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  • Posted by: Josh Feldmeth on Sunday, July 13 2014 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

    The life insurance business—insurance, annuities, retirement—is one of the most dynamic business sectors globally. A recent PwC CEO study reported that more CEOs of life insurance companies were pursuing new business models than companies in any other sector.   

    The study notes that an “effective use of technology is going to be a crucial factor to spur greater innovation and differentiation as business models evolve. Applying digital technology in the life insurance markets, for example, is leading towards more flexible assisted and self-directed models for buying policies.”    

    These companies are all trying to make the same shift: from a supply orientation to a demand or customer-based business model. The fastest growing businesses today are building value chains that start with the customer, innovate around unmet needs and deliver products and services through connected experiences and ecosystems that allow for a high level of engagement, personalization, and advocacy.   

    But this kind of growth requires change and this is a challenge for the life insurance/retirement industry where the prevailing belief is that the product is sold not bought.   

    Here are three key strategies for making the shift and achieving customer-led growth:   

    1.   Bring the customer into the conversation. This is an opportunity for life insurance companies to display their skills in supply-side economics—underwriting, product design, pricing, and distribution—while offering a level of transparency where the customer can engage and voice his or her unmet needs.  

    2.   Make the economic case for experience. Delivering connected customer experiences requires functional integration and capital expenditure (capex). We witnessed it in a recent case for a global services business; we calculated an incremental $300,000,000 lift in revenue simply from optimizing the customer experience. And that was for one segment in the US alone. 

    3.   Lastly, increase the market rhythm. By opening the gates to allow management to listen to the customer, you’re accelerating the rhythm of the marketplace. This, in turn, changes the speed at which customers make decisions about your product. Life insurance and annuities generally have a very slow rhythm, but, with this new flow, it changes the natural frequencies and sells opportunities.

    By simply bringing the customer into the business, making a case for the business valuation to free capex and encourage functional integration, and building experiences that will relate and increase the market rhythm, the life insurance business model can be shifted into a personal and life-long experience.

    For more information about achieving customer-led growth, please contact Josh Feldmeth, CEO, Interbrand New York at jfeldmeth@interbrand.com. Connect with him on Twitter: @JoshFeldmeth

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  • Posted by: Mark Dwyer on Tuesday, June 17 2014 05:53 PM | Comments (0)

    Never stop improving. Lowe’s is clearly targeting house-proud consumers with its tagline, but the North American retailer is demonstrating its own commitment to progress by boldly going where no home-improvement brand has gone before.

    With the launch of the Holoroom concept in Toronto, Lowe’s is revolutionizing the in-store customer experience. The 30-foot-by-30-foot augmented reality space gives customers a startlingly realistic 3-D depiction of their finished renovation projects—before they start tearing down walls.

    By dramatically improving customers’ ability to visualize the outcome, they are more likely to move ahead with renovation projects. Couples can agree on what they like or don’t like before they purchase and install items. They can try on multiple approaches to their renovations, risk-free, in a unique extension of the Lowe’s 3-D augmented reality mobile app.

    With the Holoroom, the Lowe’s Innovation Labs team has brought a novel version of augmented reality to the shopping experience. Inspired by science fiction, it has also proven science pundits wrong for predicting that the first real-life version of Star Trek’s Holodeck would not materialize until 2024. Kudos, Lowes, for being that far ahead of schedule.

    —Mark Dwyer is Director, Verbal Identity, for Interbrand Canada

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  • Posted by: Interband on Thursday, June 5 2014 07:56 PM | Comments (0)
    What Marketers Can Learn From Best Swiss Brands 2014 Best Swiss Brands

    Best Swiss Brands

    Best Swiss Brands

    In 2014, Interbrand recognized the Best Swiss Brands for the 3rd time. In honor of the occasion, Interbrand hosted an event in its Zurich office on May 13th. Both clients and leaders representing the Best Swiss Brands joined Interbrand to celebrate. 

    For the first time, B2B brands were included in the ranking, indicating the growing importance of this sector. ABB, Swiss Re, Sulzer, and Syngenta are impressively demonstrating the role of consistent and mindful brand management and its rising influence on the company's performance. 

    With outstanding overall performance, the unrivalled Nescafé occupies the top spot in the ranking, but the Swiss luxury industry and the pharmaceutical industry, represented by powerhouse brands like Novartis and Roche, are also very strong.  

    A close examination of the ranking, and the leading Swiss brands it highlights, suggests factors that are indispensable for successful brand management. It reveals that the most successful brands understand the importance of brand management. These brands know when to evolve, when to reinvent themselves, and the importance of aligning their brand strategy with their business strategy. 

