• Posted by: Bethany Kelsall on Monday, July 21 2014 06:05 PM | Comments (0)

    London Bridge

    After receiving the very exciting news that I had won a D&AD Best of Year Award, I received an equally exciting invitation to apply to a competition that Interbrand was running for D&AD winners. With a chance to win either a 1-month internship in the London office, or a 3-month internship with 2 months in London and 1 month in another European office, it sounded like an incredible opportunity to see more of the world and grow professionally.  

    Needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled when I learned I had won the competition and got the 3-month internship! I couldn’t wait to go to London and get acquainted with the creative and strategic minds at Interbrand.   

    Interbrand London office

    Interbrand's London office (Each of the meeting rooms are named after the street locations of different Interbrand offices).

    I started in London at the beginning of May—welcomed by “the queen” out on the terrace, no less! Now I am in my last week at the London office, and I can’t believe how the time has flown. Having an interest in branding and a desire to work in the industry, my experience at Interbrand has given me a taste of what it’s really like to work in this creative business.   

    The Queen

    "The Queen" on Interbrand London's terrace.

    My time here has been so memorable and I have learned so much. Even the building that houses the Interbrand office is rich with history—it was once a hotel where the people who would be boarding the Titanic stayed the night before their fateful voyage. London is a place steeped in history, which is fascinating—but what really made my experience here brilliant was my work with the design team and the amazing people I’ve met at Interband.   

    The design team embraced me as one of their own and got me directly involved in live projects as well as internal work for the company. In my first week, I took some photographs of the latest InEdit publication that the London office produces. You can see InEdit online here.  

    InEdit The Retail Issue    

    There is one project in particular that I have really been able to sink my teeth into and I have loved every minute! It involves the rebranding of a bank in Asia. I have been carrying out audits, researching the current brand identity, and working with other creatives and a strategy team on the rebrand.   

    Most recently, I have been exploring different territories for the brand and have designed initial design concepts for each territory, visually exploring the different directions the brand could take. I have been so pleased to have to chance to work on this project and I know the end result will be a great success. Having the opportunity to see a project from the very beginning stages through to the design process and being part of the team (attending meetings and being present for discussions with clients) have all been part of my real-world education.   

    Another educational perk at Interbrand are the incredible guest speakers. During my time in London, I’ve been fortunate to attend two talks and both were very inspiring and interesting. It was great to get the chance to listen to designer Jason Bruges, who creates bespoke interactive installations for a diverse range of clients, and Decoded, proponents of “digital enlightenment” strategy. Both talks opened up my understanding of the digital world and its creative possibilities.

    Interbrand London—what an experience it has been! But my internship adventure is not over yet. Next stop? Madrid!  

    I am extremely excited about the next chapter of this unfolding journey and can’t wait to experience more in yet another country. In London, I have loved it all—and I’m sure I will love Madrid just as much!  

    Bethany Kelsall is an intern with Interbrand in London and Madrid. You can follow her on Twitter @beth_kelsall.

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  • Posted by: John Breen on Wednesday, July 16 2014 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

    FDA word cloud

    The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a long-awaited draft guidance document for the development and assessment of proprietary drug names for prescription and non-prescription products. Regulatory decisions can sometimes impact the pharmaceutical industry in unpredictable ways, so this guidance is a welcome addition. But will these guidelines drive the industry toward greater consistency and predictability in proprietary name reviews?   

    Here are four key takeaways from InterbrandHealth’s analysis of the draft:   

    1. The FDA is instituting a number of criteria that can be objectively measured 

    One of the key challenges in naming research is that it produces few black and white results; we’re often forced to manage many shades of grey. Within the draft guidance document, the FDA aims to present more tangible metrics—pre-screening criteria, checklists, specific categories for its POCA tool (Phonetic and Orthographic Computer Analysis)—that should, in theory, result in greater standardization in the approach to name testing and therefore greater predictability in outcomes. The FDA also has provided its latest thinking on a number of topics that have created anxiety for our industry in the past, including brand modifiers and “dual proprietary names.” While some of these topics will still be assessed on a case-by-case basis, the draft guidance offers hope of greater consistency.   

