Go Back
  • Posted by: Ilan Beesen on Tuesday, May 6 2014 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

    Brand Mashups

    To keep customers on their toes, brands have to figure out how to create unexpected connections. For some, that means exploring new ways to collaborate with others to create the never-before-seen. 

    The decision to pursue one type of partnership or another is definitely a strategic one. Think Intel chips in Dell computers—one brand lending a key capability to another. Of course, most co-branding/ingredient/sponsorship relationships feature one brand in support of the other. Attribution? Often unequal.

    But what happens when two brands meet each other as equals? They create something different. Unique. That’s the brand mash-up, and it’s sometimes expressed as Brand x Brand, or Brand + Brand.

    That naming convention suggests more than just one brand helping another. It’s the mingling of two different forces and promises—even industries—to create something that’s neither one nor the other—the unexpected third.

    It’s not totally new, but it’s still on the fringes—practiced by the most inventive. The Stussy x Nike mash-up pairs two very different styles and design sensibilities to produce shoes that are not entirely Nike or Stussy.

    Nike has been at it for a while, in fact. It was Nike + iPod in the early days that later produced the brilliant Nike+ set of products. This was the perfect marriage of design, tech, apparel, and fitness. Other notables include, M.I.A x Versus, Adidas x Opening Ceremony. Even retail stores like Target + Neiman Marcus are getting in the mix.

    While most mash-ups involve CPG and/or retail, GE is a notable exception. GE + Quirky pairs the resources of GE with the grassroots inventors of Quirky. The mix creates fun, jointly produced products that people wouldn’t expect from GE.

    Bloggers are getting in on the side-by-side game. Take Google x Berg for instance. This experimental collaboration may take Google out of the digital and into the real world. The key word being, “experimental.” The essence of the mash-up is nobody knows exactly what to expect.  

    We’re on the lookout for the next unexpected mash-up that will change the way we look at some of our favorite brands. What’s your dream mash-up? What would it change?

    Ilan Beesen is a Senior Consultant at Interbrand.

    Post a comment

  • Posted by: Christoph Meyer-Roscher on Friday, April 11 2014 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

    Recently I was invited to a nice little dinner at a friend’s place. Besides delicious dishes and drinks, there was something special about it. Everything was served in or on dinnerware she designed and created all by herself. How? Simple! She printed it.

    No longer in the realm of pure science-fiction, 3D printing has quickly become a science of its own and advanced rapidly over the last years, democratizing the process of 3D Design. Just by browsing through Thingiverse, a community sharing digital designs that can be transformed into physical objects at home, one realizes the pace of development this emerging movement has—with several new objects and designs being shared every hour. There are all kinds of little things you can print to enhance your daily life, but also bigger innovations on the way like 3D printed jet parts or experiments to print complete houses.

    Among some of the more groundbreaking applications, Dr. Anthony Atala, Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, pushes the boundaries of growing human cells, tissues and organs. In a TED Talk three years ago, he had already presented the prototype of a bio-printed kidney that could someday revolutionize organ donation. Or a more recent example: The Robohand project by Richard Van As, a woodworker from Johannesburg who lost four fingers in a work-related accident, and Ivan Owen, a theatrical prop designer from Seattle. They partnered up with MakerBot to develop a prosthetic hand that can be downloaded and printed for a total cost of around $150 USD.

    So, what are the ramifications of this technology for companies and their respective brands? Are we going to witness the rise of homegrown brands? Is the evolving opportunity for homemade production a threat to traditional manufacturing? From a historical perspective, rising threats are almost always accompanied by rising opportunities. And, in this case, it’s no different. Companies and brands can truly benefit from this technology in terms of workflow optimization and product innovation. For example, technology groups like GE and Siemens are using 3D printing technologies to speed up production processes across their business portfolios while reducing manufacturing costs. In another example, Nike released a first of its kind athletic shoe in 2013 that incorporated 3D printed football cleats: the Vapor Laser Talon. Constantly innovating around the shoe in its 3D printing and testing facilities, Nike unveiled an improved version in January, just in time to boost players’ performance during Super Bowl 48 to new heights.

    Beyond product innovation, an increasing number of brands are recognizing the huge potential of this technology to get audiences more involved and enhance the overall brand experience. Increasing its drive, Honda, following Porsche’s example (the brand published 3D printable data for mini Cayman cars), took this idea one step further and provided CAD data for some of their concept cars developed during the last twenty years. On the accompanying microsite people can download the cars and are invited to further develop the designs and play with them. Besides being a nice example of customer involvement, it is also an innovative recruitment tool that could help Honda attract the best and brightest car designers now and in the future.

