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  • Posted by: Interbrand on Monday, March 31 2014 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

    Crowdsourcing names sounds appealing: companies can get responses very quickly and cheaply. “Namesourcing” has become so popular it has sprouted a bevy of businesses dedicated to the practice. Beneath the appeal of namesourcing’s quick, cheap turnaround (with a dash of consumer engagement) lies its biggest limitation for brands—the wisdom of the crowd doesn’t extend to deep category and business expertise.

    There’s no lack of success stories around crowdsourced innovation and technology. When AB-InBev wanted to develop a brand more attuned to craft beer tastes, it turned to the crowd. The result? Black Crown. And brands like Lego, General Mills and MWV have devoted entire platforms to crowdsourcing initiatives. But crowdsourcing for names can be tricky—or even foolhardy. Imagine if you let the internet name your firstborn. The results might be disappointing, to say the least.

    Crowds are, by definition, loose and disparate. When a brand puts the crowd at the controls for naming, it won’t necessarily get back names that reflect the brand’s positioning or tone of voice. For the crowd, quality and consistency are not always priorities. Aussie web designer Dean Robbins was actually kidding when he suggested iSnack 2.0 as a new moniker for Kraft’s Vegemite—yet the name he coined won. And when Mountain Dew asked consumers to “Dub the Dew” for its apple-flavored offering in 2012, hackers eagerly nominated names like Diabeetus and Gushing Granny.

    Crowdsourcing has the most value as an engagement tool that invites customers to start conversations, share ideas, and feel like they’re being listened to and appreciated. To do that right, a thoughtful plan should trump result. Crowdsourced names might make a temporary splash on social media; some might even end up on a real shelf—but the truth is, companies rarely view or treat crowdsourced names as long-term investments. The stories and campaigns that sit behind them—the stories brands can tell about inviting participation—is where the heart beats.

    Try to think of a crowdsourced name that isn’t on your radar because it was attached to an #epicfail. iSnack 2.0 is the granddaddy of them all, but it’s five years old. And the Gushing Granny disaster is 21 in dog years. But chances are, you’ve engaged with at least one campaign on your Facebook wall or Twitter feed in recent memory. There’s Lay’s Do Us a Flavor, Dunkin’ Donuts Next Donut, Sam Adams’ LongShot American Homebrew, and Mountain Dew’s DEWmocracy. What do these have in common (and why have some of them even thrived as global annual campaigns)? They’re inviting you to engage.

    So, go ahead—name a chip Benedict Cumberbatch, and crack a smile the next time you see a Lay’s bag at the deli.

    Paula Pou is Associate Director, Verbal Identity, Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Jessica McHie on Friday, December 7 2012 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

    James Groccia

    Talk about “building” brand loyalty (pun intended). Toy master LEGO has been entertaining boys and girls around the world for decades, but this particular story can’t help but warm your heart.

    An 11-year-old boy from Massachusetts, diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, had saved his money for two years to buy a particular LEGO set. When James Groccia had finally gathered enough money, LEGO had discontinued the Emerald Night Train set he wanted.

    James is an avid LEGO loyalist. He attends a LEGO playgroup to help improve his social skills and builds daily LEGO creations on his own. A devastated James sent a letter to the company explaining his situation in hopes LEGO would have a spare set they could send him.

    Just in time for the holiday season, we witness that some companies still remember who their consumers are and how to connect with them. James’ parents set up a hidden camera to capture his sheer joy as he opened a mysterious box that arrived at their house. LEGO sent James the train set, along with a letter from a customer service employee that we see James passionately read in the video.

    This set probably cost LEGO a few hundred dollars, if that. But the amount of goodwill LEGO is building through the sharing of this story is priceless. It demonstrates the company takes care in pleasing each customer and continues to honor LEGO’s original core values and principles.

    The letter from LEGO concludes, “Fans like you are why we are so lucky as a company”. Right they are, and you can bet this family will be loyal LEGO fans and brand advocates for as long as the company exists. If they keep pleasing loyalists like this, LEGO should be around for a very long time.

    Happy holidays from all of us at Interbrand.

    Jessica McHie is a Senior Associate, Global Communications for Interbrand.

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  • Posted by: Vincent Hövels on Wednesday, April 18 2012 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

    LEGO creates dynamic dialog with consumers.
    When we go back forty years ago, it must have been an easy time for brand managers. Consumers were only interacting with brands on a few touch points. The reach of a limited amount of media channels, such as television, was enormous. Three national commercials of 30 sec. could reach about 80% of all middle-aged consumers. Furthermore brand managers were able to just shout and spread their message in a one-way direction and customers were consuming it passively.