    When looking at the leading Swiss brands and assessing their strengths, some common themes and lessons emerge: 

    Evolution of brand management 

    The impact of the brand on a company's performance is becoming increasingly evident. Organizations that realize this are integrating the brand into the overall business strategy, with the brand strategy serving as the interpretation of the business strategy. However, when brands are viewed as the valuable assets they are and positioned to lead a business forward, it is essential to have a great vision for them. To fulfill the promise of that vision, it is often necessary to make changes and drive innovation. To bring that vision to life, to touch audiences emotionally and to create a truly outstanding brand experience also means placing a strong emphasis on design and clear, authentic communication.

    Brand experience across all touchpoints 

    Brands cannot be successful if people are not aware of them and impacted by them. In order to reach target audiences and keep them engaged, the establishment of a compelling brand experience is necessary. Not just relying on the brand’s classic offline brand appearance, the experience also includes the digital experience and, even more important, a cross-channel approach. By enhancing the customer journey through design, communication, and service at every step, companies can create a seamless brand experience that will anchor positive emotions in the customer’s mind. 

    The importance of employer branding 

    A clear and powerful brand position is not only key to attracting and sustaining the interest of customers, but also plays a significant role in attracting and retaining highly skilled professionals. Brands inspire and strengthen commitment internally and motivate existing employees to become brand ambassadors. Projecting this authenticity, appeal, and credibility—internally and externally—is something successful brands seek to do effectively. 

    Brand value determines brand activities 

    A corporate brand is sometimes thought of as a cost center, but organizations are better served by viewing it as a business asset. A company needs to understand its brand, gauge its effectiveness and potential, and manage the brand as it would any other asset. Brands have the innate potential to either strengthen or hinder a company, and it is up to the organization to determine which of these two possibilities becomes reality through the ways in which it leverages the brand. To leverage the brand effectively, Brand Performance Management must be established. Measuring and tracking a brand’s value helps companies decide which initiatives are necessary to build its brand power.  

    Brand communication means leading a conversation 

    In a digitally-connected world, where communication is taking place everywhere, at all times, it’s no longer enough to craft messaging and blast it out, hoping people will respond favorably. Today, there are many brands competing for attention and mindshare and static communication will not engage, build relationships with customers, or break through cultural noise. Today, brands must participate, interact, respond, and express passion for their corporate culture and offerings in an authentic way. Creating a platform to receive and discuss customer feedback, expectations, ideas, and requests gives brands the opportunity to learn about changing customer needs, meet those needs better, and ensure a positive impact.   

    The future of brand management 

    The Best Swiss Brands report illustrates how brand management is practiced today. To recap: 

    • Brand Management 3.0 is more about facilitating than controlling brand communications. It means shifting from “Brand Cop” to the “Brand DJ.” 
    • To achieve maximum impact, experiences must be thoughtfully designed, powerful and consistent across touchpoints, resulting in a memorable brand experience. 
    • Employer Branding is a key investment for any company’s future. Strengthening one’s reputation and image as an employer is an effective way to attract the best people, while a strong internal brand is crucial to retain talent. The talent a company attracts—and keeps— can boost future earnings. 
    • Measuring and tracking a brand’s value helps companies decide which initiatives are necessary to build its brand power. 
    • A vivid dialogue means benefits for all stakeholders, but marketers must bear in mind that fruitful brand conversations happen when brands are positive, passionate, open and responsive. 

    For the full ranking, detailed information, and interviews with marketing leaders visit www.bestswissbrands2014.ch

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  • Posted by: Nicole Diamant on Monday, June 2 2014 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

    iPharma conference speaker

    Day One of iPharma closes with a look at what lies ahead for the future of digital marketing in pharmaceuticals

    In the wake of some of the biggest pharma deals of the year, industry marketers gathered to discuss their digital strategies at iPharma 2014. Like its sister sector, healthcare, pharmaceuticals has been slower to adopt new media and technology than consumer goods, but industry leaders now recognize the significant impact online activities have on their brands’ reputations. Despite regulatory challenges, the presentations all focused on positive—and possible—shifts communicators can make to better serve patients and physicians. Here are some guiding questions based on the speakers’ presentations you can use to focus your marketing and strengthen your brand.  

    1. Are you interacting with your patients online?

    As consumers ourselves, we know the power of online interaction and how it drives customer behavior. Digital health is no different. One study showed that 95 million Americans use smartphones for health info, a 27 percent increase from last year. Patients also spend nearly 52 hours per year reading health information online. This is a great opportunity for communications professionals to write blogs or scientific articles to help patients find the information they are looking for or give them tools to interact with condition-specific communities. Being active online also gives you a chance to respond quickly to negative feedback, which, according to Time Inc.’s VP of Digital, resonates 150 times more than positive comments.   

