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  • Posted by: Interbrand on Tuesday, February 25 2014 12:59 PM | Comments (0)
    Thinking Ahead in the Auto Industry

    Environmental groups like Greenpeace are turning up the heat for brands, calling on them to remove pollutants from their products. As cities play host to their fashion weeks, advocates are drawing attention to the issue. And many brands are responding with commitments to detox their products.

    As brandchannel has reported, Valentino committed to eliminating toxins and zero deforestation and Burberry committed to detox its clothing by Jan. 1, 2020. Other brands that have also responded to Greenpeace with commitments to detox include Uniqlo, Zara, Levi’s, H&M, Nike, adidas, Puma and Mango.

    What’s the value in integrating a Corporate Citizenship strategy for brands? Last month Clark University researchers revealed in their latest study that there is a definitive positive connection between sustainable, social and environmental supply chain management and corporate financial performance, measured by return on assets and return on equity. Not only is a boost detected, but a decrease in revenue is found when Corporate Citizenship is not integrated in supply chains.

    Taking a healthier approach can benefit brands not only in positioning themselves in terms of sustainability, but in connecting their brand values and identity with healthier living. As InterbrandHealth reported, CVS’s move to snuff out cigarettes by October 1 is a bold move. “By marrying business strategy with brand strategy, InterbrandHealth believes CVS is well on its way to being both an industry trailblazer and company to watch in the new world of health.”

    This month’s Closing the Gap, Interbrand's Corporate Citizenship newsletter, explores these topics and how brands like Coca-Cola, Ikea and Bacardi are taking action to future-proof against the environmental challenges of the coming years. As it becomes increasingly clear that climate change is an economically disruptive force, brands are putting a growing focus on Corporate Citizenship.

    The Carroll School of Management Center for Corporate Citizenship’s report finds a 74% increase in the number of companies reporting having a CSR executive over what was reported in 2010. More than 25% report that their CEOs are taking active roles in Corporate Citizenship program evaluation.

    This newsletter also features video of a conversation with Roel de Vries, Corporate Vice President, Global Head of Marketing, Communications and Brand Strategy for Nissan Motor Company and Jez Frampton, Global CEO, Interbrand. Frampton and de Vries discuss the importance of forward-thinking and investing in the future.

    How is your brand integrating Corporate Citizenship into its strategies and communicating its efforts to consumers? 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.

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  • Posted by: Jennifer Bierce on Tuesday, November 19 2013 04:57 PM | Comments (0)
    Tech Madison AvenueBrand leaders from the likes of Campbell's, Smirnoff, Facebook and Coca-Cola, startups such as Flipboard, Spotify and Mashable and agency leaders from companies such as Tribal Worldwide, Wunderman and HUGE met to talk leveraging technology and innovation to build successful brands. With additional perspectives from participants such as venture capitalists, government officials, academics, legal counsel and artists, meaningful conversations were fostered at the Talk NY's second annual Tech Madison Avenue conference.

    The talks of the day focused on three main themes: 

    • Creating an environment for technology and innovation to thrive 
    • Approaching digital as an overarching principle to facilitate storytelling 
    • Developing partnerships that are beneficial to all parties 

    A Thriving Technology and Innovation Environment 

    Kicking off the conference, Kyle Kimball, President of NYCEDC, along with representatives from Cornell Tech and FuturePerfect Ventures, discussed the changing landscape in New York City and how they've worked to build a city that encourages technological innovation to rival Silicon Valley. Looking at tech as "a horizontal that makes everything stronger," New York City has created 16 "incubators" housing more than 600 startups.

    Additionally, in an effort to increase the amount of engineering graduates in the city, New York has welcomed Cornell Tech, a new university that not only integrates startups, businesses and academics, but also supplies millions of dollars in entrepreneurial funds and generates billions in economic activity. With a concentration of people from a variety of different industries, all the speakers agreed there are unique opportunities available for companies in NYC and the city's position as a tech powerhouse is growing.

    New York City is not only betting on the next generation of entrepreneurs, but agencies are as well. HUGE for example, in addition to having an in house "incubator" for entrepreneurial HUGE employees, also hosts startup days to introduce new businesses to relevant brand partners. Wunderman has created its Wunderlab to map startups in all the cities it is located and match with clients. It is clear that investing in entrepreneurship will equate to big wins for everyone in the future.

    Tech Madison Avenue

    Facilitating Storytelling Through Digital

    While all the speakers discussed the need to look at "digital" as an integrated solution touching every area of ones business, Campbell's Global Director of Digital Marketing and Social Media perhaps best described it, using Campbell's "Digital Fitness" initiative as a model. As technology, devices and social media become ubiquitous in our culture, with children understanding how to use an iPad before they've learned to even speak, it is clear that consumers are more digitally savvy, and thus brands must be digitally fit to respond to consumer needs. To be "digitally fit" brands must understand how to engage consumers, identify the correct touch points in their digital ecosystem and tell a consistent story across each. Brands must measure progress across cultural, financial, customer and personal metrics to track performance in the digital space.

