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  • Posted by: Bill Chidley on Friday, October 18 2013 05:01 PM | Comments (0)
    Amazon Wine

    Availability drives consumption.

    Amazon, a top riser on Best Global Brands 2013, is now shipping wine to New York, Michigan, Arizona and Louisiana, upping its distribution to 20 states and the majority of Americans. This is good news for wine makers, but a cause for concern to wine retailers who may fear obsolescence.

    “Disintermediation” is the driver of ecommerce and what keeps traditional retailers up at night. Whole industries have changed as a result of taking steps out of the distribution model. How we acquire and enjoy books, music, movies, even travel, are forever different… and now wine appears to be joining the mix with the biggest e-retailer.

    Lowering the cost of goods to consumers is the obvious upside of disintermediation, but an often overlooked result is a change in consumption habits. Make something that is inherently appealing cheaper and easier to get and without fail more will be sold.

    The advance of Amazon's wine sales will have at least three profound collateral effects on how consumers engage with the wine category that will impact consumption habits:

    1. Reduced entry barriers for new consumers: Shopping for wine can be intimidating for shoppers and a barrier to entering the category. It is complex and difficult to navigate, with many varieties and price tiers. The Amazon experience offers the shopper the ability to educate themselves without pressure, use reviews for comparison, and filter search results to suit their priorities that will reduce the entry barriers for new consumers, and then keep them in the Amazon franchise.
    2. Frictionless purchasing for current consumers: The ability to easily repurchase favorites, put wines on a wish list to purchase in the future, immediately find a wine that was recommended or experienced at a restaurant, and then purchase with one-click, all will drive consumption. Furthermore, the ability to use Amazon’s “subscribe and save” option and push notifications for cool new wines to try, (or deals), will positively impact frequency of purchase.
    3. Contagious consumption for all consumers: Wine is a highly giftable and sharable category, and Amazon will be a great platform for both. Wine as a gift for friends and family in other zip codes gets little consideration, but Amazon introduces project-ability to wine, making it like flowers. Amazon will enable us to share our favorites not just in social media, but by actually physically sharing a bottle across the miles. This will not only increase purchase occasions, but also introduce more consumers to wine, or more varieties and premium tiers if they are already buying wine.

    These three collateral effects will drive consumption and grow the wine business while also changing how consumers experience the category when they shop. Like iTunes and music, wine is highly fragmented so shopping online will be a great equalizer for small brands “on the shelf,” but give disproportionate advantage to brands that have the ability to pay to be featured or promoted.

    Based on my recent Amazon Wine experience, it will also impact the design of packaging for wine if/when online becomes a top channel of distribution. The role of the bottle will be minimized and the label will be the single focus, and need to attract attention as a postage stamp in a sea of postage stamps.

    Regarding the brick and mortar wine shops, they will feel the impact of Amazon and other e-commerce players eventually, but they still have their place for convenience. They will see reduced traffic and smaller purchases as “stock-up” trips migrate to online sales. But there will always be a need for brick and mortar wine stores until someone figures out a way to download a great Malbec!

    Bill Chidley is SVP, Executive Consultant, Interbrand Design Forum.

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  • Posted by: Dominik von Jan on Thursday, July 25 2013 05:47 PM | Comments (0)
    Google Glass Presentation

    I had the pleasure of participating on a panel about The Three C’s of Mobile Success at VentureBeat’s recent Mobile Beat conference. Moderator Erik Loehfelm from Universal Mind, Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, Trulia’s Consumer Products VP Lee Clancy and I had a very interesting discussion around what makes mobile marketing activities work: Customers, Content and Context.

    Since a lot of the conference revolved around mobile innovation, wearables and the utility and marketing opportunities that go along with them – from medical condition monitoring intelligent skin adhesives to productivity enhancing, James Bond-like super watches – we took a short detour into the device world of tomorrow. Having done a lot of industry research in the field, Sarah Rotman Epps drew an inspiring picture of the new app opportunities that Google Glass open up, and what that means for utility-based marketing as opposed to advertising.

    Near field communications (NFC) will have a whole new playing field in the still fairly geek-y looking eyewear, beaming personalized offers, shopping cart reminders or product information into your field of vision when you pass a retail brand you interacted with in the past. Speak of relevant content and relevant context.

    The question of “are customers permitting such targeted and somewhat personal sphere-invading communications” didn’t take long to be raised. The consensus was that as long as personalized information and services provide a true value add and increase convenience, consumers are embracing them. Think Amazon’s “Customers who bought this item also bought” section that pulls product recommendations based on users’ browsing behavior as the least intrusive example, automatically saved travel preferences in mobile apps like Delta Airline’s Fly Delta, or the more aggressive retargeting of web users with banner ads from brands whose websites they visited in the past few days.

