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  • Posted by: Interbrand on Monday, March 31 2014 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

    Crowdsourcing names sounds appealing: companies can get responses very quickly and cheaply. “Namesourcing” has become so popular it has sprouted a bevy of businesses dedicated to the practice. Beneath the appeal of namesourcing’s quick, cheap turnaround (with a dash of consumer engagement) lies its biggest limitation for brands—the wisdom of the crowd doesn’t extend to deep category and business expertise.

    There’s no lack of success stories around crowdsourced innovation and technology. When AB-InBev wanted to develop a brand more attuned to craft beer tastes, it turned to the crowd. The result? Black Crown. And brands like Lego, General Mills and MWV have devoted entire platforms to crowdsourcing initiatives. But crowdsourcing for names can be tricky—or even foolhardy. Imagine if you let the internet name your firstborn. The results might be disappointing, to say the least.

    Crowds are, by definition, loose and disparate. When a brand puts the crowd at the controls for naming, it won’t necessarily get back names that reflect the brand’s positioning or tone of voice. For the crowd, quality and consistency are not always priorities. Aussie web designer Dean Robbins was actually kidding when he suggested iSnack 2.0 as a new moniker for Kraft’s Vegemite—yet the name he coined won. And when Mountain Dew asked consumers to “Dub the Dew” for its apple-flavored offering in 2012, hackers eagerly nominated names like Diabeetus and Gushing Granny.

    Crowdsourcing has the most value as an engagement tool that invites customers to start conversations, share ideas, and feel like they’re being listened to and appreciated. To do that right, a thoughtful plan should trump result. Crowdsourced names might make a temporary splash on social media; some might even end up on a real shelf—but the truth is, companies rarely view or treat crowdsourced names as long-term investments. The stories and campaigns that sit behind them—the stories brands can tell about inviting participation—is where the heart beats.

    Try to think of a crowdsourced name that isn’t on your radar because it was attached to an #epicfail. iSnack 2.0 is the granddaddy of them all, but it’s five years old. And the Gushing Granny disaster is 21 in dog years. But chances are, you’ve engaged with at least one campaign on your Facebook wall or Twitter feed in recent memory. There’s Lay’s Do Us a Flavor, Dunkin’ Donuts Next Donut, Sam Adams’ LongShot American Homebrew, and Mountain Dew’s DEWmocracy. What do these have in common (and why have some of them even thrived as global annual campaigns)? They’re inviting you to engage.

    So, go ahead—name a chip Benedict Cumberbatch, and crack a smile the next time you see a Lay’s bag at the deli.

    Paula Pou is Associate Director, Verbal Identity, Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Jennifer Bassett on Friday, May 20 2011 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

    As Mashable reports, The Logo for Human Rights, a non-profit organization, and jovoto, an online platform for the creative community, have paired up to crowdsource designs for a global logo to act as a symbol for human rights issues. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, the UN High Commission for Human Rights, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and four Nobel Peace Prize Laureates will select 10 finalists. Afterwards, the public will vote on a winner from those selected.

    The interest in the contest from so many high-profile people underscores the prevailing belief today that brands have a tremendous power to change the world. And yet, while a logo will no doubt make an impact, the real test will be in how well these groups extend the brand after the winner is announced. As we often say at Interbrand, brands are more than just logos and if the goal of the contest is to create a symbolic global banner to focus and organize human rights efforts, it will need to create a clear-cut strategy to match.

    Additionally, while the crowdsourced aspect of the campaign works well in this case, as it is likely to generate a lot of interest given the personal investment so many have with the subject matter, crowdsourcing can’t always replace the insight that experience can bring. That’s why, if The Logo for Human Rights is truly committed to its cause, it would be advisable to look to experts when moving to phase two. The last thing the Logo for Human Rights wants is to have an impressive logo, without anything else to back it up.

    If you are interested in submitting your logo starting July 31, go here. Voting with commence August 27.

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  • Posted by: Ryan Brazelton on Tuesday, March 1 2011 04:50 PM | Comments (0)

    I have very distinct childhood memories of going back-to-school shopping with my mother and spending the majority of our time and budget at JCPenney. Most of them center on me wading through racks and racks of t-shirts and oxfords, looking for items that looked like they were from Macy’s or higher-end stores that we couldn’t afford. Through the nineties and early 2000s, “Penney’s,” as my mother called it was a classic story of a retailer that has lost its way and was on a slow and steady decline to obscurity. However over the last five years, it has managed turn its brand around by updating merchandise, partnering with brands like Sephora, and putting out a more compelling brand and ad message, which brings us to 2011, and a brand new logo unveiling at the Academy Awards.

    Where to begin on the new crowdsourced logo? Many blogs, news outlets have already weighed in, with varying opinions ranging from comparing the new logo to the “Gapgate” disaster to giving JCPenney (or should we now write “jcpenney?”) a mild applause for evolving and responding to today’s trends and tastes. Interestingly enough, JCPenney is using all the same type and shapes as the failed new Gap logo. However, unlike Gap’s limp-wristed effort, it is using it in a more successful fashion.

