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  • Posted by: Carolyn Ray on Friday, May 16 2014 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

    If ever there was a conference geared to thirsty innovation-seekers, Fast Company’s Innovation Uncensored 2014 was it.

    Throughout the daylong conference last month in New York, leaders from some of the most progressive brands in the world shared what they are doing to adapt to challenges and make the most of opportunities—faster than ever before. 

    In an open, intimate setting, almost 20 speakers from organizations such as PepsiCo, Disney, Tough Mudder, Nasty Gal, Atom Factory, Evernote, DonorsChoose, ThinkUp, and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, partnered with Fast Company editors to candidly examine the authenticity of brands, leadership, and new paths to innovation. Smoothly emceed by provocative comic Baratunde Thurston, the event exercised its right to explore innovation in its most uncensored—and real—state.

    As they conveyed their insights and lit the room with inspiration, it was clear these leaders were not only talking the talk, but also walking the walk. They were passionate about their purpose, putting their values into practice, and showing they knew how to lead with their heart—and their head. It was exhilarating to see what can happen when leaders “live” their brand, embrace authenticity, and help their teams to achieve their true potential, creating extraordinary brand experiences in the process. Six key takeaways from the day’s panelists:

    1. Be Your Own Trip

    One of the standout speakers was Sophia Amoruso, CEO of Nasty Gal, called “fashion’s new phenom” by Forbes magazine. She started her online vintage clothing site when she was 22, and today, eight years later, it generates $100 million and has more than 350 employees. Refreshingly honest, Amoruso celebrates her “inner freak,” which she openly shares in her new book #GIRLBOSS. “I’m kind of on my own trip,” she readily admitted, and stressed that there is “no gap” between who she is and what’s reflected externally to her millions of fans. Her advice: be authentic, and surround yourself with people who believe in your brand values. Then learn to trust them and empower them—become a flock.

    2. Ride With Your Tribe

    Tough Mudder CEO Will Dean spoke on a panel about the “inexplicable loyalty” of cult brands. Dean believes that experiences are the new luxury good—but it all starts with a shared set of beliefs and values. He stressed that Tough Mudder, which is an extreme endurance event, is not a race; it’s a challenge. Being a Mudder℠ is about the enormous sense of accomplishment that you feel when you overcome an obstacle—in this case, fire, mud, or electroshock therapy while racing through 10-12 miles of terrain designed by British Special Forces. “We think of ourselves as a tribe,” he said. Thousands of orange headband-wearing Tough Mudders have even tattooed their bodies with the logo. Mudder up!

    3. Burst Your Own Bubble

    Troy Carter, CEO of Atom Factory, provided some provocative thoughts on the need to maintain “brand integrity,” in a world of constant reinvention. Best known in the entertainment industry as Lady Gaga’s former manager, the entertainment executive said it’s critical to “get outside your bubble—your industry, your job—ask questions.” A man who embraces disruption, Carter said, “I love companies that infringe on other people’s boundaries,” and cited Uber and Warby Parker as two prime examples of brands that are doing just that.

    4. Get Your Team Right

    Promoting his new book, Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull, president of the Walt Disney and Pixar animation studios, said that everyone—and every organization—has the potential to be creative, but that leaders need to make it safe for people to fail. Mistakes are an indication that you’re innovating and trying something new. He shared his stories about the process of making blockbuster movies like Up and the Toy Story franchise— dissecting the mistakes along the way. In the case of Toy Story 2, the team had a total restart nine months before the delivery date. His advice: find a team that works well together: “Give a good idea to a mediocre team and they will screw it up. A great team will fix it or make it better.”

    5. Seek Connected Autonomy

    PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi began her remarks by emphasizing the need for businesses to create an authentic working environment that aligns with people’s “whole selves.” Speaking of her leadership style, she commented, “A CEO is not a part-time job. You have to be passionate. You have to love what you do.” She also spoke of community values and a “connected autonomy,” that encourages employees to engage emotionally with the PepsiCo corporate brand, but gives them the local autonomy to perform their roles in a way that suits them.

    6. Create the Change You Want to See

    A recurring theme was how a more authentic form of leadership is taking root—one that has the potential to not only accelerate positive change, but also create more meaningful brand experiences for customers and employees. Translating that impression of “big things to come” into words, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia—whose pending U.S. Supreme Court decision hasn’t slowed down plans to expand his streaming video company—wrapped up the events of the day with a simple, yet powerful message: “As leaders, we have a strong sense of obligation to create change. We sense the market, we sense the opportunity.” How do we lead the way forward with authenticity? By following our instincts, cultivating empathy, and “living” our brands with passion, purpose, and creativity.

