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  • Posted by: Stefanie Roshop, Kai Klopsch, Eva Kuhlmann and Julien Dolenc on Monday, January 20 2014 11:30 AM | Comments (0)
    Car Colors

    The world's eyes have been on the new car trends emerging during the Detroit Auto Show. One of the surprise trends? Bright blue cars. As Chris Woodyard in USA Today put it, "For years now, auto shows have bedeviled photographers by showing new models in colors that designers lover, but which make blah images — white, medium gray or silver. But this year, bright blue seemed to be the new gray — the "in" show color. The Porsche Targa, Lexus RC F, BMW M3, VW Passat high-efficiency model, Chrysler 200 and half the Audi stand featured cars in Smurf-like blue."

    Vehicle styles change, and so do the colors they are available in. The first cars were painted black, white, olive green and, in exceptional cases, Capri Blue. Then in the 1970s, manufacturers began offering more bold colors like Fluorescent Orange and Neon Jade for individualists who wanted to set themselves apart. In the late 1980s and especially in the 90s, discreet shades of gray were predominant. Over the past few years, however, cars in more conspicuous colors have increasingly been spotted on our streets and roads.

    Nowadays, if you want to buy a car with a “Curry” paint job, you’re probably in for trouble. Not only because you will have to justify your selection to your friends and relatives, but also because it’s a shade one doesn’t see much anymore – and if you do find a car in that color, it won’t be called "Curry". More likely it will be "Dakar Yellow" or "Mustard Yellow."

    "The colors manufacturers offer, and especially the names they use for them, reflect the current positioning of the various brands,” said Richard Veit, managing director of Interbrand. “They correspond to the respective brand personality and are part of the verbal identity of the manufacturer brands.”

    Why is that? And what does the designation of a color have to say about the interplay between brands and their target groups?

    Some brands exhibit more adventurousness in the wording they use, e.g. in response to quick-changing trends. For example, 40 years ago Opel offered "Cosmic Blue," followed in the 80s with "Smoke Blue." In the 90s they even floated creative terms like "Lifestyle Blue." Today, Opel has come full circle and is offering colors like "North Sea Blue" and "Ocean Blue," which at least have the advantage that people can more or less imagine what they will look like.

    Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, places more store in continuity. Back in the 1970s you could already buy the 350 SL in Manganese Bronze, or from 1980 the 380 SL in Lapis Lazuli. Today you’ll find shades like "Cubanite Silver," "Cavansite Blue" and "Sanidine Beige." The colors of the minerals may not be familiar, but they all impart an impression of superior quality and underscore the high standards typical of Mercedes products – and of the company’s brand communication.

    Another brand that has resisted major changes to its color designations is Ford. Some names have changed, and shades like "Forest Green" have been replaced with "Ginger Ale," but in place of the "Tile Blue" that was once popular you will now find the hardly more specific "Atlantic Blue." Ford continues to prefer designations that invoke pretty clear images, it’s just that the terms have been modernized a bit.

    When Audi began making inroads into the premium segment, it started using more elegant color designations. A good 20 years ago you could choose a "Stone Gray" paint job for the Audi 80; in the 1990s there was the sleek "Diamond Silver," and today the A7 is available in discreet "Oolong Gray," named after the Chinese tea.

    Depending on the model, the VW brand offers both simple and elegant color designations. For example, while the VW Crafter van is available in robust “Steel Blue,” it’s hard to imagine an “Avocado Green” Phaeton. Indeed, that model is only available in subdued colors with names like "Beryllium Gray" and "Campanella White."

    Geographical names are always popular designations for car colors. BMW for example used terms like “Fjord” and “Riviera” in the 1970s, followed by such shades as "Biscay Blue" and "Ascot Gray" a decade later. Today the brand sports elegant hues with mellifluous names such as "Havana Metallic" and "Valencia Orange." Thus BMW maintains consistency while responding to current trends. The sound of the color’s name is more important than specificity – incidentally a tendency that is also apparent with Kia and Toyota, which have chosen the names of relatively obscure places for their "Zilina Black", "Kiruna Silver" and "Pianosa White."

    Then there are the flights of fancy characteristic of expensive brands like Aston Martin and Jaguar, which offer "Viridian Green" and "Italian Racing Red." But not all exclusive brands select highfalutin designations, as evidenced by Maserati, whose Italian sports cars come in minimalistic Nero, Bianco and Grigio. Maserati clearly sets itself apart from its competitors in this regard.

