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  • Posted by: Alexandra Meyer on Monday, February 10 2014 09:48 AM | Comments (0)

    Millennials – we are an impossible a challenging bunch. As an ode to marketers - we commend you for your efforts to satisfy our fellow uber-skeptical, hyper-disloyal peers. The challenge you face today and going forward will be unlike any other. Luckily, we Millennial Interbranders are here to help.

    As Alex Foss’s recent blog piece mentioned, “technology has made instant gratification part of Millennials’ everyday existence. Consequently, Millennials expect that brands weave technology just as seamlessly into their own experiences.” 

    This is no longer a differentiator for Millennials – it is table stakes. To succeed, brands must move beyond gratification and ensure the user experience truly delivers on the brand promise.

    Humans seek coherence with the products and services we interact with. When dissonance is detected – between the brand and its actual experience - the user becomes frustrated and will feel misled. Consequently, the brand risks losing a customer just as quickly as they gained one.

    Millennials simply don't tolerate poor experiences. With knowledge at our fingers tips we know where to go for alternatives. This is not to say that Millennials are the only group brands have to worry about, as other generations are also becoming savvier and less tolerant shoppers. (Two years ago, my father had never heard of Netflix let alone knew how to stream a movie. While last weekend, he became quickly agitated when AppleTV let us know it would be "a few minutes" of loading time before his movie began.)

    Your brand promise should be used as a means to shape the user experience and prioritize the most meaningful points of interaction. Brands need to ask themselves where they can find moments to deliver on their brand promise - through the user experience.

    Is it through the simplicity of being able to order an Uber taxi and know exactly its time to arrival? Is it through emulating an offline experience online, allowing us to virtually try on glasses as we shop, à la Warby Parker? Or is it putting the power back in our hands, and giving us the ability to self-express ephemerally through apps like SnapChat? These brands go beyond just satisfying our need for instant gratification - they imbue a branded experience that keeps us coming back for more.

    User experience as a means to deliver on the brand promise isn't just for savvy tech companies. Well-entrenched brands can and should begin to look at their user experience and identify places where the brand promise can be brought to life. For example, RBC is responding and appealing to Millennials by allowing them to pay through Facebook.

    Post by RBC.

    All of these moments - parts of the user experience - are so coherent with the brand promise that it's hard to pull them apart. Was that just a good user experience or was that the company delivering on the brand promise? The better you are at aligning these two, the more you are engaging a Millennial with the brand, and the more likely you will be to build loyalty with us. Our loyalty patterns run far and in-between. Although we might love your product, one bad experience could have us running in the other direction.

    At a time when mobile/digital mediums are pervading the minds of brand managers, user experience designers, and product managers it is easy to get sucked up into the generality of user experience best practices. These are important - but they are table stakes for Millennials. It is critical to be able to step back and always consider the brand promise. How will it be integrated into new mediums? How will it be translated through the experience and the interaction? How can we create a user experience that is frictionless and coherent with our brand promise? This will ensure your brand promise doesn't become diluted in a purely functional user experience that is anything but aspirational.

    Key Takeaways:

    • Going beyond interaction design for the sake of usability – deliver an experience that not only satisfies but delights.

    • Integrated teams: Foster communication and collaboration among user experience teams, brand/marketing teams and product managers.

    • Leverage the brand promise to guide and prioritize moments within the user experience so that the brand maximizes on every opportunity it has to communicate its value - its brand promise - to its users.

    Alexandra Meyer is a Senior Associate at Interbrand Toronto.

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  • Posted by: Nicole Diamant on Tuesday, February 4 2014 06:00 PM | Comments (0)

    Health TechNew developments in health tech and smartphone apps are giving patients more power than ever in the palms of their hands, allowing them to do everything from book appointments and keep in touch with physicians to track medication in their bodies and even produce personal EKGs.

    At InterbrandHealth, we consult with healthcare companies on how to best position and shape their brands to drive loyalty, perception, and premium. Successful brands recognize that brand experience strengthens a customer’s emotional relationship to their product. What better way to integrate your brand into consumers’ lives than with relevant smartphone tools? A consumer doesn’t need to have a serious condition to find these exciting and innovative apps pertinent to their lives.

    For example, Quest Diagnostics has three apps: one for scheduling, one for physicians, and one where patients can track their own health information. GE Healthymagination’s platform has nine apps and growing, ranging from weight loss and fitness tools to pregnancy and sleep monitoring programs. They even offer a game called Patient Shuffle, which tests the user’s ability to run a hospital. The health craze is extending to consumer brands as well; Nike has been pioneering life data devices like FuelBand for a few years now, and Under Armour just made headlines with its purchase of the exercise app MapMyFitness.

    While these programs can be entertaining and useful resources, could the technology ultimately be lifesaving? Physicians are now regularly using apps like Epocrates, a meticulous drug reference system; Isabel, a symptom synthesizer that offers possible causations; and AliveCor, a portable heart monitor that can produce EKGs. There are also apps to see how clean a hospital is, to turn your phone into an otoscope (a device that examines the ear), and to view x-rays and MRIs on your phone anywhere in the world.