    2. POCA plays a starring role in the guidance 

    When first released, the FDA’s POCA algorithm was viewed as one of many inputs to a name safety assessment. With the new draft guidance, the FDA is placing greater emphasis on the results of a POCA search than we have experienced to date. Now, the FDA has officially grouped POCA scores into three categories and is using these categories as the basis for a final safety evaluation. This is a bit of a departure for the FDA that certainly warrants monitoring.    

    The draft guidance document places greater emphasis on name similarity versus other contributing factors to medication errors than ever before. Many of the industry’s more practical arguments for why a proprietary name candidate will not be confused with an existing marketed drug in the real world—including differences in how products are actually prescribed, dispensed and administered—may no longer be persuasive. This is particularly true of names that score higher than 70 on POCA with an existing drug name. Despite differences in product characteristics, the FDA states that these highly similar names are at risk for confusion. At InterbrandHealth, we have found POCA to be a useful tool in prioritizing potential safety conflict. However, our experience also suggests that the results can range from inconsistent to confounding. So, it will be very interesting to see if POCA can, in fact, serve as a successful filtering tool.   

    3. The FDA is looking for more rigorous prescription simulation studies 

    The best practices summarized in the draft guidance for prescription simulation studies are similar to the FDA’s 2008 PDUFA Pilot Concept Paper. The FDA is requesting that at least 20 scenarios be included in a prescription simulation study, including marketed products. While this is feasible in a market research study, it will increase survey complexity. Applicants may need to rethink existing approaches and be prepared to invest more time and money to complete this “recommended” market research. 

    As noted earlier, over-the-counter (OTC) products fall under the draft guidance document, which implies that these sponsors may need to conduct more in-depth testing, including more prescription simulations.   

    4. There is no mention of Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) 

    Our final observation addresses not only what’s in the draft but also what’s missing. In the 2008 PDUFA Pilot Concept Paper, the FDA alluded to the importance of FMEA in a sponsor’s name safety assessment. In a significant departure from this earlier stance, FMEA is now completely omitted from the draft guidance document. While sponsors are not being asked to complete this analysis, we are curious to see whether the FDA will continue to conduct FMEA as part of its safety review for proprietary name candidates. Currently, it appears that the FDA is asking the industry to generate initial hypotheses for a review through its requested methods and then this data will be fed into the internal evaluation. InterbrandHealth envisions this could limit the voice of a sponsor in its attempt to present a rationale for proprietary name selection beyond the outcomes of the prescription simulation studies and POCA results.    

    In summary, the draft guidance offers greater clarity and the possibility of increased predictability, but it is too soon to know if the endpoints summarized in the document will “guarantee” an FDA approval of a proprietary name candidate. The removal of FMEA, while reducing subjectivity, is particularly surprising. However, it appears that through the launch of this guidance, the FDA is looking to the industry to help shape and standardize the process with a goal of creating greater certainty in outcomes, which is a positive step.   

    InterbrandHealth is currently submitting comments to the FDA regarding the draft guidance document, and we look forward to uncovering its implications as the guidance comes to life through our work.   

    John Breen is the Executive Director of Analytics for InterbrandHealth. Lillian Smith is an Analyst for InterbrandHealth.    

    For more information about the drug naming process or the FDA guidance document, connect with InterbrandHealth here.

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  • Posted by: Lindsay Beltzer on Tuesday, July 15 2014 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

    Orange Is the New Black cast

    When the critically acclaimed show (now Emmy-nominated) Orange Is the New Black premiered on Netflix last July, it broke new ground. More than proving that audiences are hungry for “binge worthy” content, it moved characters of diverse identities and cultural backgrounds from the periphery of television drama to center stage. 

    Beyond the show’s provocative storylines, the way Netflix has marketed the series has been equally compelling. Netflix has illustrated, once again, that the right marketing mix and choice of channels are only as powerful as the brand and stories behind them. 

    Netflix took traditional marketing by storm in New York City (where the story takes place) covering city buses, subway station platforms, and telephone posts with OITNB advertisements—even blanketing the entire front façade of a SoHo building with video advertisements. 

    In a more strategic—and cause-related—effort, Netflix partnered with member-shopping site Gilt.com and the non-profit organization, Dress for Success, to provide professional attire to disadvantaged women. Drawing inspiration from an OITNB episode when a rep from Dress for Success offers wardrobe advice to the inmates, the real-life partnership featured the OITNB cast posing in chic workwear, offered at Gilt’s discount designer prices. For every item it sold, an item was donated to Dress for Success. 

