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  • Posted by: Elyse Burack on Thursday, April 17 2014 04:09 PM | Comments (0)

    Analysts have long debated whether or not the Cable and Satellite TV industry is doomed. Subscriptions to Pay TV are at their lowest level in four years as consumers are seemingly beginning to “cut the cord” and cobble together their own solutions for cheaper and more flexible entertainment options. To add to the matter, the American Customer Satisfaction Index reveals that scores for TV service are, on average, lower than any other consumer sector. The lack of satisfaction is attributed to chronic rate hikes, clunky set top boxes, poor customer service, and a lack of control over which channels one pays for.

    As pent-up frustrations with traditional Pay TV providers increase, customers are turning to “over-the-top” (OTT) providers including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Late last year, the Xbox One, PS4, and Chromecast emerged making it even easier to watch web-based video. Additionally, emerging disruptive startups continue to reshape the landscape. Aereo, for example, allows consumers to watch and record live TV over the Internet—without having any hardware installed—for a mere $8 a month.

    While there is debate about whether OTT will ever completely replace TV, it’s clear that the way consumers watch video is changing. Streaming services have broken down traditional barriers to viewing content and, as the world becomes more mobile, consumers want to watch content wherever and whenever on any device. Additionally, consumers are increasingly “binge-viewing,” or watching at least 2-3 episodes of a single series in one sitting. According to a 2013 Harris Interactive survey, 61 percent of adult viewers binge watch on a regular basis. This trend is shifting the economics of the industry, given that traditional providers rely heavily on advertising and syndicated reruns.

    Until very recently, Pay TV providers have been able to successfully dig moats around their current business model, only making incremental tweaks to their products and positioning in the marketplace. Recent deals between Verizon and Intel or Comcast and Netflix suggest the incumbents are making significant investments in innovation. Traditional providers have also made technological improvements such as On Demand programs and “TV Everywhere” apps that allow customers to watch certain channels live on mobile devices. While these are certainly positive product improvements, they are not going to revolutionize the video and TV industry. The truth is, incumbents are reluctant to take the risks required to really innovate the category more radically. It’s the disruptors that are remaking the industry.

    Case in point: the fall of Blockbuster and the rise of Netflix. Blockbuster executives were too shortsighted to see the future of the home video industry and failed to recognize how quickly consumer behavior was shifting. Rather than adapting its business model to embrace streaming early on, Blockbuster pursued short-term growth by expanding its stores into outlets for books, toys, and other merchandise. Eventually it jumped on the DVD delivery trend, but it was too late at that point. Blockbuster soon filed for bankruptcy.

    In light of recent trends, many industry speculators are quick to proclaim the demise of the TV industry. But perhaps the true threat lies in the missed opportunity. After all, big companies have big capabilities. Having more resources, more reach, and an established customer base, traditional cable providers actually have greater potential than smaller, disruptive players to invest in innovation and reset industry norms. They can not only adapt, but also lead. By rethinking how they deliver their services and repositioning their brands as visionary, nimble, and cool, traditional cable providers can recapture lost subscribers and market share. This involves not only developing a campaign, but also closely examining and responding to unmet needs. Today, consumers crave seamless interoperability between devices, control over their video options, compelling content, and attentive customer service. They’re engaged by 30-second YouTube clips, but are also increasingly prone to watching 30 hours of their favorite TV series on demand. What does that mean for traditional programming? Should TV evolve into something more social? Or is more personalization the key? It’s a complex landscape and there are no easy answers, but the providers that apply their creativity and resources to the challenge will ultimately lead the charge to innovate.

    While no one can be certain of the future of TV and video consumption, it’s safe to say that it will continue to evolve. As for incumbent providers, the opportunity is theirs to seize or overlook: Do they want to actively shape their industry’s future or simply follow suit?

    Elyse Burack is a Strategy Consultant at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Katie Conneally on Friday, January 24 2014 05:05 PM | Comments (0)

    Today is the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh computer, and as CES 2014 proves, we've come a long way since then. While this is the end of our CES naming wrap up, this is just the start of a conversation on technology and branding that we’ll continue in future blog posts.

    After taking a look at the names for trending and everyday technology that came out of CES 2014, it’s clear that companies are trying to pack in as much meaning as possible, favoring descriptive names that ensure clarity. Which begs the question: how do you name an emerging technology—those things that are less product, and more concept—if it’s something the world has not yet described?

    Take Edison, the latest, greatest miniature computer from Intel. It’s a 22 nanometer dual-core PC, a little bigger than a postage stamp, that has the potential to transform wearable technology into something much more powerful. But its exact purpose isn’t known yet, which is why Intel is offering developers over a million dollars in prize money in their “Make it Wearable” competition. 