    Smirnoff, in particular, is leading the way as a social innovator through its Mixibit app, which allows consumers to aggregate their digital social life to create short videos that tell their unique stories. As an inherently social brand, Smirnoff saw the opportunity to create a digital experience that allows consumer to relive memories in a new way, aggregating photos, tweets and posts to create custom videos of their experience. This ability to facilitate storytelling is essential to remaining relevant to consumers.

    Benefitting All Through Strategic Partnerships

    The last theme of the day revolved around creating partnerships in storytelling. Adam Berger, a Creative Strategist at Facebook outlined five elements of a successful partnership:

    1. Align to business objective and KPIs 
    2. Create equitable & sustainable relationships 
    3. Be authentic to your brand 
    4. Be prepared to ship & iterate 
    5. The right partner at the right time 

    When these five things align, agencies, startups and brands can develop fruitful partnerships that will be mutually beneficial. 

    What does this mean all mean? 

    It is clear that investing in technology and relevant digital strategies is essential to stay ahead in this ever changing business landscape. In order for brands to remain relevant, they must become storytellers that engage with consumers in clear and relevant ways, building digital strategies that not only make sense to the customer and enrich their lives, but also make sense to the partners involved. 

    New York City is doing this on a macro scale, encouraging entrepreneurship and providing the environment to grow. On a smaller scale, as Smirnoff's Mixibit app and Flipboard's brand magazines demonstrate, brands must engage customers to add something to their lives and facilitate consumers' own storytelling and digital experiences. 

    With access to more data on consumers than advertisers, brands and startups have ever had before, the key to success will lie in the ability to turn big data into intelligent data and facilitate relevant partnerships.

    Jennifer Bierce is a Program Manager at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Robert Ausdenmoore on Wednesday, November 6 2013 05:54 PM | Comments (0)

    The Next Big Social Thing

    Where there might have been some philosophical consensus on the merits of big data, opinions on best social media best practices were at times more divided at Advertising Age’s 2013 Digital Conference and CMO Strategy Summit. Overwhelmingly, marketers understand the critical role that social interactions with their customers will hold going forward, but many are trying to get out ahead of the curve of “what’s next?”

    Visa CMO Kevin Burke commented that versus the year 2000, the average person is consuming 75 hours of media a week, 67 percent of which is consumed digitally. The proliferation of mobile devices and online reviews has forced transparency that will, according to Burke, “raze the ivory tower of the brand.” While the need for a robust digital and social strategy is increasingly apparent, there are some real practical considerations that are shaping what tactics marketers are deploying.

    Lucas Herscovici, VP of Digital Marketing for Anheuser-Bush explained AB’s three part strategy on determining social channels to leverage: Observe, Experiment and Scale. “Observe” platforms are new social channels that AB actively monitors but doesn’t currently market in for legal or propriety reasons such as an overwhelmingly below-21 user base. “Experiment” channels like the fast-growing Vine or Instagram apps are obvious fits in terms of their media capabilities, but perhaps emerging in size. The “Scale” platforms (like Facebook or Twitter) are critical marketing channels in terms of members and opportunity for impressions.

    Looking across all three buckets of social channels, AB has ensured they can remain relevant on what is emerging, what is current, and are now conventional “must-have” social channels to utilize.

    Ben Huh, Founder and CEO of Internet culture network Cheezburger had similar recommendations in considering what channels could be appropriate marketing vehicles. He encouraged marketers to carefully consider the role of “native format” media, and how applications feel, and function seamlessly across mobile and PC channels. Rather than focusing on capabilities of any one given social channel, content should be generated in a format that is able to be consumed and shared across the largest number of devices.

    In spite of their relative simplicity, Internet “meme” images are so prevalent because of how instantly they can be consumed, regardless of where they are viewed. Huh’s perspective was largely captured in what he calls “The Kitten Test.” Within the context of the Internet, whatever marketing message you create needs to be able to hold interest as well as a picture of a kitten, because that is largely the type of media you are competing with.

    Relevance in Real-Time

    A specific tactic marketers are utilizing within their social channels is the so-called “real-time” approach of entering themselves into online conversations. A gold standard example that was used across several presentations was the “Oreo: Dunk in the Dark” tweet that ran during the blackout of the last Super Bowl. Other examples included the royal baby birth and recent iPhone release.

    Neil Bedwell, Coca-Cola's Group Director for Digital Content and Strategy, is working carefully to apply some of these real-time principles to the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. Despite its acclaim, he opined that the Oreo example also started a trend of horrible real-time marketing imitations from brands that haven’t appropriately mastered “when to speak and when not to speak.”

    Twitter noticed this trend and developed an Amplify platform that allows brands to work together to live in the moment. An example was ESPN sharing Instant Replays of college football plays within Twitter, complete with a brief Ford Fusion pre-roll that was promoted to non-followers who otherwise fell within Ford’s segmentation. The highlights and associated ads were viewed over 7 million times.