    Orange Is the New Black cast Dressed for Success

    Netflix and OITNB then partnered with the radio-streaming platform, Pandora. Instead of just streaming the show’s soundtrack, Netflix went a step further by curating individual character stations, giving listeners the chance to customize various character playlists. For example, Piper Chapman, the character at the center of OITNB, favors the avant-garde and gloomy sounds of artists such as Lana Del Rey, Billie Holiday, and Nada Surf. The result? An authentic and inspiring expression of a character sentenced to 15 months in a women’s federal prison, reflecting Piper’s distance from the privilege and comfort of her pre-prison Park Slope lifestyle. 

    While brands are continuing to crack the code on “native advertising,” Netflix & OITNB’s sponsored ad in The New York Times garnered plenty of positive attention. Integrating video and interactive charts, it leveraged the narrative and landscape of the show to open up a broader discussion about female incarceration in the U.S. According to Professor Mike McKean at Missouri School of Journalism, what set the piece apart from other native advertising campaigns is its quality. McKean says, “The likelihood of clicking away before you scroll down and read much content is a lot higher than the average piece of native content. This is not average.”   

    Orange Is the New Black NYT Netflix sponsored ad

    So, what can brands learn from the sum of Netflix’s efforts? 

    1. Strategic brand partnerships are a powerful way to extend the reach of your story.
    2. Smart use of platforms and channels hinge on the clarity and authenticity of a brand.
    3. Going against the grain can be a good thing. Strong brands aren’t afraid to take the lead, but always invite the consumer into the brand experience. 
    4. Content is still king: unearthing the core of your brand story and learning to tell it in ways that move and excite new audiences is vital to success. 

    From bringing characters of diverse walks of life into the mainstream, to placing bold bets on branded-content, OITNB has been a trailblazer in more ways than one. It has illuminated injustices and humanized the stereotyped as effectively as it’s won over countless viewers—and, for all its impact, it might just win an Emmy, too.       

    Lindsay Beltzer is a Senior Associate on Interbrand’s Global Marketing & Communications team. You can follow her on Twitter @LindsayBeltzer.

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  • Posted by: Pablo Romo on Tuesday, July 15 2014 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

    Best Mexican Brands 2014

    Telcel leads the ranking, followed by Corona, Telmex, Oxxo, and Bimbo

    Interbrand is excited to launch the Best Mexican Brands 2014 report. Led by Telecom giant, Telcel— followed by Corona, Telmex, Oxxo, and Bimbo—the ranking presents a cross-section of the most successful brands in all sectors, including retail, beverages, food, and financial services.

    The value of all 25 Mexican brands exceeds USD $32,000 million, which demonstrates the growing influence of these companies in their markets. Notably, the combined value of these top Mexican brands has grown almost 90 percent during the past 5 years.

    By comparison, the total value of the top 25 Mexican brands is equivalent to 80 percent of the value of Brazil’s top 25 brands (USD $40,000 million), 58 percent of the best Spanish brands (USD $55,000M), 51 percent of India’s leading brands (USD $63,000M), 46 percent of Canada’s (USD 70,000M), and 28 percent of Japan’s (USD $115,000M). While a gap in total value remains between Mexican brands and leading brands elsewhere,, the impressive growth of brands such as Bimbo, Corona, Cemex, and Mexichem has reduced this gap significantly.

    Key sector takeaways from the report:


    The telecom sector leads the ranking, representing 29 percent of the total value. Two brands from this sector appear in the ranking, with Telcel at #1 and Telmex at #3.

    Despite the success Telcel and Telmex currently enjoy, the next few years may prove to be challenging for brands in this sector given a) recent political reforms, b) the need for telecom companies to increase investment in infrastructure, c) technological advancements, and d) the need to become more client-focused.


    Speaking to the enduring success of Mexico’s alcohol brands, the beverages sector is the second best-represented one in the ranking, comprising 21 percent of the total value. Familiar brands that lead in this space include Corona (#2), Modelo Especial (#6), and El Jimador (#19).