    Edison

    And the name? A nod to Thomas Edison, one of the great inventors who made much of the technology we have today possible. That’s a pretty big legacy to live up to in a name, but the product seems like it may be able to deliver. The name Edison also seems like a challenger to IBM’s Watson, the artificially intelligent computer who once bested humans at Jeopardy. Game on.

    There’s also Oculus Rift VR, an augmented reality headset that you wear while playing video games. The name sounds techy and cool, and alludes to the act of seeing through the goggles, while also conveying the idea of a rift between what’s real and what’s virtual. 

    But the product feels like so much more, and early uses for it are stepping outside of the gaming world. With a name so targeted toward a gaming audience, there’s a risk of alienating those who fall outside that space, and a chance that really interesting applications of the product may be overlooked.

    Auto-maker Ford got into the technology game at CES 2014, releasing a concept car called the C-Max Solar Energi Concept. It’s an electric car and a solar powered charging station all-in-one, with solar panels on the roof to charge the car’s batteries. 

    But while the car itself may be efficient, the name certainly is not. It’s an extension of their line of C-Max Hybrid cars, but the unnecessary coining of “Energi” makes it seem trite. Coining a name to say “cool” falls flat when it doesn’t have a broader purpose. Since this is a concept, there’s time to change the name and we hope Ford can find something that expresses just how amazing this product has the potential to be.

    As we wrap this year’s review of names from CES 2014, we’re excited to see what next year brings. Will the names suggest experiences beyond our wildest imagination? Or will companies stay with the trend of descriptive naming? All we know is that as technology gets more and more advanced, names will play a critical role in helping consumers understand and connect to the next big thing.

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


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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: Jerome McDonnell on Monday, September 24 2012 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

    As reported on brandchannel.com, Yahoo! recently decided to remove the trademark registration symbol [®] from its logo, discarding something that has been a part of its brand identity since 1995. Apparently a new employee was “bugged” by the symbol, so CEO Marissa Mayer allowed them to go on a spree removing the offending item from the website and company campus. Mayer even posted an image of one of the forsaken “R’s” on Instagram.

     Trademark Registration Symbol

    While use of the trademark symbol ™, (SM) or ® is not mandatory (as Mayer later tweeted, “Legal assures us that our trademark is implied and quite secure”) it does serve a purpose: not only does “marking” provide notice of ownership rights (or claim to ownership of the trademark) and help reinforce the public’s association of the mark with its owner, it also may allow the owner to assert certain types of damages in lawsuits against infringers. In the US, failure to use a registration notice [®] limits the remedies available to the owner in a lawsuit and may prevent a plaintiff from recovering damages and profits in a suit for infringement if the defendant is not shown to have actual notice of the registration.

    In this writer’s humble opinion, the ® isn’t just a symbol for Registered trademark, it’s a mark of Respect. Knowing the time, money and effort that generally goes into securing trademark registration, why shouldn’t ® be proudly proclaimed? The legal rights that are acquired through registration are significant and deserve acknowledgement, as indicated in the form of the “R” symbol. Why graduate with a Ph.D. if you’re only going to list high school on your resume?

    Rather than be seen as a hindrance to design aesthetic, the ® symbol can be regarded as a beauty mark or a badge of honor, to be displayed with pride. While typically placed to the upper or lower right of the mark, credit goes to brands that embrace the symbol in creative ways –

    • note how American Express puts it to the left of its logo:

    American Express

    • As does LEVI’S -- while also incorporating the ® as part of the overall design:

    LEVI'S

    • Broadcaster HBO at times uses the ® faintly:

    HBO

    • While the 20th Century Fox logo places it to almost 3-D effect:

    20th Century Fox

    • Meanwhile Intel (never one to shy away from trademark marking incorporated the ® symbol into the holding shape for “Intel Inside”:

    Intel Inside

    Let's acknowledge brand logos that blatantly alert consumers to the fact that they are trademarks… or trade marks, if you will:

    Metro Goldwyn Mayer:

    MGM

    Guinness:

    Guinness

    Heineken:

    Heineken

    Your trademark is your brand’s most valuable asset, and registration is earned through no small investment. It’s your property — and you should alert others to this fact. Like your favorite outfit or item of clothing, the trademark notice is not something that needs to be worn everyday — (typical guidelines recommend applying it at least once, in the first or most prominent use of the trademark) — but it sure does make you feel good when you have it on.

    One can’t help but wonder if Yahoo!’s clean-up efforts could perhaps have been put to better use, and TechCrunch, for example, speculates if the exclamation point is the next thing to go. Considering what removal of it did for Google, maybe Yahoo! was focusing on the wrong symbol all along.

    Jerome McDonnell is Group Trademark Director for Interbrand.

