and visually represent them in the Lifelog app, allowing users to reminisce about their past and plan for the future. [CNET]

    Monitor grilling temps with iDevices - iGrill2 serves up a little help in the kitchen for the grill master of the house, allowing you to monitor your meat's progress on the grill from your smartphone. Never overcook your steak again! [CNET]

    To learn more, please contact Andrea Sullivan, Chief Marketing Officer, North America at asullivan@interbrand.com. To subscribe to The Connected Ecosystem: Interbrand at CES, please click here

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  • Posted by: Hugh Tallents on Wednesday, May 29 2013 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

    The last CTIA Wireless conference in its current form allegedly took place in Las Vegas last week. I say “allegedly” because even those in Vegas had no idea it was happening. The big players in the technology industry stayed away from Nevada having pretty much told their story at SXSW and CES. What was left was a fascinating exercise in the smaller mobile and tech brands trying to push themselves into the shop window for a takeover by making themselves as pretty, but unthreatening, as possible.

    It has long become apparent that the gap between the have and have-nots in the tech industry is increasing. CTIA 2013 showed no evidence that there are any companies out there that are currently capable of challenging them and playing a meaningful role in the future behavior of the US consumer. This is not to say there weren’t some interesting plays out there.

    Box touted its platform as enabling “simple, secure collaboration on any device” with a particular focus on small business, an audience that many large tech players are struggling with. Payvia offered an intriguing Carrier Billing Mobile Payment system and Sonostar previewed its “pearl-like” “Simply Smart” smart watch, but the overriding feeling among attendees was that the biggest gap between large and small tech players is the development horizon that they are able to focus on. Small technology firms, which need to sell today, are creating products with no real future vision on display and no sense that they can help define the future of wireless technology. They may make the cases, screen cleaner and carrying case, but that’s about it.

    I left CTIA with an overwhelming sense of what these companies weren’t focusing on. Authentication technology, big data and analytics for small business and voice/speech technology are all rich areas for exploration, and all were significant by their absence. There was also a complete and total absence of the consumer in any of the tech products on display. There was an overwhelming obsession with Machine 2 Machine (M2M) that seemed to operate in a world where people no longer exist. A terrifying prospect for us all.

    The biggest announcement was by Verizon, which brought along—drum roll, please—Jennifer Lopez to unveil Viva Movil, a new brand designed in partnership with JLo to transform the wireless experience for the Latino consumer. The announcement generated fairly limited buzz in the press but in the context of the show overall, it was the big news.

    The best exhibit was a simulator for It Can Wait, AT&T’s pro-social platform that aims to educate teens to not text and drive. Drivers got behind the wheel of a real sedan and attempted to text while driving a simulated course. Suffice to say I will not be texting and driving after that experience. They are encouraging young people to take the pledge not to text and drive.

    Beyond the wireless network carriers, four companies are best-positioned to tackle the future and define where the world is going: Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook. Sadly, none of them exhibit at Vegas in either January for CES or May for CTIA, even though both shows have such a profound effect on what everyone else is doing that the smallest whisper of Facebook’s Social Graph or Google Wi-Fi in New York can send the rest of the world into the deepest throes of Monster-induced development frenzy.

    Perhaps it will all change next year, when the CTIA’a annual mobile showcase will relaunch as Super Mobility Week with high hopes that moving to September will attract bigger announcements and more buzz. One can only hope—its final conference felt a little like the last person dancing at the party while the hosts clean up around them.

    Hugh Tallents is a Senior Director in Interbrand New York’s Strategy Group

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  • Posted by: Claire Falloon on Wednesday, April 24 2013 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

    Claire FalloonMobile, big data, content and disruption, the usual suspects, were all marched across the stage at the 2013 Ad Age Digital Conference. One theme, close to all our hearts, truly dominated: the humans that give every brand their reason for being.

    Whether the motives behind it are altruistic, dollar-driven or both, the result does seem to be better experiences for people. From insights to new levels of convenience to heart-wrenching, real-life adverstories, at this year’s Ad Age Digital Conference, humanity was the bee in every business’ bonnet.

    Some were using it to greater effect or on a more meaningful level than others. Google, for example, walked the walk, eschewing any talk of "digital marketing," opting instead to talk about storytelling. They didn’t just talk about it, but presented it in a way that embodied the ideas they were touting, wowing a late-afternoon crowd with a spine-tingling, genuinely engaging and human-pleasing experience.

    Before we get too gooey, congratulating our Adland peers on being human after all, let’s not forget what this is all in aid of: sales, naturally. In these digitally enabled times it does appear, though, that the efforts of businesses to appeal to our human needs and desires is actually resulting in a better time for people.

    Digital video and original content is a great example. People like watching TV, movies and videos. If we’re to believe the speakers at Ad Age, people just like watching in general. People also like and need to watch on their own schedule, and they don’t want to pay too much or for things they don’t watch.

    Video Logos

    Starting from these basic human insights and then applying technology to the problem has brought new companies and business models into being: companies like Netflix, Hulu, Redbox and, more recently, Aereo. Aereo, using tiny digital TV antennas, allows consumers to view live broadcast television in HD on any internet-connected screen. Rejecting the traditional bundled options existing cable companies offer, CEO Chet Kanojia said the idea was to create a digital "cable" option from the consumer perspective, "to connect the dots for consumers so they can access the TV they want."

    It’s an idea that has caused more than a little controversy among the TV establishment, but has ultimately resulted in more options and better access for the TV-viewing public. Hulu takes a similarly disruptive view, using their digital capabilities to free them from the usual constraints of scheduling and ratings, and allowing them to focus on finding and creating quality content tailored to their wide range of viewers. Again, it’s a new approach to raking in the bucks for business, that absolutely pays off for the viewer.