    Chevrolet presents a good example of how color designations can be adapted for potential target groups. Buyers – mostly female – of the Spark model select from emotionally appealing colors such as "Honey Mellow Yellow," "Secret Lavender" and "Bluebell Blue" – names that are reminiscent of nail polish colors like "Raspberry Fields Forever" and "Clubbing with Dracula."

    Some automotive brands have made big changes in the names of the colors they offer, while others have not. As the example of Audi shows, color designations often give an indication of the direction the brand is going.

    The colors themselves are also subject to trends, and some colors – as well as color designations – rotate in and out of popularity with time. Back in the day, the Audi 80 came in "Tornado Red," and now you can buy a VW Beetle in the same color. The selection of available paint jobs is always a featured element of brand communication, and is an important component of the brand’s overall identity.

    No matter what trendy colors the future holds in store fur us, you will likely find yourself choosing from names such as "Aviator Blue", "Mangaro Brown" and "Unicorn White". Just be glad there’s no more "Curry" on offer.

    Stefanie Roshop, Kai Klopsch, Eva Kuhlmann and Julien Dolenc are members of the Naming Team at Interbrand Hamburg.


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  • Posted by: Paula Pou on Monday, July 29 2013 10:47 AM | Comments (0)
    Detroit

    While explaining the decision behind Detroit's record-setting $18.5 billion Chapter 9 filing, Kevyn Orr, the city’s state-appointed emergency manager, was surrounded by posters and banners of the Detroit skyline. Each one was stamped with the words, “Reinventing Detroit.”

    As the fight over the constitutionality of the filing has headed to the U.S. federal court, it’s a good time to consider what Detroit’s brand is, exactly — and how it’s being reinvented.

    At first glance, it’s easy to romanticize Detroit as a cautionary tale of the American dream gone awry. The history is everywhere, with Detroit cast as the Motor City that Ford built, or as the cradle of Motown, or as Detroit Rock City. It’s the same Detroit known for mass population exodus, for a struggling auto industry, for the country’s poorest performing education system and highest unemployment rate. Both sides of the coin are true and, when viewed from 30,000 feet, can be easy to dismiss with a shrug and some commentary about times being tough everywhere. But on the ground, something interesting is happening at the very foundation of the Detroit brand.

    We’re from America

    During the 2011 Super Bowl, Chrysler (which is partly owned by Fiat) aired the “Imported from Detroit” ad featuring Eminem. Ostensibly about the Chrysler 200, the commercial was really a two-minute history of Detroit from Detroit—a downtown still resplendent with buildings and architectural detail from a time when the city was the richest in America stood in stark opposition to the narrator’s reference that the city had "been to hell and back."

    The Detroit depicted by Chrysler as one that blends luxury and quality with blue-collar, dirt-under-the-fingernails pride starts to get at the heart of what makes the city’s brand so complex. “Imported from the Detroit” was a pitch-perfect articulation of what lays at the heart of the Detroit brand—the full spectrum of America, from coast to coast, contained in one place.

    New frontiers

    Since 2011, start-ups lured by the story of Detroit have sprouted up throughout the city. That “hell and back” story the city keeps living casts Detroit as a Wild West kind of place, with land and opportunity for the taking if you’ve got grit and passion. Taking advantage of available labor and real estate capacity, entrepreneurs are also drawn by the credibility it gains simply from being in and of Detroit.

    Inspired by Detroit’s rich history of American craftsmanship and manufacturing, spanking-new brands like Shinola, a lifestyle brand whose tagline is “Where American is made,” can claim heritage and relevance from day one. Founded by Tom Kartsotis (who also founded the Fossil watch brand), Shinola hired former autoworkers accustomed to the dexterity and attention required to work on a supply line, and trained them to become master watchmakers.

    Since launching earlier this year, every line of Shinola watches has sold out within days of going on sale. The brand is growing its roots in Detroit soil, laying claim to the history of the place while seamlessly (and credibly) proclaiming itself a part of the city’s next chapter.

    Much of that next chapter involves becoming a model city others can admire instead of shunning. Take 4444 Second Avenue, which used to be a showroom for Model Ts and is now home to the Green Garage, a living laboratory and co-working space. The brainchild of Tom and Peggy Brennan, the building is an incubator for triple-bottom-line businesses (healthy for the environment, economics, community) and attracts more than 200 volunteers ready to make an impact on Detroit’s community. Using Detroit’s storied legacy of entrepreneurship, Green Garage attracts visionaries of sustainability to the land that cars built—a story come full-circle; the back from “hell and back.”