    Carolyn Ray is Managing Director, Interbrand Canada. Connect with her on Twitter: @thecarolynray

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  • Posted by: Nicole Diamant on Thursday, May 8 2014 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

    Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit

    Eric Siegel, Ph.D., demonstrates the benefits of Predictive Analytics for healthcare marketing

    More than 600 healthcare marketers and communicators gathered in Orlando, Florida last week seeking solutions for their branding challenges at the Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit. At InterbrandHealth we have seen the impact a strong brand can have on a company’s bottom line. Many best practice case studies at the conference demonstrated this as well. Here are five key conference takeaways:   

    1. Measure your brand

    Just like a diet, if you don’t know your starting weight and measurements, it’s hard to get to where you want to go. A Brand Strength assessment gives you valuable insight into where your brand is performing well and where it’s best to focus your resources to make it even stronger. Understanding your brand’s equity is key for marketers because it validates your work, demonstrates the value of marketing within an organization, and helps you justify and secure a budget. As Bill Gombeski (Director of Strategic Marketing, UK Healthcare) said, when senior executives understand the value of their brand, it elevates the discussion of marketing and brand in a much more tangible way, in addition to giving the marketing team credibility.   

    2. Strengthen your corporate brand 

    Many hospital systems, particularly those affiliated with an academic institution, have seen an uptick in brand recognition and perception when the corporate brand is strengthened and used across the system’s franchise brands. Just knowing the corporate brand that supports their local hospital can make patients more likely to use the smaller facility. Cleveland Clinic has been a key leader in global expansion; its Chief of Marketing & Communications, Paul Matsen, insisted that as systems come together, a unified master brand system makes all the difference.   

    3. Manage your brand across all touchpoints 

    It starts with a unique value proposition that helps your employees, shareholders, and customers know exactly what your brand is about. When this message is properly disseminated across all your communication touchpoints, the brand experience is strengthened. The brand experience includes any and all interactions that your customer has with your brand.  Sometimes that point of connection is made through social media or press, but, more often, the brand experience begins the moment the patient walks into your hospital and continues until the moment the patient leaves. Therefore, it’s imperative that your employees know and champion the brand. Consistency of message also helps when you look to expand, either nationally or globally. Both Alison Brown (SVP, University of Maryland Medical Center) and Dalal Haldeman (SVP, Johns Hopkins Medicine) emphasized the importance of brand architecture for proper management and business development.   

    4. Be patient, be agile & take risks 

    Many healthcare brands are incorporating new marketing strategies and media for the first time. As Tadd Pullin (SVP Marketing & Planning, The Nebraska Medical Center) pointed out, the marketplace is noisy, and it takes time to see real change. This isn’t to say that plodding along is the best methodology. Having an overarching marketing plan is key to getting a buy-in from your c-suite. They need to understand what you do and why it’s important. But remaining adept and responsive is equally important. Customers expect real time service, and responsive brands are successful brands. If you are expanding into content marketing or brand journalism, remaining nimble is particularly crucial, and you will need to take some risks.   

    “If failure is not an option then neither is success. The guy who invented the ship also invented the shipwreck.” - Seth Godin   

    5. Don’t forget the people 

    Healthcare brands serve people, often at their most vulnerable times. In both our brand and business strategies, we have an obligation to place our customers and our employees at the core of everything we do.     

    Nicole Diamant is the Marketing Manager for InterbrandHealth.  

    Interested in a Brand Strength workshop for your organization? Connect here with InterbrandHealth. 

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  • Posted by: Nora Geiss on Thursday, January 31 2013 07:26 PM | Comments (0)
    Nora Geiss

    Nora Geiss, Director, Verbal Identity & Digital, Interbrand New York will be participating in the first panel discussion of the morning, “Megatrends: Driving Brand Growth in the Social Media Era” at The Conference Board’s Corporate Image and Branding Conference in New York City tomorrow, February 1, 2013. Nora shares her insights heading into the discussion.

    Social media shines a light on human nature. It reveals what we think is worth sharing, how we view ourselves (and how we want others to view us), and how we make decisions. Social technology is unlocking new windows into human behavior, feature by feed by metric by meme.

    I couldn’t be more thrilled to join our friends Lee Hornick (the Conference Board), Jonathan Baskin (author of Tell the Truth: Honesty is Your Most Powerful Marketing Tool) and Kathleen Shouldis (VP Marketing, IBM) for a panel discussion tomorrow morning on the big trends driving brand growth in social media.

    Here are some of the big social trends we have our eye on – and what they indicate will be coming up next:

    Beyond content to consumption

    Social sites are moving beyond mere destinations for social activity to becoming hubs of discovery and purchase. 2013 is shaping up to be the year that content marketing and consumption of product come together.