    But times have changed and the world has become a lot more complicated. Consumers are no longer only influenced by a 30 sec. TV commercial. Media is splintered into a plethora of different channels, and so are consumers. Brand managers have to find new ways to engage consumers and bring our message across. Consumers want to engage, shape and be part of their favourite brand. But to constantly attract and involve customers, brand should play a different role and become more active. They have to facilitate those dialogues with relevant content.

    Content marketing is a hot topic and a lot of brands are wrestling with ways to create content around their products that is relevant for their audience, but in the end must also lead to conversion. Many brands have traditionally been structured to create overwhelmingly creative, one-way, advertising campaigns. However, brands nowadays have to shift their current mind-set from creating original campaigns to creating evoking content. They have to move from one-way messaging to dynamic dialogues, from advertiser to discussion leader.

    A tremendous example of a brand that is creating relevant content and facilitating a dynamic dialogue with their consumers is LEGO. As the patent for their bricks ran out in 2005, more and more imitators came to market. LEGO had to find new ways to create conversations with their audience to keep up their competitive advantage. One of the initiatives they launched was the LEGO Club Magazine. The magazine, which is customized for specific markets and age, offers new ideas for building structures, interactive cartoon stories on how to play with the yellow little men, and reference to their products in store. The ‘high quality’ interactive magazine is still in line with the brand’s earliest motto ‘Only the best is good enough.’ LEGO is providing branded content that is targeted in a relevant, authentic and differentiating way to their consumers.

    To create strong branded content, such as LEGO, a brand should start by creating a strong proposition, a solid base that resonates in the whole organization and whereupon the consumer touchpoints with the brand are built. Consequently, the brand proposition will function as a compass in creating relevant, authentic and differentiating branded content that will stimulate the dialogue between brands and consumers. Additionally, it will help brands to actually shift from advertiser to discussion leader.

    Vincent Hövels is an analyst in Interbrand’s Amsterdam office.

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  • Posted by: Robert Pyrah on Tuesday, July 19 2011 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

    It’s a truism that the best brands move with the times, evolving to suit changing tastes and technologies all over the world. It’s why some great names past falter while others thrive: consider Nokia, once dominant, versus Apple and others. The latter have not just made their technology relevant, but evolved a whole brand offering that shapes our desires proactively.
    So when it comes to creative play, think of how far things have come since the analogue days of Meccano and board games. Wii, Xbox, and others have taken things up a gaming notch, incorporating the latest computing and interactive technologies. Those of us who remember the screechy cassettes it took to load a fairly basic and bug-ridden arcade game might even have preferred the tangibility of analogue. With some exceptions (including computer-shy families), it would be hard to imagine most kids reaching for more low-fi alternatives today.
    This is why LEGO’s continued grip on the imagination of kids is as impressive as it is salutary. Of course, brick-and-model-based toys still carve a different niche in the market, as well as in a young person’s mind and imagination, from screen-based play. But to keep their offering relevant, LEGO has stretched its brand well beyond its core strength: a superb, unique, and addictive product.
    In short, LEGO has moved with the times in quite dizzying fashion, especially for any adult who remembers the much more basic parallel world it embraced 20 years ago. You could go far with an imagination or instruction manuals alike, but these were still generic springboards for the imagination: a cityscape, space exploration… not into pre-defined, branded imaginary worlds.

    That’s quite a far cry from where you can end up today – inside Hogwarts, flying on a broomstick or casting spells with a LEGO Harry Potter; battling a LEGO Darth Vader on an ingenious brick-based Death Star… or else in a mixture of on- and offline environments, playing LEGO races on screen and on your carpet, or inhabiting the much bolder LEGO Universe gamescape.
    This is a brand that’s gone full-blown experiential, embracing the gamut of its tangible assets and turning them all shades of digital and analogue. It arguably began with its real-world theme parks, including those in Windsor (U.K.) and Denmark, via cobranded tie-ups (e.g. with Pixar, to create a Toy Story series), to hands-on store experiences with 3D product displays, and digital renderings you can generate by holding boxes up to special sensors.
    It helps, of course, that LEGO’s specialty has always been in generating parallel, imaginative worlds. Doing so in a branded way that speaks to a generation weaned as much on virtual as real gaming, this is an old-school brand that seems to be in pretty good brand health.

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