    3D printing now also taps into the realms of food and cooking. Companies like 3D Systems, which teamed up with Hershey’s for its ChefJet Food Printer, or Barcelona-based Natural Machines, which invented the Foodini, are completely reimagining the future of food. During SXSW 2014, Mondelēz-owned Oreos created an engaging brand experience by combining social media with food printing technology for a real-time sweet-time: visitors are offered free Oreos from the “Trending Vending Machine” that incorporates trending flavors from Twitter conversations into the fillings.

    Just imagine the possibilities for other food brands. Maybe one day we’ll be able to buy chocolate printer ink from our favorite chocolate brands. Digital terminals inside retail spaces could allow people to instantly individualize their food. Printing cookies that match the tableware or food packages that come with digital cookbooks containing CAD data are touches that could really rock a birthday party.

    Other great future opportunities lie within the world of professional cooking for chef-focused brands like Unilever Food Solutions. Such brands could influence kitchens in real-time by incorporating live feedback from chefs into their product mix and making them co-creators or enabling them to fulfill the wishes of their most demanding guests with surprisingly imaginative solutions.

    The sky is the limit when it comes to 3D printing. It’s going to be very exciting to see how the technology evolves over the next few years and how brands will leverage this form of digital creativity to connect with audiences and create outstanding experiences together.

    Christoph Meyer-Roscher is a Designer at Interbrand Central & Eastern Europe

    Post a comment

  • Posted by: David Trahan on Thursday, December 27 2012 06:30 PM | Comments (0)
    David Trahan

    ROI isn’t just sales and Net Promoter Score. If one tries to build a social media strategy around fans, likes, click-through and sales – one ends up with a social media experience that no one wants to participate in. And after all, isn’t participation what social media is all about?

    Brands cannot force only traditional KPIs on social media, because unlike most other forms of communication, social media is more about brand than it is about anything else. The problem with elevating the role of brand is that it’s hard to measure ROI – hard, not impossible.

    There are many ways to measure the ROI of brand. Qual/quant studies, brand valuations and tracking studies are our traditional methods. Our latest addition to this is Brand Playback– our method of listening in on online conversations to understand brand insights.

    Some may think of this as "social listening," but it’s much more than that. The idea that we can use this capability to understand the effectiveness of our social media presence and tie that back to brand performance is just one way that ROI of social media can be determined for brand.

    The greatest hurdle to effectively measuring this ROI is that most brands forget brand when they enter social media. Brand architectures are ignored, brand voices are forgotten and brand messages are overshadowed by unnecessary content.

    2013 could be the year that changes, if in 2013 more brands take a brand-focused approach to social media that:

    - Reinforces the brand strategy

    - Aligns with brand/ product architecture

    - Speaks on voice

    - Communicates key messages

    - Employs visual consistency

    - Creates a holistic brand experience

    - Is set up for measurement

    Somehow, somewhere too many brands forgot about who they were and what they were trying to accomplish when they entered the realm of social media. If we come back to brand in 2013, then we can start to measure our success and prove that there is ROI in social media.

    David Trahan is a Verbal Identity consultant for Interbrand New York.

    Post a comment

  • Posted by: Ariën Breunis on Monday, April 9 2012 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

    Last Friday, I finally managed to have dinner with a good friend of mine. We hadn’t seen each other in months, so we had lots to talk about. I was particularly interested in hearing about his new job in Amsterdam’s flagship Apple store.

    During the starter course, I discovered that my friend had been on Apple’s payroll since January -- more than two months before the official store opening in March! This was the case because my friend had been involved in extensive training sessions since the beginning of the year.

    Before being faced with hordes of Apple enthusiasts in Amsterdam, my friend was required to work alongside international colleagues in the Apple stores of Covent Garden and Regent Street in London. During the rare occasions when he was actually in Amsterdam, my friend spent his days in a Hilton hotel participating in employee engagement training. In those two months prior to the Amsterdam Apple store opening, my friend learned everything about the Apple brand, its products and services, its communications, its retail environments, its channels and, of course, its people.

    As our main course arrived and my friend continued to discuss how helpful his training time had been in London, I realized why Apple employees have such strong internal clarity around -- and great commitment to – the Apple brand itself. Apple seems to innately understand that great brands start from within.

    As dinner continued, I brought up another leading brand, Nike. I asked my friend if he knew what an ‘Ekin’ was (Nike spelled backwards). He did not, so I explained the story about Nike and its ‘Ekins.’ To be an ‘Ekin’ means one is a true Nike brand ambassador -- someone who spreads the gospel of Nike around the world. After intensive training, each ‘Ekin’ is invited to have the well-known Nike swoosh symbol tattooed on his/her ankle -- a true sign of devotion to the brand.

    After dinner, my friend and I parted ways. We agreed to meet up again in a couple of weeks. I won’t be surprised in the least if he shows up sporting Apple tattoos, one on each ankle.