    As ideas go, putting people at the center of any brand endeavor, digital or not, may seem more common sense than mind-blowing. But with brands and businesses properly putting their weight behind the effort, it appears we humans can only win.

    Claire Falloon is a Senior Consultant in Verbal Identity for Interbrand.

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  • Posted by: Amy Edel-Vaughn on Thursday, April 4 2013 01:53 PM | Comments (0)
    Martin Cooper with 1973 Cell & Facebook Home

    Pictured: Martin Cooper (from ArrayComm) & Facebook Home

    Yesterday the world celebrated the 40th anniversary of Motorola's demonstration of its portable telephone, the DYNA TAC system. Martin Cooper, then Vice President of Motorola, Inc., is said to have called a rival at AT&T's Bell Labs from the streets of New York City. According to an April 3, 1973 press release from Motorola, the new portable phone was expected to be available for public use as soon as 1976. The cell phone took a bit longer to take off with the public, but four decades later smartphones have become part of our daily lives and today president and CEO, AT&T Mobility, Ralph de la Vega was on hand at Facebook's big unveiling of Facebook Home.

    As David Vales, Senior Systems Engineer for Interbrand, noted in his recent blog post, Smart Phone Sector Heats Up With Big Launches, with BlackBerry's Z10 now available in the US and Samsung's release of the S4, which Vales describes as "very impressive," the smartphone race is intensifying. Today's Facebook unveiling was the introduction of Home, software designed to "turn your Android phone into a great, living, social phone," according to Tom Alison and Adam Mosseri in Facebook's newsroom. The first phone to come with Home pre-installed will be the HTC First, available exclusively from AT&T on April 12. Home will be downloadable on other Android devices, but won't have all of the features of HTC First.

    "Apps aren't at the center, but people are at the center and we bought into that" said de la Vega at the event. The new Home-ready HTC First phone will run on AT&T's 4G LTE network and will cost $99.99. Tech writer Chris Taylor who heads Mashable's editorial team commented, "Great coup for HTC and AT&T -- probably the largest captive audience they've had for a phone announcement." Mark Zuckerberg noted, "By putting people first, and then apps, it's one of many small, but meaningful changes in our relationship with technology over time."

     Ralph de la Vega

    Facebook Home brings its News Feed experience to users' mobile home screen. The new Home experience includes Cover Feed, Notifications, App Launcher, Instagram and Chat Heads. The latter, a mobile messenger that allows users to reply directly to friends instantly or move a floating head image of a friend when not ready to respond, inspired strong reactions in the comments section of Mashable's live streaming of the event. Chris Taylor reacted,"'Chatheads.' -- really?" and "'Chathead.' it really is going to take a while to get used to that word." 

    Chat Heads reactions

    Caitlin Barrett, Associate Director of Verbal Identity for Interbrand and the creative lead for Naming, responds to the name Chat Heads, "It's hard to say whether Chat Heads will change behaviors and expectations the way the 'Like' button did, but the name is just as absurdly simple—and perfectly aligns with the new chat experience." 

    Barrett adds, "Is it awkward? A bit, as it doesn't seem necessary to specify the parts of your friends with which you're chatting. And it doesn't fall naturally into everyday conversation: Will we talk about it like a platform? 'We talked on Chat Heads earlier today…' Or an activity? 'Let's Chat Heads later tonight.' This might very well be the point. If Facebook wants this to simply be the way we chat on Facebook, perhaps it doesn't want to take the hit by trying to brand what could easily become a generic term for this new style of chat. So is it a bad name? Certainly not. We all giggled at the iPad when it was first launched too, but as long as the functionality proves to be differentiated and useful, the name will cease to be part of the story."

    Jez Frampton and Colin Gillis on CNBCWhat does Facebook Home for Android mean for Apple? Several commenters in Mashable's chat and on Twitter expressed new shifting interest from Apple phones to Android. 

    As discussed on CNBC recently, concerns about Apple are growing. Colin Gillis of BGC Financial, CNBC's Jon Fortt and Interbrand's Jez Frampton discussed the slowdown in orders at China's Foxconn and if this is a sign of problems for Apple. Frampton observed, "In terms of the brand, there's no doubt about the fact that Apple still is one of the pacesetters in the market, Samsung are giving them a good run for their money, but this lack of innovation is a concern. To be honest we've been taught as consumers to expect the next new thing every other week almost, and now they're slow on the iPhone 5S. And what's next? Where's Apple TV?"

    Gillis added, "The market is still valuing [Apple] well north of $400 billion, but the market is changing. What we're seeing is lower cost competitors are getting traction. ...For Apple to maintain their margins and to maintain the volume units, they need to keep innovating and that's an issue for the company right now."

    What does it mean for Google? Commentor Lance Ulanoff asked Chris Taylor during the live chat today, "Has anyone asked specifically about Google+? Chris Taylor responded, "Nope, but this really does seem like another nail in Google+'s coffin." JoeyMartin91 commented, "If I'm Google, I'm nervous. Facebook just took my niche market and rewrapped it." Robert Stephens, founder of The Geek Squad and former CTO of Best Buy, tweeted:

    The reveal today raises a number of questions about privacy concerns, battery life and, of course, consumer interest. Understanding consumers will have many questions, Facebook has planned for trials of Home before users commit to downloading it or purchasing the HTC First pre-loaded with Home, a smart move. We'll also be following this initial post with more on Home and what it means for the marketplace in blogs to come.

    Amy Edel-Vaughn is Interbrand's Community Manager.

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