    Where things got especially interesting from a brand perspective was when we started to talk customer experience in these new customer touchpoints. There was a lot of conversation about brilliant new business models and feature innovations, for example the last-minute-hotel-rooms-at-a-great-price service Hotel Tonight, newcomer IDrive’s platform-agnostic online backup service or Trulia’s foray into the Google Glass app world with a service to find houses for sale - right where you are. And that is a good thing, because it pushes thinking and inspires the next great business innovation.

    Where the conversation was only starting to emerge, though, was in the brand expression through these innovations. Truly strong engagement and loyalty is created when people connect with a brand on an emotional level, when they get to know and appreciate the character of the brand in addition to its innovative utility. That is what makes a brand like MINI Cooper so strong and its customers so happy, or what makes ordering business cards from print service moo.com a surprisingly pleasant process.

    That is where the opportunity for long-term customer loyalty comes in: The innovative feature itself will be copied by the competition at some point, but the brand personality can’t be. That’s why I am convinced we will see and hear a lot more conversation in the future about how to innovate and build personality. A good sign of that was Dave Mathew’s (CEO & Founder of mobile connectivity platform NewAer) call out “We need more whimsy in mobile apps!”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Dominik von Jan is Senior Director, Digital at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Graham Hales on Thursday, October 18 2012 08:43 PM | Comments (0)
    Taxes

    In these difficult times, armed with their digital voice, we can quickly see the changes in public sentiment. Getting on the wrong side of the mood of the moment can prove expensive.

    Take something we all feel emotionally about: taxes.

    In the UK recent studies showed that public sentiment quickly turned against celebrities who have taken advise to minimize their tax bills. Such schemes are often totally legal, but still feel wrong to the public. After all, the general public has no such access to the expert pin-striped financial advice and see no option for themselves other than to pay their fair way and therefore contribute proportionally to public services.

    The comedian Jimmy Carr was a recent notable case. He had not violated tax laws, but he allegedly used a tax avoidance scheme that was deemed inappropriate in the court of public opinion. He spotted that misjudging public sentiment could be costly to the value of his celebrity and more expensive mistake than paying his perceived tax obligations outright. Carr quickly apologized and recompensed the public coffers.

    But what of corporations that use sharp tax practices to avoid paying taxes in the countries where they derive income? Doesn't this have the potential to be perceived as even worse in the public eye?

    Brands benefit from their popularity across the globe. They can also be harmed when consumer sentiment turns.

    As reported in brandchannel, US companies doing business in the UK, including Starbucks, Facebook, Google and Amazon, are now finding themselves in the hot seat for paying staggeringly low tax rates in the UK. Accordingly, the risk of public wrath for the customers in the UK who help create wealth for these brands could be staggeringly high.

    The corporate world has had public image and trust issues for many years now. If much beloved celebrity entertainers such as Jimmy Carr can be compelled to be contrite and publicly apologize, what are the dangers to brand value it has taken companies years to build?

    Risk managers and tax advisers would do well to engage in listening to public sentiment and consider its potential damage to brand value. The lesson from the Shareholder Spring, the Occupy Movement and the rise of consumer power in the post-digital age is that there is little acceptance of separate rules for companies and individuals when it comes to rights and responsibilities. Being a good citizen matters for brands and consumers alike.

    Starbucks, Facebook, Google and Amazon are all top 100 brands on our Best Global Brands 2012 report because, as Interbrand's CEO Jez Frampton notes, they have demonstrating an understanding of "the role they play in peoples' lives and respond accordingly — building on successes and making up for mistakes. They are constantly nurturing their brands to keep pace in a rapidly changing world; they know that every market is different, every interaction counts, and every individual matters. Quite an achievement in such turbulent times." But in this instance, on this issue, they appear to be teetering on the brink of a PR disaster that without an appropriate response will evidently unfold in the not so distant future.

    Brands need to remember they have the power to change the world. And are expected to be good citizens within it. As Jimmy Carr found, misjudging public sentiment is no laughing matter. Playing fair and remembering how savvy consumers are in a world with constant global information are keys to building better brands now. As Tom Zara and Peter Cendella note in Citizens All: The New Rules of Corporate Citizenship, "It’s about the credibility of a company’s culture of citizenship."

     

    Graham Hales is CEO of Interbrand London.