    Ariën Breunis is a Senior Consultant (Brand Strategy & Analytics) in Interbrand’s Amsterdam office.

    Post a comment

  • Posted by: Christine Sech on Tuesday, November 15 2011 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

    AussieBig hair, big stores, big business. According to Euromonitor International, the U.S. hair care market generated revenues of $10 billion in 2010. Of that total, shampoo sales accounted for $2.1 billion and styling agents were $1.5 billion. A large proportion of these sales took place at mass-market retailers such as supermarkets/hypermarkets, drug stores, and club and dollar stores.

    The mass hair care market, an extension of the traditional salon market, often features products that are mid-tier versions of high-end, celebrity-inspired grooming solutions. These mass-market products offer a sea of colors, scents and ingredients to attract consumers with the promise of benefits similar to higher-priced salon staples.

    Growth of the mass hair care market is being fueled by consumers’ desire for value in their personal care products, particularly in the face of continued economic uncertainty. Yet, consumers don’t want to sacrifice performance for price; they expect these products to possess attributes such as sustainability, high performance and accessible functionality.

    ‘Mass’ Arena Allure
    The mass hair care market reaches large numbers of consumers of different ages, genders and needs, from the solution seekers to the personality expressers; the high-hair-involved to the “KISS” adherents; the budget-conscious to those willing to spend a bit more on their hair. It’s a forum for brands to talk to these diverse consumer groups in an accessible, non-intimidating environment.

    Sometimes the brand chatter at shelf can be overwhelming. Mass-market hair care companies produce multitudes of multi-benefit products – think botanicals to “big hair” – for multiple consumer demographics. That’s a lot of shampoo, conditioners, and styling products crowding store shelves and vying for attention.

    Ways In
    How can a hair care brand break through the mass-market clutter and achieve success at the checkout and in the home? By adopting a brand and design strategy that focuses on identifying a target consumer, delivering valued end benefits, and creating a brand experience and expression that connects with that consumer at multiple touch points.

    Three brand strategies that are being successfully leveraged in the mass hair care market are 1) going beyond function; 2) driving connection through personality; and 3) creating a holistic look and feel.

    Going beyond function: Find something you can deliver remarkably well and stick to it. However, know that this means more than function. Determine the essence of what your brand stands for in the hearts and minds of consumers because it will guide the entire consumer experience with your brand. Yes, a reassurance of function is necessary because consumers want to trust their purchase’s worth. But with so many brands in the market today, basing your brand messaging on technology or performance functions without giving consumers a meaningful emotional benefit is not a long-term strategy.

    Also, keep in mind that the purchase decision process is more emotional than rational. In hair care, brands like Rockaholic and got2b speak to consumers’ need to express themselves. These brands’ products aid in achieving not only the look, but the feeling of living (or, at least, aspirationally living) a rock-star lifestyle. Similarly, Yes To’s brand strategy includes a unique positioning of organic elements that are functionally and emotionally beneficial, brought to life in a simple, fresh aesthetic and whimsical personality that makes “natural” hip and desirable.

    Driving connection through personality: What’s your tone of voice? How would others describe your brand’s personality and attitude? A brand’s character allows it to communicate and connect with audiences on a more personal, emotive level. It gives people the chance to get to know the brand and helps to differentiate its messages from competitors’. A unique personality elevates consumers’ understanding of the brand proposition and creates a stronger connection, especially when its functional benefits are at parity with competitors. BedHead and Aussie are examples of brands that leverage their playful personalities to create an ownable voice in the market. Also, Herbal Essences features experiential positioning and a playful personality reinforced through color, graphics, collection naming and label copy.

    Creating a holistic look and feel: To achieve a holistic look and feel, a brand should bring to life its unique essence and personality in a manner that inspires a multi-sensory world. This world, along with distinctive assets, enables a brand to convey itself distinctly, consistently and cohesively. Keeping in mind how people engage, buy and commit to a brand and its products is important when considering how to create a holistic experience. Herbal Essences and Fructis reinforce their positioning and personality by consistently leveraging key elements such as color, graphic style, and tonality to link communication across touchpoints. Aussie leverages consumer insights and its unique brand essence to bring its look-tone-feel to life. Holistic and consistent communication has been key to the success of this brand.

    The Outlook
    Euromonitor notes that the U.S. hair care market growth is projected to increase just 1% from 2010-2015; to sustain and grow share in this challenging environment, hair care brands will need to create a powerful brand experience and expression that connects with mass-market consumers at multiple touchpoints. The process starts with truly understanding their brand strategy and leveraging it via the tools and techniques described in this article: going beyond function, driving connection through personality, and creating a holistic look and feel.

    This article originally appeared in the October/November 2011 Issue of Beauty Packaging.

    Post a comment

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. Next page