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  • Posted by: Dominik Prinz on Tuesday, September 2 2014 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

    Busta Rhymes

    RockCorps is not your average not-for-profit organization. It is a leader when it comes to developing more experiential ways of engaging the masses to create positive change in the world.

    To be a bit more precise, RockCorps is a global youth movement. Its mission is to inspire the world’s youth to experience the power of volunteering. The reward RockCorps offers its volunteers is quite compelling. It produces pop, rock and hip-hop concerts and distributes the tickets exclusively to volunteers who have either conducted four hours of volunteer work through RockCorps or who have organized volunteer projects to benefit a local charity.

    Stephen Greene, RockCorps’ long-standing CEO, summarizes the belief that led seven friends to create the organization—and a belief that still holds true: “One person, one show, one city at a time. We are crazy enough to think we can change the world.”

    RockCorps’ first concert took place in New York in 2005. Since then, the organization has produced spectacular celebratory concerts around the world—all featuring major international artists. By leveraging the power of music, RockCorps has inspired youth to give over half a million hours of work to their respective communities. Over the past eight years, RockCorps has supported 2,400 partners in the non-profit sector.

    RockCorps fully understands the potential that lies in tapping into a brand’s sphere of influence and intentionally connects the for- and not-for-profit worlds. That’s why its concerts serve as platforms for selected brand partners. By connecting Millennials to both the sponsoring brand and a good cause, RockCorp not only meets its partners’ objectives, but also creates value and long-term social gain.

    Rock Corps Volunteers

    The RockCorps platform enables brand partners to develop a lasting, meaningful relationships with young consumers, the result of which is seen through significant shifts in brand perception, purchasing behavior and product differentiation. Basically, it’s a “win-win-win” situation: The volunteers win. The brand partners win. And the local charities win.

    Accordingly, the organization’s track record is quite impressive: Over 40 concerts have featured world-class artists such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Maroon 5 and P.Diddy. Roughly 160,000 volunteers have contributed approximately 600,000 hours of volunteering. And many more potential volunteers were reached through classic and social media.

    RockCorps is once again looking closely at the United States. “Since our last concert in the US in 2008, we have been on a world tour: UK, France, Israel, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, South Africa, Australia and now Japan,” noted Greene. “RockCorps, however, is an American-founded company and we are preparing to come home.” He continued by acknowledging that RockCorps has come a long way since it was first founded. “We have learned a tremendous amount since our last U.S. concerts--how the music industry, youth, artists, communities and brands not only can help each other to meet their own objectives, but can also change the world in the meantime. We are seeking brand partners who share the same vision!’

    Rock Corps Volunteers

    The RockCorps story is undoubtedly a compelling one—one that is told by the for-profit and not-for-profit sector together—as it should be. Because when big brands team up on big cause-related missions, the positive impact is felt far and wide—and leaves the world a better place.

    To find out how you can either become a volunteer or a brand sponsor and support the RockCorps mission, please visit their website.

    Dominik Prinz is a Strategy Director in Interbrand’s New York office. You can follow him on Twitter @DomPrinz.

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  • Posted by: Darcy Newell and Jennifer Vano on Thursday, February 27 2014 05:20 PM | Comments (0)

    Last year, we wrote a series of blogs about award show hosts, evaluating how their personal brands interplay with the brand of the ceremonies themselves. We took a look at Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as the hosts of the Golden Globes and dark horse Seth MacFarlane, the raunchy mastermind behind Ted and Family Guy who hosted last year’s Academy Awards.

    This year, the Golden Globes invited Poehler and Fey back to the stage, and the duo again delivered—playing up the relaxed, irreverent and self-depreciating attitude that their brands, and the show, have in common. One of our favorite lines of the night, in reference to their second time hosting, captures that spirit: “Because this is Hollywood, where if something kind of works, they'll just keep doing it till everyone hates it!" But while MacFarlane had some funny moments during his Oscar-hosting stint, most agreed that his rough-around-the-edges brand wasn’t a great match for the sophisticated Oscars.