    Detroit 2.0

    Dan Gilbert, the Quicken Loans chairman and majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is also betting on his hometown, snapping up properties along downtown Detroit. In a plan he refers to as Detroit 2.0, he’s been creating a cluster of entrepreneurial companies created to lure other start-ups away from Chicago, New York and Silicon Valley.

    Explaining his vision for Detroit earlier this year, Gilbert told a group of reporters that "it's about more than investments or changing what is; it's making sure that what could and will be stays here in Detroit.”

    Nostalgia and history will take the Detroit 2.0 brand only so far. To be truly successful, the next chapter of the city will need to break away from the “hell and back” narrative that’s become too familiar in too many places across the country. To be relevant, Detroit 2.0 will have to start telling a new tale: a fresh story about sustainable cities, the workforce of the future, and investing in real ideas that build real things.

    Paula Pou is a Senior Consultant, Verbal Identity, Interbrand New York.


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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: Alex Leopold on Thursday, November 29 2012 04:08 PM | Comments (0)

    Diesel

    With hybrids and electrics receiving all the attention in the automotive efficiency wars most consumers are unaware of the onslaught of diesel-powered cars that will soon be arriving on this side of pond. Clean diesel sales were up 35% in the first quarter of 2012 over Q1 2011, so automotive manufacturers aren’t about to slow the diesel production pace just because “hybrid” and “plug-in” are the buzzwords in the US.

    While diesel models might be old news in Europe, it’s still uncharted territory to most shoppers in the States. What is loud and clear to consumers here is that the “Big Three” are primarily focused on hybrid and full-time/plug-in electric technology when it comes to the on-going fuel efficiency war.

    What you don’t see are the European manufacturers lurking right around the corner anxiously waiting to gobble up our diesel market share. BMW is expecting to deliver its diesel offerings to the U.S. for almost its full line of passenger cars and SUVs. BMW first introduced diesels back in 1983 and is back in the game knowing that fuel economy sells. Expect to see BMW expand diesel offerings for everything from the X1 through the 7 series sedan beginning in 2014.

    Volkswagen, the most recognized name in diesel vehicles here, has also been expanding its TDI line adding the Passat and Toureg to their aready familiar and well-selling Golf and Jetta TDI line. Expect the Tiguan to available with a diesel option in approximately 2015.

    Mercedes-Benz now offers its BlueTEC Clean Diesel not just for the M and GL series SUVs, but now customers can fill passenger cars with diesel fuel in the full size E and S series sedans. Expect a GLK diesel in the near future.

    Not waiting around to see how the competition does before making a move in the US, Audi too plans on expanding its line of diesels to the Q5 in 2014. Right now Audi only offers a diesel option on the entry level A3 and its largest SUV, the Q7.

    Should you be a Japanese car loyalist, Mazda recently announced 2014 iterations of the Mazda 6 sedan and the new CX-5 crossover. Getting diesel dizzy yet?

    So are US auto manufacturers missing the fuel efficiency boat like they did two decades ago? Well fortunately the Big Three aren’t exactly sleeping at the wheel, but they have yet to fully jump into the diesel pool with both feet for anything with four wheels other than truck lines. That certainly doesn’t mean they are not grabbing their piece of the fuel efficiency pie.

    Expect the Chevy Cruze diesel in 2014 and a Cadillac ATS diesel after that. Chrysler will also offer the Jeep Grand Cherokee with a diesel engine as a 2014 model.

    Even though Ford may not have any immediate plans to offer a diesel option in passenger cars, expect the Fusion Hybrid and C-Max to attract a lot of attention and if hybrids, plug-ins and diesels gets you confused go for Ford’s new 1 liter EcoBoost engine, Ford’s answer to the small diesel.

    Alex Leopold is Interbrand's Brand Presentation Manager.

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  • Posted by: Andy Wright on Wednesday, March 24 2010 09:15 AM | Comments (0)

    Social media can be, in many ways, a dream come true.  What brand manager wouldn’t be happy if their brand was so loved that consumers marketed it themselves – something we’ve seen with Nick Haley’s iPod Touch ad and blogs like J. Crew Aficionada?