    More apps are coming down the pike—some are even being produced via crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, truly demonstrating the public demand for health and wellness apps and information. A new program called Skulpt Aim measures fat percentages and muscle quality for better fitness. Chronic Wellness Tracker helps people with heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions tract symptoms and progress over time. Healthcare companies are even working on developing an ingestible GPS sensor, which can be swallowed with medication and relay information to your smartphone about your intake schedule and how the drug is affecting your body.

    As the healthcare industry continues to develop corporate and product branded apps, questions will be raised about the efficacy and efficiency of these technologies. Some may see the one-size-fits-all model as problematic, especially if consumers begin to diagnose themselves incorrectly. But most will see them as helpful, if not essential, to healthy living. As technological improvements are made, strong healthcare brands can recognize and harness the power these tools have in shaping brand experience for their consumers and in increasing loyalty, perception, and marketplace share. Future customers may just be a download away.

    Nicole Diamant is the Marketing Manager for InterbrandHealth.

    Connect with InterbrandHealth, the only full-service global branding consultancy with an exclusive focus on healthcare.

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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: Paola Norambuena on Friday, July 23 2010 10:37 AM | Comments (0)
    Etymology Header

    If there's an app for that, there's a name for that

    The 25th anniversary of the advent of Wi-fi got us thinking about names and technology. At the recent Fuse conference, noted inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil talked about the phenomenal leaps in human progress driven by the breakneck speed of evolution in technology.

    Kurzweil’s main point to brand managers and marketers: When it comes to technology, don’t underestimate the importance of brand. Because brands – and brand names – help us make sense of the world around us.

    This is particularly true of new technology, because one minute it doesn’t exist and the next it does – so we don’t have terms at hand to help us integrate it into our world. It’s why – to the horror of trademark lawyers everywhere (think genericide) – brand names come to be used as part of our everyday language. We Google ourselves, we Bing results, we TiVo that show, we Tweet the latest, we’re Wi-Fi enabled and there’s an app for that. And the list goes on.

    And technology naming doesn’t just change our vocabulary, it challenges regulations. Like URLs before them, apps have created a veritable wild west in the area of trademarks. As developers push the boundaries of what’s possible, and companies of every ilk rush to create them, we’re watching a race for names with little heed for traditional claims of ownership. For now, that is, because global trademark infringement rules still apply (see our tip in App-tly Named: Five Tips for Naming Your Mobile App).

    Technology changes the way we do things. Brands show us how. Names make it personal.

    Paola Norambuena
    Head of Verbal Identity


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  • Posted by: Amanda Yates on Friday, June 25 2010 03:59 PM | Comments (0)

    As Kevin Perlmutter mentioned in his last blog post (and describes in his article), the way we live, work and play is changing, thanks to wireless technology. In fact, I recently read that having no presence on mobile devices in 2010 is like not having a website circa 1999.  So true! The digital age is in hyperdrive.  3G access continues to increase (and 4G is already here!). Some stats say that up to 99 percent of the population will have some sort of data capability on their mobile phones by 2011.

    So what does this mean for retailers?  It means the need for a whole new view to their digital strategies. When a shopper can enter a store, scan a barcode, see that the same product is cheaper at a nearby competitor and click a link for directions to take them straight there, the game has suddenly been changed, so to speak.  There is an ever-expanding catalog of apps out there to enable this type of shopping behavior (in the store, in the car or on the run), and manufacturers like Apple are training customers via commercials and advertisements on how to use all these apps to simplify their lives.

    It might be easy to dismiss this trend given the relatively small percentage of people with iPhones or Droids today, but now is the time to start investigating and investing in individual strategies. Almost one third of Americans are already shopping via their mobile devices, and the number grows when you talk about Millenials and their mobile shopping habits.

    Two brands getting it right so far are Best Buy and Target, which both have useful apps. Best Buy’s app not only let’s you browse its extended online product assortment, but allows you to actually purchase via your mobile device (not many retailers are doing this yet). The app also lets the user locate stores and provides a map given your current location that leads you right there (the icon actually moves while you’re moving so you can see where you are in relation to the store). Finally it makes it easy to navigate, providing a “deals” page, as well as “ideas” and “gifting” pages, not to mention access to your “Rewards Zone” account.

    Meanwhile, while Target’s similar app doesn’t let you purchase via mobile, it provides a barcode scanning option that can be used in and out of the store to allow shoppers to find out more information about a product. Beyond price, it offers product information, customer reviews, and availability in your local store.

    So, like Target and Best Buy, the next move is to gain advantage and protect sales by offering shoppers what they want in the modes they desire. Not every retailer will need a full-blown program, but each must understand the needs of its customers, what information and access they are looking for and where or how they want to access it. Once these insights are known, the appropriate level of investment and how to spend it will become much clearer.

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