    Like Bedwell, Kevin Weil, Twitter’s VP Product for Revenue, suggested that the key to this sort of real-time success is authenticity, but that its benefits are obvious when a good fit is uncovered. Twitter has determined that interacting with a promoted tweet has resulted in an average 12% sales list among exposed audiences.

    Robert Ausdenmoore is Manager, Client Development, for Interbrand Design Forum.

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  • Posted by: Michael Mitchell on Tuesday, October 8 2013 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

    What happens when a brand goes from being extraordinary to just being great? Both Apple and Tiger Woods landed at enviable #1 spots in their respective industries in the last couple of weeks. But their victories, both surprising and inevitable, highlight the benefits and burdens of brand expectations.

    Apple just ended Coca-Cola’s 13-year reign as the world’s most valuable brand in Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2013. With 72 million Macs in use, Apple retail stores (according to RetailSails research) performing 17x better than any other physical retail store, and the iPhone 5s and 5c topping 9 million sold in their opening weekend—the numbers are all there.

    But brand is the point where business meets emotion. Numbers aside—when was the last time Apple really wowed us? Over the past decade, Apple gained our loyalty by exceeding extraordinary expectations. Their run couldn’t last forever, but going from bold, world-changing innovations to simply steady, incremental advancements feels quite underwhelming. We’ll see how long our loyalty lasts as our expectations for Apple come back to earth, and expectations for Samsung and Google continue to rise (though, neither Glass nor Galaxy Gear have quite hit the mark).

    It’s been five years since Tiger Woods won a major golf tournament and met both his and our extraordinary expectations. Since then, like Apple, he’s made slow, steady progress. Quiet victories at less prestigious events have helped him reclaim the position of world’s #1 golfer and earned him the 2013 PGA Player of the Year award. But again, we’re underwhelmed.

    Nike attempted to reignite the Tiger Woods brand this year with an ad famously touting that “Winning takes care of everything.” It fell flat not only because it felt crude considering his personal troubles, but also because his professional brand was never simply about winning. It was about winning on the biggest stages and eclipsing history. As he continues to fall short of that promise, we’ll see how much longer we continue to tune in.

    Because a brand is a promise, and when you promise and deliver extraordinary things—as Apple and Tiger Woods have in the past—what happens when you no longer live up to those expectations? Apple’s #1 BGB ranking and Nike’s failed Tiger ad begin to answer that question in different ways. We’ll see, as time goes on, whether just being great is enough for either brand.

    Michael Mitchell is a Senior Consultant, Verbal Identity, Interbrand Singapore.

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  • Posted by: Fred Burt on Friday, June 14 2013 12:31 PM | Comments (0)
    Interbrand London Best Global Green Brands 2013 EventAs part of the Best Global Green Brands 2013 (BGGB) launch this week, Interbrand hosted an event at The Guardian newspaper's headquarters in London. With luminaries from the world of sustainability and branding in the room, and a panel-based format, the debate was always likely to be engaging and interesting. Here were the stand-out points I took note of:

    Firstly, Jez Frampton asked the crowd who had three or more old mobile phones in their drawers and cupboards at home and the majority of the audience put their hand up (including me). This illustrated why Apple, among our top global brands, slipped down the BGGB ranking: product disposal is not something they are addressing actively enough.

    Jake Backus, Customer Sustainability Director for Coca-Cola was a panelist. Coke is more interested in what they call casual greens rather than dark greens, as there are more of them, plus they’re looking for brands to help them be better consumers. They want their preferred brands to be more sustainable, rather than looking for the most sustainable brand in the marketplace. There’s an opportunity for leading brands to take note from Coke.

    The panellists agreed that sustainability is a genuine unfulfilled business opportunity. Consumers do want great products that are better for the world. But they don't want to compromise on quality, performance or convenience. This is a huge opportunity for businesses and brands with R&D resources at their disposal. An example cited by Jake Backus was Coke’s I LOHAS water product, which has taken Japan by storm, in part because of its environmental credentials (although dark greens would probably be uncomfortable with claiming imported bottled water qualifies as "sustainable").

    As the above example demonstrates, sustainability can be part of a growth strategy. This is particularly true in developing markets, where consumers credit brands that innovate in sustainability with technical excellence and therefore assume their products are superior.

    There was an interesting contrast between BMW and Nissan. BMW recognised that to build a successful ground-up electric car they had to set up a business unit that was entirely outside of the core business. Nissan, meanwhile is looking to put sustainability much more at the heart of the business.

    And I loved the idea that we, as brand stewards, should be looking at foresight rather than insight. The consumer wants to be led, and asking them what they want now will not result in leadership.

    Finally, leadership itself was a key topic. I heard Coke talk about being very aware of its "social license to operate." Taking a leadership position on the issues it can and should be influencing – child obesity being the obvious one – is a responsibility they’re not ducking.

    If last night’s event was anything to go by, our BGGB study is stimulating exactly the kind of debate we had in mind. I’m looking forward to following the feedback.

    Fred Burt is the Managing Director of Global Accounts at Interbrand.

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