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  • Posted by: Felipe Valerio and Macaila Laubscher on Tuesday, August 26 2014 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

    IB Academy Zurich

    Eleven hours and 35 minutes. That’s how long my flight took to get from São Paulo to Zurich. I could’ve watched the entire The Godfather trilogy, or 7 football matches, or possibly gotten a good way through James Joyce’s 800-page Ulysses. But I didn't do any of that. Instead, I spent most of my flight imagining the experience I was about to have at the Interbrand Academy 1.0, in Zurich. Before you ask if the Academy is some kind of in-company training, I must say that it goes way beyond that. In reality, it’s a great way to do what we do best with the best people we have.

    More specifically, the Academy is a unique opportunity to work on real branding challenges alongside key Interbrand executives—from managing directors and strategy heads to CEOs. Every year it takes place in a different location among our offices worldwide, and brings together 18 lucky Interbranders from different regions. It’s not only a chance to meet strategists, designers, and writers from around the global network, but also a chance to work with them in an intense, high-energy environment. And, yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.

    At the Academy 1.0, I met inspiring people from Madrid, Milan, Shanghai, New York, Tokyo, and London, to name a few. One of them was Macaila Laubscher, a designer from Interbrand London, whose talent for connecting ideas and telling stories made an impression. As a verbal identity manager from São Paulo, I appreciated her knack for concepting and creative insight.

    Academy Zurich

    After our Academy experience, Macaila and I discussed what we learned in Zurich. Here is a snippet of our conversation about the workshop:

    FELIPE: Hello again, Macaila. What was it like to attend Workshop 1.0?

    MACAILA: Hi, Felipe. The workshop was an intense and brilliantly informative three-day course, which was a great privilege to attend. Meeting colleagues from every corner of our vast network of offices, opened my eyes to how big Interbrand is and how many amazing opportunities it offers to grow personally and professionally. Within minutes, even though most of us didn’t know each other, we dove in to tackle strategic challenges hands on and absorbed as much theoretical knowledge as possible. And with a schedule that was extremely efficient, speakers that were highly engaging, and content that was truly mind-expanding—not a moment was wasted.

    MACAILA: What about you Felipe, did the workshop live up to (or exceed) your expectations?

    FELIPE: At first, I was just hoping to understand how strategic thinking could help our office enhance the quality of verbal deliverables and strengthen their impact. However, about 20 minutes into the workshop, I realized that it was going to cover a lot more than I expected. In fact, the workshop was so comprehensive that it brought a new challenge I wasn’t anticipating: how to apply all of these learnings. Fortunately, the classes were more practical than theoretical. We explored real case studies and ongoing projects, which allowed the teams to experience, and more fully grasp, the synergy among our disciplines. My only regret? Telling all my international colleagues that Brazil was about to win the World Cup!

    MACAILA: As you know, we uncover some amazing insights at Academy workshops. What did you learn that was new to you?

    FELIPE: My first and most important discovery was about the importance of having clear strategic thinking behind everything we create. After getting more familiar with all of our methodologies, I was able to better appreciate how transformative brands can be. Second, I learned a lot about building relationships with clients and new ways to deliver winning pitches to our prospects. Finally, I understood how to apply these tactics and principles in different areas and situations.

    MACAILA: Good point. Having had a basic knowledge through my experience working for Interbrand for the past three years, I knew the strategy models at a top level and could work my way through it. However, now I have a deeper understanding that can really influence the quality of work I do and the confidence with which I approach brands.

    FELIPE: That said, what was your favorite part about the experience?

    MACAILA: The “syndicate project,” which framed the three-day course, challenged us to work in smaller groups and present our solutions back to a panel of highly esteemed Interbrand judges. We were fortunate enough to have a live client brief out of the Milan office. In retrospect, it is likely that the high pressure to deliver great quality work, in a short time frame—with people you’ve never worked with, who are all the best of the bunch and have their own great ideas—probably pushed me further than most one-month projects.

    FELIPE: I totally agree with you, Macaila. And that was only possible in such a stimulating multicultural environment. We had 18 people from different countries working towards one common goal: To gain a fuller understanding of the approaches, both creative and strategic, that make Interbrand the world’s most inspiring and valuable branding consultancy. The results were impressive. I think all of us came away with deeper insights and greater confidence in our ability to deliver world-class work. On a more personal note, I truly enjoyed our encounters outside of class as well (fondue + wine + beer). Socially, it was definitely a lot of fun—and offered great opportunities for us to hear about experiences from other offices.

    MACAILA: Yes, it was a great time. By the way, were you able to activate what you learned in your local office?

    FELIPE: Well, for one thing, I brought a new mantra back to Brazil: If you want to connect with brands you should first connect with people. The Academy was not only inspirational, but also emphasized the importance of connecting different areas of expertise in order to do the best possible work. Identity teams must be extremely strategic and strategy teams must be creative. Clients in Brazil, for example, are increasingly expecting our deliverables to be not only strategically impeccable, but also truly inspiring.