    Overall the logo, the competent but uninspired work of a third-year design student at UC, plays it fairly safe. The past logo included the same typography and leveraged a red square, so the old familiar elements still exist. Gone (thankfully) is the corner-to-corner gradient from the past, where the entire mark was contained within the square. The new identity does appear to be friendlier, with the now lower-case “jcp” captured in the red box. At the same time, the new mark lends itself to being parted out: the boxed “jcp” lends itself to uses in digital and in-store communication packages. Overall, the logo does have a more modern appeal. However, it doesn’t reposition the brand as some new identities might. It certainly isn’t overly fashionable and still caters to JCPenney’s Middle America audience. Indeed, the change is so tame, that it is doubtful that the new look will upset any apple carts.

    And yet, the messaging that JCPenney is sending out on its website contrasts with the signal is sending through it logo. The website proclaims that the new identity is "...a move symbolizing JCPenney's transformation to become America's favorite shopping destination for discovering great styles at compelling prices..." and that it represents "the most meaningful update to the company's logo in 40 years.” It also states that it is an evolutionary step forward.

    The change is a move in the right direction, but is it revolutionary? No. Like Gap and the host of rebrands we’re seeing this post-recession year (Urban Outfitters, Starbucks, to name just a few), a new logo seems to have been done to create some news and not much else. In the case of JCPenney, the strategy hasn’t exactly backfired, but the question is, will it really succeed in differentiating the brand beyond just a short moment? Based on the logo alone, probably not.

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  • Posted by: Jeff Mancini on Wednesday, February 23 2011 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

    In the new age of customer-centric marketing, brands have devoted considerable time and resources to communicating with consumers across a wide array of digital channels. These efforts range from paying them to be friends, all the way to using consumers to crowdsource ideas for what their brand should stand for. While these relationships are very important to building brand value, what about the “other” crowd—the one inside of the organization?

    In a large company, there are thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of people who live and breathe the company’s products and services every day. Collectively, they listen to customer service issues, drive product innovation, attract and retain top talent—the list goes on. With this in mind, if there were an area for improvement, wouldn’t you ask them for suggestions? Do ordinary customers really understand the complexities of your market enough to provide meaningful direction? In order to create a balanced dialogue, I would argue that the same investments that are made in engaging customers should be made in employees. After all, when brands are committed to great products and services, strong customer relationships are soon to follow.

    Let’s imagine for a moment that CRM became ERM (Employee Relationship Management) and agency partners were bidding on RFPs for new applications to start a dialogue with employees—to foster an open and transparent relationship with them. Sounds a little funny, but why? Let’s keep going: employees are leveraging their insights and joining cross-disciplinary teams to break down silos through co-creation. Senior management issues challenge and provide capital and rewards for collaboration. Facebook, twitter, and tumblr move from personal distractions to business tools for connecting with customers, putting a human face on the company. Learning and empowerment become tools for boosting satisfaction, retention, and productivity. Imagine that this strategy is as robust as the external one.

    This idea is not to dismiss the power of crowds, but to consider the power of more than one crowd. If digital strategy addresses both of these critical relationships, brands could enter a cycle of value creation. They would no longer search for the right stories, or the right people to tell them. Customers would see what brands are doing to improve their experiences with greater clarity. Their feedback would inspire better products and services and satisfaction rates would increase exponentially. 

    Although all this may sound like a chapter from a William Gibson novel, some of the greatest brands in the world (Starbucks, Wrigley, and AT&T) are already doing this today. So, the next time you step up to address the crowd with your brand, make sure you look both ways.

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  • Posted by: Craig Stout on Friday, October 8 2010 05:39 PM | Comments (0)

    Many brands (and the logos that represent them) become background noise in our busy lives and are often forgotten. They become an unrecognized constant after decades of receding from visibility. As a result, a change to even the most mundane or bland logo can create passion in even disaffected consumers.

    Gap caused a major online flare of anger and disappointment in branding circles on Thursday when it unveiled its new logo. The formerly boring, but established, logo of the condensed white GAP lettering was replaced with a straightforward piece of Helvetica and a small blue box behind the P — and caused a lighting bolt of digital rage to hit the branding blogs on the poor choice of design.

    It is not surprising Gap has chosen to change its logo. The fashion retailer should strive to stay relevant to the changing tastes of its customers. However, it is somewhat surprising that it made the choice it did. It feels like a lukewarm shift, embracing the typestyle that has been used in its visual system and advertising for sometime, with a nod to the blue square that has been the shape of its logo historically. For such a well-known brand to waste an opportunity to make a more substantial change seems like a limp-wristed effort.

    What is truly surprising is the response. With this change, Gap has seemed to connect with disengaged consumers. For the past few days, it has been the center of a lot of attention and considered by people who have not thought about Gap for some time. Facebook groups that are devoted to hating the new logo have cropped up and design blogs discussing the logo have doubled their traffic.

    Gap’s Facebook page has addressed its users’ concerns and asked the Facebook community to send in their own designs. This may be the first time a major brand has crowdsourced a new logo after they have launched an unpopular one. In the Spring of 2009, when Tropicana redesigned its orange juice packaging, there was mass criticism of the new design, but there wasn't an online movement to redesign the packaging – nor a mob toting pitchforks, torches and Adobe Illustrator.

    The surprises continue in the range and volume of logos already generated in the last 48 hours. The proliferation of design software and social networking has enabled users to create and share thousands of new logos – some of which are better, most clearly worse and some that satirize the branding industry. It is a new phenomenon to see so many designers, who normally make their living getting paid for their services, volunteering work.

    It will be interesting to see how this drama plays out and even more interesting to see if the logo impacts the value of the Gap brand in the long-term.

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