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  • Posted by: Karla Aspiras on Monday, October 15 2012 04:44 PM | Comments (0)

     Apple

    Apple recently commemorated the first anniversary of the passing of its former CEO. On their website was a video of Steve Jobs’ memorable speeches, beginning with a classic photo of him with an old Macintosh computer. Now a year later without their visionary leader, many are wondering how the company has done and will do.

    Apple is one of the top risers in Interbrand's Best Global Brands 2012. The brand saw a 129% rise in brand value and now ranked #2 from #8 in 2011.

    Steve Jobs left us with an impressive array of iDevices, which are arguably his biggest contribution to this generation and the next. But products cannot exist without the brands that represent them. So let us look at Apple’s primary offerings and their trademarks. Everyone is aware that the first leg of Apple’s patent battle against Samsung is behind them, but how many trademark disputes has Apple had to endure?

    First, Apple unveiled the iPod® in October 2001. Steve Jobs called it a hard drive that could put a thousand songs in your pocket. Mr. Joseph Grasso, sole proprietor of a company called Web Pods, Inc., for “public internet kiosk containing computer hardware,” initially owned the iPod mark. Mr. Grasso assigned the mark, for an undisclosed amount, to Apple in March 2005.

    Six years later, Apple launched the iPhone®. Jobs said that with the iPhone, Apple is going to reinvent the phone. Apple sought to obtain a trademark for their iPhone, but the US trademark office refused their application because of possible confusion because of an existing registration for the same name.

    The existing registration belonged to Cisco Technology, Inc., for “computer hardware and software for providing integrated telephone communication with computerized global information networks.” Cisco’s iPhone is a line of VoIP telephone handsets. Cisco’s use of their iPhone mark before Apple launched its iPhone was sporadic. They did file a Section 8 affidavit meaning they still want to keep the registration, but did not file a Section 15 affidavit, meaning they cannot show continuous use for five years.

    Some called Apple a “trademark bully” as ownership of the mark remained unsure. Sometime in 2008, Cisco and Apple “contracted” out the confusion issue raised by the trademark office. Through a consent agreement signed in June 2009, Apple overcame the potential confusion with Cisco’s iPhone.

    They agreed that their “respective uses of the mark IPHONE are not likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception.” This consent agreement was approved by the trademark office, which led to successful registration of “iPhone” by Apple. To date, the amount Apple paid Cisco remains undisclosed, and other terms of the agreement remain confidential. Both companies’ websites state that either can freely use the iPhone mark on their products throughout the world.

    Before he died, Steve Jobs announced the iPad®. There was a pending application for registration of the iPad mark by Fujitsu Transaction Solutions, Inc. for a “handheld computing device for wireless networking in a retail environment.” Fujitsu failed to respond to the trademark office’s office action within six months, and it was considered abandoned, thus making it free for Apple’s registration.

    Let’s not forget the infamous trademark battle Apple went through two decades before the first iPhone. Apple Computer (Apple Corporation’s former name) battled with Apple Corps (parent company of Apple Records, the Beatles’ recording company) for the Apple mark until they settled with the condition that Apple Computer cannot enter the music business while Apple Corps cannot enter the computer business. Apple Corps sued Apple Computer again in 2003 when iTunes was launched for breach of that settlement agreement, but the Court ruled in Apple Computer’s favor.

    Icloud Communications sued Apple when Apple launched the iCloud service in June 2011, but the former voluntarily dropped the lawsuit and renamed its company Clear Digital Communications. The dispute between Apple and Amazon over use of “Appstore” is still pending, as is the application for registration of the Appstore mark by Apple, which in turn was opposed by Microsoft that claimed the term is “generic.”

    Indeed, Apple has a very colorful trademark prosecution and litigation history and that might strike some as a habit of “name now, worry about trademarks later.” But perhaps the underlying thrust by Apple here is that when creating such iconic, innovative products, you also want the perfect name and brand for it: one that embodies the passion in its creation; the genius in its design and development; and the enjoyment and awe that every user experiences with the iDevices.

    Interbrand's Best Global Brands 2012 report said it best: “Jobs understood that a brand is more than a logo…He also recognized that a brand is what connects a business with the hearts and minds of consumers. Simply put, Steve Jobs understood that a brand is uniquely capable of humanizing a business — and that is precisely why so many of us are Apple ambassadors today.”

    Karla Aspiras is a Trademark Analyst at Interbrand NY.

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  • Posted by: Jeremy Sampson on Monday, October 8 2012 09:42 AM | Comments (0)

    Wealth CreationIt was not so long ago that corporate promotion was seen as something unnecessary and frivolous—a waste of money. But, as established markets mature, new markets grow and competition within industries grows fiercer by the day, corporations around the world are increasingly becoming aware of the enhanced value that corporate branding strategies can provide.