    MACAILA: I agree. Communication across all disciplines and activities is key to the success of both individual projects and the business as a whole. Designers, for instance, should be more integrated into the strategic process from the beginning, rather than solely bringing projects to life at the end. Their ideas can be integral to shaping strong propositions. In Zurich, we had a chance to step back and look at what really works, test out new approaches, and implement tools that can help us create truly world-changing work.

    IB Academy Zurich

    For more insight into Interbrand’s unique educational workshops, check out The Interbrand Academy: Cultivating Excellence.

    Felipe Valerio is a Verbal Identity Manager at Interbrand São Paulo and Macaila Laubscher is a designer at Interbrand London.

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  • Posted by: Interband on Thursday, June 5 2014 07:56 PM | Comments (0)
    What Marketers Can Learn From Best Swiss Brands 2014 Best Swiss Brands

    Best Swiss Brands

    Best Swiss Brands

    In 2014, Interbrand recognized the Best Swiss Brands for the 3rd time. In honor of the occasion, Interbrand hosted an event in its Zurich office on May 13th. Both clients and leaders representing the Best Swiss Brands joined Interbrand to celebrate. 

    For the first time, B2B brands were included in the ranking, indicating the growing importance of this sector. ABB, Swiss Re, Sulzer, and Syngenta are impressively demonstrating the role of consistent and mindful brand management and its rising influence on the company's performance. 

    With outstanding overall performance, the unrivalled Nescafé occupies the top spot in the ranking, but the Swiss luxury industry and the pharmaceutical industry, represented by powerhouse brands like Novartis and Roche, are also very strong.  

    A close examination of the ranking, and the leading Swiss brands it highlights, suggests factors that are indispensable for successful brand management. It reveals that the most successful brands understand the importance of brand management. These brands know when to evolve, when to reinvent themselves, and the importance of aligning their brand strategy with their business strategy. 

    When looking at the leading Swiss brands and assessing their strengths, some common themes and lessons emerge: 

    Evolution of brand management 

    The impact of the brand on a company's performance is becoming increasingly evident. Organizations that realize this are integrating the brand into the overall business strategy, with the brand strategy serving as the interpretation of the business strategy. However, when brands are viewed as the valuable assets they are and positioned to lead a business forward, it is essential to have a great vision for them. To fulfill the promise of that vision, it is often necessary to make changes and drive innovation. To bring that vision to life, to touch audiences emotionally and to create a truly outstanding brand experience also means placing a strong emphasis on design and clear, authentic communication.

    Brand experience across all touchpoints 

    Brands cannot be successful if people are not aware of them and impacted by them. In order to reach target audiences and keep them engaged, the establishment of a compelling brand experience is necessary. Not just relying on the brand’s classic offline brand appearance, the experience also includes the digital experience and, even more important, a cross-channel approach. By enhancing the customer journey through design, communication, and service at every step, companies can create a seamless brand experience that will anchor positive emotions in the customer’s mind. 

    The importance of employer branding 

    A clear and powerful brand position is not only key to attracting and sustaining the interest of customers, but also plays a significant role in attracting and retaining highly skilled professionals. Brands inspire and strengthen commitment internally and motivate existing employees to become brand ambassadors. Projecting this authenticity, appeal, and credibility—internally and externally—is something successful brands seek to do effectively. 

    Brand value determines brand activities 

    A corporate brand is sometimes thought of as a cost center, but organizations are better served by viewing it as a business asset. A company needs to understand its brand, gauge its effectiveness and potential, and manage the brand as it would any other asset. Brands have the innate potential to either strengthen or hinder a company, and it is up to the organization to determine which of these two possibilities becomes reality through the ways in which it leverages the brand. To leverage the brand effectively, Brand Performance Management must be established. Measuring and tracking a brand’s value helps companies decide which initiatives are necessary to build its brand power.  

    Brand communication means leading a conversation 

    In a digitally-connected world, where communication is taking place everywhere, at all times, it’s no longer enough to craft messaging and blast it out, hoping people will respond favorably. Today, there are many brands competing for attention and mindshare and static communication will not engage, build relationships with customers, or break through cultural noise. Today, brands must participate, interact, respond, and express passion for their corporate culture and offerings in an authentic way. Creating a platform to receive and discuss customer feedback, expectations, ideas, and requests gives brands the opportunity to learn about changing customer needs, meet those needs better, and ensure a positive impact.   

    The future of brand management 

    The Best Swiss Brands report illustrates how brand management is practiced today. To recap: 

    • Brand Management 3.0 is more about facilitating than controlling brand communications. It means shifting from “Brand Cop” to the “Brand DJ.” 
    • To achieve maximum impact, experiences must be thoughtfully designed, powerful and consistent across touchpoints, resulting in a memorable brand experience. 
    • Employer Branding is a key investment for any company’s future. Strengthening one’s reputation and image as an employer is an effective way to attract the best people, while a strong internal brand is crucial to retain talent. The talent a company attracts—and keeps— can boost future earnings. 
    • Measuring and tracking a brand’s value helps companies decide which initiatives are necessary to build its brand power. 
    • A vivid dialogue means benefits for all stakeholders, but marketers must bear in mind that fruitful brand conversations happen when brands are positive, passionate, open and responsive. 

    For the full ranking, detailed information, and interviews with marketing leaders visit www.bestswissbrands2014.ch

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