    With Mexico being the largest beer exporter and the sixth largest producer in the world, the country’s beer subsector is, without a doubt, globally relevant and highly successful. Grupo Modelo (part of AB InBev) and Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma (part of Heineken Group) dominate the sector, with each holding owning 57 percent and 41 percent market share respectively.

    Tequila—best represented by the top-selling brand, El Jimador, in the ranking—is the quintessential Mexican alcoholic beverage. The tequila market has been growing steadily for the past 40 years, and the subsector boasts over 119 tequila producers and more than 2,000 brands. And its popularity is not just domestic— tequila is also seeing unprecedented growth in international markets.

    Financial Services

    The financial sector comprises 15 percent of the list, and includes brands such as Banorte (#7), Banamex (#8), Inbursa (#11), and Compartamos Banco (#14). It’s important to mention that the market leader, BBVA Bancomer, was not included in the ranking on account of methodology constraints. So far, it has not been possible to attribute a financial value to the Mexican part of the brand (i.e., Bancomer) since it was acquired by the Spanish multinational BBVA (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria).

    While confidence in financial institutions has waned in many parts of the world, in Mexico, confidence has increased considerably in the past five years.

    This is partly due to an increased emphasis on customer service, exemplified by institutions such as Compartamos Banco. While brands in many markets are working to get closer to their customers, in Mexico, consumers are increasingly showing a preference for financial institutions that 1) appear to share their values and 2) seem to be motivated to help clients improve their financial situation, rather than solely motivated by the prospect of financial gain.

    Other notable trends are the growth of niche banks (e.g., ones that are. focused on specific demographics, regional or local segments, etc.), and the growth of banks that demonstrate innovative approaches to customer service, project an approachable image, and emphasize friendly communication.

    The full ranking:

    Note: To qualify for the Best Mexican Brands ranking, brands must be of Mexican origin, must be on the stock market (so that Interbrand can access publically available financial information), and must show a positive operating profit after taxes and cost of capital.

    Pablo Romo is a Client Services Manager at Interbrand Mexico. 

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  • Posted by: Josh Feldmeth on Sunday, July 13 2014 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

    The life insurance business—insurance, annuities, retirement—is one of the most dynamic business sectors globally. A recent PwC CEO study reported that more CEOs of life insurance companies were pursuing new business models than companies in any other sector.   

    The study notes that an “effective use of technology is going to be a crucial factor to spur greater innovation and differentiation as business models evolve. Applying digital technology in the life insurance markets, for example, is leading towards more flexible assisted and self-directed models for buying policies.”    

    These companies are all trying to make the same shift: from a supply orientation to a demand or customer-based business model. The fastest growing businesses today are building value chains that start with the customer, innovate around unmet needs and deliver products and services through connected experiences and ecosystems that allow for a high level of engagement, personalization, and advocacy.   

    But this kind of growth requires change and this is a challenge for the life insurance/retirement industry where the prevailing belief is that the product is sold not bought.   

    Here are three key strategies for making the shift and achieving customer-led growth:   

    1.   Bring the customer into the conversation. This is an opportunity for life insurance companies to display their skills in supply-side economics—underwriting, product design, pricing, and distribution—while offering a level of transparency where the customer can engage and voice his or her unmet needs.  

    2.   Make the economic case for experience. Delivering connected customer experiences requires functional integration and capital expenditure (capex). We witnessed it in a recent case for a global services business; we calculated an incremental $300,000,000 lift in revenue simply from optimizing the customer experience. And that was for one segment in the US alone. 

    3.   Lastly, increase the market rhythm. By opening the gates to allow management to listen to the customer, you’re accelerating the rhythm of the marketplace. This, in turn, changes the speed at which customers make decisions about your product. Life insurance and annuities generally have a very slow rhythm, but, with this new flow, it changes the natural frequencies and sells opportunities.

    By simply bringing the customer into the business, making a case for the business valuation to free capex and encourage functional integration, and building experiences that will relate and increase the market rhythm, the life insurance business model can be shifted into a personal and life-long experience.

    For more information about achieving customer-led growth, please contact Josh Feldmeth, CEO, Interbrand New York at jfeldmeth@interbrand.com. Connect with him on Twitter: @JoshFeldmeth

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