    In today’s global business environment, achieving a unique position and securing competitive advantage is not easy—which is why the corporate brand must be cultivated, communicated and strategically managed. While it’s also important to establish a brand identity for products and services, few global businesses can rise to the top purely on the virtues of the products and services they offer. Today, there are other requirements for increased sales, profits, and status with consumers—and, with the strongest brands always upping the ante, there are new expectations.

    What makes a corporate brand stand out?

    Brand LoyalistsIf you ask fervent brand loyalists why they love a product so much, they may talk about flavor, features and specs, but what they really love is the brand. Take Apple, for instance. In any given cycle, competing products on the market prove to be comparable or even superior in function, but not all of them have been widely adopted. Why? It’s the power of the corporate brand and everything it exudes and represents.

    A strong brand is about building and maintaining positive perceptions in the minds of customers. This takes time to establish and resources to maintain, but an effective corporate branding strategy can help a company implement a long-term vision, create unique positions in the market place, unlock leadership potential within the organization, and make the most of both tangible and non-tangible assets. The bottom line is: Products come and go; trends change, but a corporate brand, if properly built and managed well, will last a long, long time.

    Building a strong corporate brand

    Streamline

    Trying to adapt to different cultures, languages and the demands of different consumer segments feels, at times, like an impossible task, especially when competition is already high. That’s why it’s preferable to strengthen your corporate brand and let the people who resonate with what you stand for come to you, which will allow you to expand your product footprint. An established, well-known brand doesn’t have to work as hard to sell to a new market. If a corporate brand is strong, the desire for that company’s products and services will have already been seeded.

    As the global market consolidates, trademark and patent issues become more crucial, and it becomes easier to market internationally, the influence of the corporate brand will grow. Certainly, marketing a master brand worldwide is ultimately more cost effective than putting constant effort (and immense resources) into supporting myriad brands.

    Be compelling

    The only way to get people to make that all-important emotional attachment to your company is to give it a personality, values and qualities that people can’t help but admire. This personality will attract talent to your organization, build a dynamic culture, and influence the look and feel of products, packaging and store environments. It will guide and eventually permeate everything your company says or does. Defining your corporate brand in a compelling way—and living the essence of that brand—will touch people and build strong connections which lead to loyalty, word-of-mouth, and increased profits.

    Be strategic

    Innovative companies with strong brands like Google and Amazon have their sights set on the long-term, not the next quarter. Establishing a corporate brand requires a commitment to product consistency, a clear set of values and a long-term plan for marketing. Focusing on the future, while managing day-to-day operations, encourages an emphasis on quality and sustainability and drives the entire company toward a shared vision. Deep, thorough thinking about where you want your corporate brand to be 5, 10 or 20 years in the future will influence how the brand is managed. In order to make the best moves in the present to help your brand grow, evolve and succeed over time, you have to be strategic.

    Be consistent

    Consistent imagery and color schemes allow customers, partners and employees to immediately recognize products or a company’s presence as a sponsor at every touchpoint. An ever-present, well-coordinated visual identity maintains consistency between product lines, version changes and different markets. In a crowded marketplace, if consumers can recognize your brand’s unique look and characteristics and easily distinguish your company’s products from competing products, it’s a huge competitive advantage. Further, messaging that consistently conveys your company’s vision, values and personality is equally important and helps to build the emotional bond between consumers and the brand. When well-aligned and kept consistent over time, effective messaging and a strong visual identity leaves a lasting, positive impression on consumers, strengthens and enhances a company’s culture and builds a strong corporate brand.

    Be relevant

    Corporate branding allows marketing efforts to easily target the most appropriate segments for product offers. Distinguishing a company by lifestyle, geography and socio-economic factors, branding helps consumers select products that are most appropriate for their needs and fulfill their wants and desires. Corporate branding also supports pricing strategies for specific target markets. A value brand, for instance, may present a friendly, accessible image that appeals to everyday people who are more concerned with price and function than aspiration. A luxury brand, on the other hand, can justify a higher price point by presenting a refined, high-class image and aligning its products with a glamorous and desirable lifestyle. Know whom you’re targeting and shape your image and messaging accordingly.

    A recognizable, conventionally conceived logo and the classic array of marketing tools utilized in past decades are no longer enough to secure a competitive edge in today’s global marketplace. A compelling brand that projects an inspiring or relatable personality, interacts with consumers, maintains consistency and relevance over time and is strategically managed will rise above competitors—as the brands on our Best Global Brands report clearly demonstrate.

    Jeremy Sampson is Executive Chairman of Interbrand Sampson Group.

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