    So how was the Academy to respond? After all, this wasn’t the first time they had chosen a host misaligned with their well-established brand in an attempt to appeal to a younger demographic (ahem, Franco and Hathaway in 2011).

    This year, the Academy has taken a turn, inviting comedian and television darling Ellen DeGeneres to host the show for the second time (she hosted in 2007). In fact, in 2007, DeGeneres was the first openly gay person to host the show, signaling a critical moment for the entertainment business and for the Academy Awards themselves. She addressed this status, staying true to her personal brand—always immensely kind, unapologetically real, and a little bit silly—saying: “What a wonderful night, such diversity in the room… and I want to put this out there: if there weren’t blacks, Jews and gays, there would be no Oscars—or anyone named Oscar, when you think about it.” She received widely positive reviews, and was even nominated for an Emmy for the performance.

    So sure, she’s a smart choice. But will she embody the sophistication the Academy Awards is known for, or the star power that draws in that pesky Millennial demographic? After all, she’s not a twenty-something actress or the star of the biggest movie of the year, nor is she likely to don 20 couture gowns during the show.

    But since 2007, DeGeneres’ popularity and presence has only increased. Her daytime talk show continues to get heaps of accolades, and she’s expanded her personal brand with new projects, like launching the infectiously fun app, “Heads Up,” appearing in a commercial for Beats Audio, and starting her own record label, eleveneleven, which focuses on finding artists on YouTube.

    And DeGeneres, as a brand and as a person, stands for a lot of things that a lot of Millenials believe in. Gay marriage, human rights, animal rights and letting loose, like dancing at the drop of a hat and wearing sneakers with a suit. If DeGeneres had an overarching message, it might be the line she closes every episode of her talk show with: “Be kind to each other.” And like the best brands, she brings this idea to life thoughtfully, consistently and dynamically no matter where she is or whom she’s talking to.

    What’s more, DeGeneres has always adopted an up-close-personal approach to her stardom, way before the era of Instagram put all celebrities’ personal lives at our fingertips. Case in point: some of her biggest laughs in the 2007 Oscar broadcast came from hilarious interactions with celebrities, like having Steven Spielberg take a photo of she and Clint Eastwood, and then giving him feedback on how to get the perfect shot.

    So maybe she doesn’t stand for sophistication, but that might be okay, because it signals that the Academy is up on the trend, shifting from putting celebrities on pedestals to presenting them as peers. Instead of choosing a star having a “moment” for Millenials, they chose a host whose personal brand is fundamentally appealing, and who has always been on the same level as her viewers. Because as much as this generation might be intrigued by spotlight and scandal, we’d argue that they’re driven by something a bit closer to their ideals, values and ultimately, their hearts.

    Darcy Newell and Jennifer Vano are Senior Consultants, Verbal Identity, at Interbrand.

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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: Alex Foss on Monday, January 27 2014 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

    How many blog posts, articles and listicles have you read recently promising to crack the code of Millennials? Most are from the outside-in, with authors observing the rise of a new kind of consumer. Today we're kicking off a blog series celebrating Interbrand's talented Millennials, spotlighting these industry professionals' perspective on branding through the lens of Gen Y.

    Digital Native

    We’ve been interested for a long time in technology’s ability to disrupt categories and industries. More interesting still is to think about how the cumulative effects of those disruptions can fundamentally alter the human experience. Prior to the telegraph, communication could only occur at the speed at which one could travel. It feels like in the past 25 years we’ve seen innovations of that magnitude over and over again. 

    As Millennials, we’ve been saturated with this innovation our entire lives. We have never really known a time when we couldn’t get the information we needed without a quick internet search, or when overseas friends weren’t an email, IM or video call away. Getting a first smartphone wasn’t a profound experience - it naturally extended what we were doing online already. 