    The Facebook + Spotify partnerships point to social as a place to consume music and Facebook showed us how that could come to life by testing the "want" button. Up next could be books and movies directly downloadable from a friend’s feed, or click-to-purchase data embedded in b2b infographics.

    Retail brands like Pottery Barn and Victoria’s Secret and financial brands like AmericanExpress are getting the jump on this social commerce category. The question is how social sites will approach it - exclusive partnerships between sites and brands? Or social commerce for all, challenging the Amazon behemoth head on?

    Realtime web is closer than you think

    ChatRoulette may have been a faddish web crush, but its flame of popularity was proof that users will engage with real-time content – now you see it, now you don’t. These days, all the cool kids are using SnapChat, real-time photo texts that disappear in seconds (at least for now – don't get too cocky kids) and Facebook’s Poke and Twitter’s Vine are fast following with their own version of flash content.

    Big business conducts social listening to stay on top of issues and opportunities as they happen. Publishers who get the net use leading-edge services like Chartbeat to measure and optimize engagement while their readers are reading. And Realtime is putting their latest $100 million to work reinventing the Internet to operate in, you guessed it, real time.

    Social demands new approach to achieving brand strength

    The new standards of immediacy, frequency and transparency set by social media add complexity to achieving the ideals of brand strength:  in particular, elements like consistency, understanding, responsiveness and protection become harder to achieve. How can brands better structure their teams and their approach to meet the demands of a social world?

    In-depth immersion in brand and social strategy will need to become commonplace for teams that today, enabling people across departments to interface with communications teams and facilitate the social experience from fresh perspectives.

    Companies who adopt a “brand-as-hub” mentality that places a sense of urgency on a brand-driven culture training will be light years ahead when it comes to achieving success. This kind of thinking and approach will enable teams to move with greater speed and agility to live up to the ever-higher expectations of the connected consumer.

    Tweet us @Interbrand and Nora Geiss @kittiegeiss to weigh in. You’ll find more great conversation with #tcbci.

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  • Posted by: Ruchika Joshi on Friday, February 26 2010 02:49 PM | Comments (0)

    At the third annual Marcus Evans Internal Brand Engagement Conference in Miami, FL on February 22nd and 23rd, ironically the looming question was not how far internal brand engagement had come, but rather how organizations still needed to define its role. Some of this was evident from the attendees present (largely communications professionals) and the content presented. Mostly it was evident from the dialogue between attendees.

    Conversations at the conference bordered around better and greater ways to communicate. The whole notion of engagement seemed to have slipped a little from focus. Few were able to define what happens after communication and how employees are being rallied to deliver on the leadership agenda and business strategy. It's time to evolve internal brand engagement to become a more strategic vocation. Having said that, the conference was a good representation of the challenges and opportunities that exist for internal brand engagement.

    1: Internal brand engagement is not yet tied to organizational growth.

    Until internal brand engagement is tied to revenue and thereby growth, it will not really get the kind of attention it deserves. We went through this cycle with the whole notion of brands. It only became a priority to CEOs when a tangible value was attached to it. We need to go through the same rigor with internal brand engagement.

    Interbrand identifies internal brand engagement as the process of activating an organization-through its employees-to deliver an exceptional customer experience that ultimately drives choice, loyalty, and premium value. Like customer experience, which can be measured and is attributed to organizational growth, internal brand engagement needs to be viewed in the same manner. This is one of its biggest challenges to date.

    2. If we have to define a role for internal brand engagement, we need to be intentional about who leads it.

    Is there any wonder why internal brand engagement is relegated to an exercise in communication? Those who are leading the charge are internal communications, marketing, and a handful of HR professionals. The approach to internal brand engagement so far has been finding leaders who communicate to employees at large, as opposed to finding leaders who directly engage with employees, and thereby can affect and influence culture and the customer experience.

    3. One size does not engage all.

    We would argue that customer-facing employees are not the only ones determining customer experience. Everyone is customer-facing. The definition of customer may change based on the role that you play.

    HR "customers" are new recruits and current employees. Accounting "customers" are other accounting personnel in other organizations.

    Any internal brand engagement process needs to segment employees based on their role in delivering the ideal customer experience and then train them accordingly.

    4. Time to walk the walk

    Finally, the whole notion of internal brand engagement needs to be about behavior change. It isn't enough to talk - it's important to train, measure, reward, and create greater accountability.

    Internal brand engagement is activated when employees truly understand, believe, and live the brand. Words like engagement, change, and transformation, by their very nature, imply a continuum. It's a constant journey or cycle, if you will, of understanding, believing, and living that engenders sustained change. That in essence ensures that employees are able to deliver on customer experiences to drive choice, loyalty, and premium continuously. This is what delivers on growth. This is what defines strong brands.

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