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  • Posted by: Nicole Briggs on Tuesday, July 10 2012 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

    Kanye West 

     Photo Courtesy of TMZ

    Kanye West believes he is “Way Too Cold.” Perhaps he’s way too cool to be blamed for trademark dilution. West has released a song titled “Theraflu” along with explicit imagery that included the product. Theraflu has in no way endorsed or approved the use of their brand’s likeness or image in the manner Kanye West has used it. Shortly after Theraflu issued their statement of disapproval, Kanye officially changed the title of the song to “Way Too Cold.”

    Dilution occurs when a famous trademark is used in a context in which the trademark's reputation is adversely affected or its distinctiveness is weakened. Dilution can take two forms: blurring and tarnishment.

    The similarity between a famous mark and another mark may create an association between the two. This association between the two marks, or blurring, impairs the ability of the famous mark to retain its distinctiveness in a particular market. For example, Intel is best known for its production of semiconductor chips and microprocessors. If an unaffiliated company used Intel on shoes, it would cause blurring to the Intel brand.

    Tarnishment is an association arising from the similarity between a mark or trade name and a famous mark that harms the reputation of the famous mark. For famous marks, tarnishment or blurring may impair their distinctiveness because of association with other similar marks.

    Famous marks are well known, recognized and trusted by their consumers. However, owners challenging dilution need to establish their mark as a unique source of distinctiveness under the terms of the Federal Trademark Dilution Act. They may need to show the following: 1) geographical reach of advertising and publicity, 2) volume of sales, 3) extent of actual recognition of the mark, and 4) whether the mark is registered.

    In the case of famous marks, dilution is based on use by another person of the mark with the potential for confusion. Any use by another person can cause the likelihood of confusion. The use of the name will assume affiliation with the owner of the mark regardless of the goods or services of the infringing use. The goods or services may be related or unrelated for a dilution claim to stand.

    Examples of recent dilution cases include, Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A, owner of the tagline “Eat Mor Chikin,” has sent a cease and desist letter to stop t-shirt artist Bo Muller-Moore for his use of “Eat More Kale” because of the likelihood of confusion. Though Muller-Moore believes odds are not in his favor in the battle against the multi-billion dollar company Chick-fil-A, Muller-Moore is determined to fight until the end. He is currently working with filmmaker James Lantz on a documentary called “A Defiant Dude,” a documentary about a t-shirt artist who defies Chick-fil-A.

    Eat-More Candy BarChick-fil-A “Eat Mor Chikin” has battled at least 12 additional trademark applicants for their use of “Eat More…” In 2003, the tagline “Eat More Fish” was terminated after a TTAB proceeding with Chick-fil-A. In 2008, Chocolate Bar, LLC, owner of the tagline Eat More Chocolate, was forced to abandon their trademark after Chick-fil-A opposed the use. Pictured at left is the Eat-More Candy Bar, which originated in Canada as a Lowney product and was acquired by Hershey Canada from Nabisco Ltd. More trademarks that have either been abandoned or cancelled are, Eat More Goat, Eat Mor Greens and Eat More Beer. Chick-fil-A is very protective over their tagline and trademark. Regardless of opinion on these cases, brand owners can learn a thing or two about protecting and policing their brands.

    Earlier this year, it was reported that all four trademark applications were rejected for Crackberry by a judge. It was ruled that the trademarks would dilute Research in Motion Ltd.’s “Blackberry” trademark.

    The South ButtThe South Butt clothing line was intended to poke fun at the brand The North Face. The battle was settled outside of court for an undisclosed amount. This case is an example of tarnishment.

    Dilution has the ability to weaken famous marks that have worked hard establishing themselves as well-known brands to their consumers. Owners of famous marks have spent millions of dollars to uphold their reputation in a consumer-based market. Dilution is a problem because it can take away the consumer trust and owner’s protection of a brand. For example, if Coca-Cola is seen on goods and services such as clothing lines, lawn mowers, financial services, and cosmetic surgery facilities across the world, it would depreciate the Coca-Cola brand. This is deemed to be one of the major issues in trademark law because dilution can put the mark’s reputation for quality and distinctiveness at risk through tarnishment.

    Here are some dilution metaphors to help make a deeper connection:

    • A rodent metaphor: "the very nature of dilution, insidiously gnawing away at the value of a mark." Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey v. Celozzi-Ettelson, 855 F.2d 480 (7th Cir. 1988).

    • A musical metaphor: "It is the same kind of dissonance that would be produced by selling cat food under the name 'Romanoff' or baby carriages under the name 'Aston Martin'." Exxon Corp. v. Exxene Corp., 696 F.2d 544 (7th Cir. 1982).

    What are your examples of trademark dilution?

    Nicole Briggs is a Trademark Consultant for Interbrand’s NY Verbal Identity team.

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