    Technology has made instant gratification part of Millennials’ everyday existence. Consequently, Millennials expect that brands weave technology just as seamlessly into their own experiences. 

    It’s especially exciting to see brands that have embraced this idea with both empathy and foresight. Lyft is a personal favorite. With a few smartphone taps, users know how many Lyft drivers are in the area, how long it will take for them to arrive, and riders are sure to have great conversations en route to destinations (all of which fix the broken experience of taxis). 

    Intriguing things are happening in retail and payments as well. Apple’s iBeacon will allow customers to find what they are looking for in retail environments faster. Similarly, PayPal’s Beacon device will allow people to pay for things in stores without touching their wallets. 

    These are not just cool - they will reduce how long we spend traveling, finding items, making decisions and paying. All that time adds up. 

    Many brands created in previous decades seem to misunderstand what that need for instant gratification says about how Millennials think, navigate marketplaces and make decisions. It’s not that we just want things faster - it’s that our experience is fundamentally different from previous generations and difficult to understand without having lived it oneself. 

    The omnipresence of technology and our fluency with it makes us assume that the brands, services and organizations in our lives are caught up with us. One only has to look at airlines, healthcare, public transportation, utilities and local government to see how much catching up there is to do. 

    What does this mean for brands that want to succeed among Millennials? 

    • Empathize with the fact that we have never known the feeling of not having immediate access to information. Delivering relevant information not just quickly, but transparently, is a table stake. 

    • Brands cannot treat digital experiences as separate from or subordinate to traditional media and physical experiences. In our minds they are tightly linked, and brands must present a relevant and authentic experience that is consistent across both. 

    • We are bombarded with stimuli and demands on our attention, and have little patience for unnecessarily complicated or cumbersome products or services. We will reward brands that make smart decisions on our behalf and help streamline our lives.

    Alex Foss is an Associate Consultant in Strategy at Interbrand San Francisco.

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  • Posted by: Interbrand on Thursday, January 16 2014 03:08 PM | Comments (0)
    Sustainability and Technology

    This has been a big week of innovation and exploration. Some of the biggest global brands gathered in Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2014) and are now in Detroit for the annual auto show (The North American International Auto Show). 

    At CES, brands talked product development and unveiled gadgets that demonstrate a maturing of technology introduced last year. They further explored the possibilities for the connected ecosystem, bringing together everything from our ovens to our watches to make our lives easier. 

    One thing brands didn't talk up much, as Interbrand's Lucas Piazza noted in his recent blog post, It's Time for World-Changing Tech Brands to Talk Corporate Citizenship, was the connection between their innovations and what they mean for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. The latest issue of Interbrand's Closing the Gap: The Value of Corporate Citizenship looks at this conversation and the big picture of what's happening now in branding and Corporate Citizenship news.

    With research indicating 88 percent of Generation Y, aka Millennials, state they make employment choices based on a company's CSR values and 86 percent say they would consider leaving a company if its Corporate Citizenship values no longer met expectations, it's clear that to attract new talent businesses must have strong voices when it comes to their values and initiatives. Recent studies also find 42 percent of consumers base their feelings about a company on its Corporate Citizenship. The impact of CSR on brand perception is clear.

    The ROI of investing in world-changing initiatives for brands is clear in many of the stories curated in this issue from how one hospital is saving money thanks to its investment in sustainability to how companies are reducing financial risks when their actions clearly have a positive impact on society. We truly believe that brands have the power to change the world. Share your take on the value of Corporate Citizenship and its role in branding with us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

    To subscribe to Closing the Gap and to learn more about Corporate Citizenship at Interbrand, please contact Tom Zara, Global Practice Leader of Corporate Citizenship.

    To see more about past issues, please visit:

    Interbrand Launches "Closing the Gap"

    Closing the Gap: From a Skill Sharing Economy to Sustainability Marketing

    Closing the Gap: The Value of Corporate Citizenship

    • Closing the Gap: Fom Building a Brighter Future to Inspiring Participation

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