    Indeed, in recent years, we’ve seen brand managers attempt to harness the power of social media by reaching out to natural brand ambassadors and embracing user generated content through crowdsourcing or other means. But as many are realizing, while crowdsourcing can be great (and often times, budget friendly), it comes with its own set of rules. In these types of campaigns, it is the brand manager’s job to give users the tools and opportunities to meet and come together. However, if there’s an attempt to drive them to action or exercise too much control, brands risk major backlash.

    Case 1: Vegemite Sets Itself Up To Fail
    Vegemite so nearly got it right when it launched a contest to uncover a new name for an upcoming product launch of a cream cheese and Vegemite variant. A brand so loved (and hated) in Australia that thousands of people rose to the challenge.

    Facebook groups were created promoting names that like-minded fans agreed with. Nearly 50,000 names were submitted to the Vegemite website. Vegemite had successfully engaged an enormously loyal fan base.

    But then, Vegemite made a major misstep when it chose the name iSnack 2.0, without polling its audience. Yes, it was on the list of crowdsourced names. However, rather than have users select from a list of five top crowdsourced names to whittle down the favourite or investigate which names appeared to have the most fans, they picked one that proved to be hugely unpopular.


    Once loyal fans created dozens of Facebook groups and Twitter streams that explained why they felt they’d been slapped in the face. The outrage extended into the real world as t-shirts were made and supporters of the anti-iSnack movement wore them as a statement.

    Vegemite learned the hard way that you can’t go halfway – if you are going to ask your customers to engage with your brand on such an intense level, you need to listen to what they have to say and really give them what they want. Still, it learned from its error.  Taking the negative backlash as a sign to take back the name, it attempted to repair the damage by asking users to vote on a new name.

    Case 2: Chevrolet U-Turns Negative Feedback Into Positive Product
    While fear of the negative (or negative backlash) is what prevents many brands from touching crowdsourcing, as Chevrolet demonstrated, sometimes negativity can be made into a positive.

    In 2005 Chevrolet invited consumers to create ads for its SUV The Tahoe. The campaign drew 30,000 entries in four weeks. While the majority of ads were positive, Chevrolet received some negatives ones as well, criticizing the SUV’s contribution to global warming, social irresponsibility, and the war in Iraq.  Rather than taking them down, however, Chevrolet allowed them to stay posted.

    Then, it did something interesting – it responded to the negative ads on its corporate blog. Rather than viewing the event as a chaotic mess, Chevy said it welcomed the opportunity to clarify the facts regarding fuel economy and consumer choice.  Then, addressing consumers’ concerns, Chevrolet created the 2008 Tahoe Hybrid, which was named Green Car Journal’s 2008 Green Car of the Year.

    What could have been an embarrassing failure turned into a market research opportunity.  Chevrolet was able to listen to its customers and give them what they want.

    Case 3: Brands sit back and let the users do the work
    Meanwhile, although crowdsourcing allows brands to maintain some control of what is being said about their brand, in the end, truly user generated social media events are most effective at enhancing your brand.

    Sports team fans, for example, have set up post-match events, chants, and demonstrations on Facebook and blogs, with a passion and zeal that likely could never be matched by a brand manager. Team Conan blitzed the Internet through Facebook and other social media channels resulting in street protests voicing their support and displeasure at the removal of Conan O’Brien as Tonight Show host. Michael Jackson’s death sparked Flash mobs all over the world. Town Holler, created by two Foursquare fans (not employees), has helped generate an overwhelming interest in Foursquare and captured the attention of already loyal fans.

    While user generated social media events mean less control, ultimately they carry the most potency because they are as authentic as it gets. While you may not be able to predict whether they will happen, the more your brand is aligned with your customers’ belief and values, the more likely you are to capture loyal brand ambassadors.

    Striking the right balance
    Inviting your audience to participate in your brand through social media requires a certain kind of hands on/hands off balance. While the online space allows for engagement at a deeper and more creative level, it requires brands to be flexible, courageous, transparent, and open to what their customers say and deliver.  It’s about listening, being present in the conversation, responding and providing food for thought.  It is not about censoring customers or taking up a solely defensive position. Remember, your customers aren’t stupid, and word of mouth is the most powerful influencer on earth – now more than ever since it spreads like wildfire online. So, while you should cultivate brand ambassadors in your customers (they can be great advocates and sources of inspiration) never abuse the relationship. Customers are going to catch on, and catch you off guard.

    This post is the sixth in a series called That’s Debatable: Social Media Edition – posts designed around oft-debated topics in our community, meant to spark conversation and gather different perspectives. Learn more about That’s Debatable, and take our social media survey.

     

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