    2. Are you using data to target your marketing efforts? 

    Whether it’s studying your customers’ online behaviors or tapping into predictive analytics, big data is a key way to stretch your marketing dollar. Technology now even allows you to pinpoint the smartphone users near a particular doctor’s office. 95 percent of patients complete an internet search immediately before or after visiting their doctor. Imagine sharing important information with them about their condition or symptoms right when they are looking for it.   

    3. Are you communicating clearly with your team about your brand? 

    Great brand strategies resonate through all levels of an organization, from research and development to human resources. Your employees are the face of your brand and the primary people who interact with your customers and shape their brand experience. If internal communication about your brand is not clear, open, and honest, employees will fill in the silence with their own perceptions.   

    4. Is the customer at the heart of your marketing plan? 

    To often, brands misstep by placing themselves at the center of a strategic marketing plan. They ask, “What information do we want to give?” rather than ”What information do our consumers want to hear?”  When you have a valuable product that aids someone with a disease, condition, or illness, the product may just be one channel of assistance. Are you considering other ways your expertise and reach can help your customers? Are your actions driven by a desire to improve their lives and provide value? Do consumers see value in your brand beyond a product?  

    5. Are your communications authentic? 

    Storytelling has become a key component of marketing and branding in recent years. Some of this is a result of the 78 percent of internet users who watch or download videos online. Videos that go viral often tug at our heartstrings but only resonate when the storytelling is original or authentic. You cannot manufacture great stories. But in pharma, there is an advantage. Any brand with products and services that impact human health has touched lives. And those who have been touched have great stories to share. What’s more, these stories will automatically be relevant to others who are dealing with similar conditions or challenges.    

    6. Are you building programs for short-term results or lasting impact?

    Because everything is changing so rapidly in the pharma space, marketing KPIs are often skewed for quick, c-suite-approved results: “likes,” on Facebook, “retweets,” etc. These results are not insignificant, but they aren’t necessarily indicators of longevity. Activities that foster a genuine relationship with consumers, that emphasize service and connection more than selling, will keep a brand strong, despite changes in the marketplace.   

    7. Are you listening? 

    To your patients? To your physicians? To your employees?  What are your customers looking for? Seek to assuage anxiety by providing answers, comfort, or community via content marketing, videos, and website development. Katharine Patterson, Global Communications Manager for GE Healthcare, closed her presentation with a simple but powerful directive, “Be a human first. Then a marketer.” 

    Nicole Diamant is the Marketing Manager for InterbrandHealth.   

    Curious about using brand strategies to boost your digital efforts? Connect with InterbrandHealth here.

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  • Posted by: Dominiek Post on Thursday, May 15 2014 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

    Ugg Creative Council - woman with child

    In 1978, Brian Smith landed in Southern California with a bag of sheepskin boots—but the UGG brand would never again be just a sheepskin boot. People either love or hate UGG Australia, but everyone has an opinion of the brand. Since its humble beginnings, the brand's magical combination of functional benefits and emotional appeal quickly spread around the globe. I, for one, never saw myself as a big UGG fan, but I have to admit that I secretly admire the company for its successful brand strategies, thoughtful product portfolio extensions, and the creative new brand experiences it offers. The UGG story and the evolution of the brand is an inspiration for all retail brandsand a good example of how a brand's identity can transcend all platforms.    

    To its credit, the UGG brand has always had a recognizable brand proposition. However, to stay relevant to consumers over its 36-year history, the brand has had to evolve quite a bit. From a symbol of laid-back southern Californian culture to a luxurious global lifestyle brand for active people, UGG has always been able to embody both comfort and luxury, which it embraces as core values. These values had always been consistently reflected in UGG's brand mission statement and in everything the brand does, but in the digital age, a clear mission and close alignment between its values and brand expression was no longer enough. Now UGG is taking a different strategic approach to flex its brand expression and integrate digital touchpoints to further extend its brand image in the digital space. Specifically, UGG is breaking new ground by fusing brick-and-mortar with online channels and cultivating a thriving online community.

    Give influencers the spotlight

    With the online universe being as extensive as it is, a brand cannot attempt to assert its own voice among all channels without the risk of diluting the authenticity and inspirational qualities of its brand image. To expand its social media footprint and build awareness of its brand and productswithout losing authenticityUGG set up the "Creative Council." A disparate group of influencers, with strong personalities and a sense of style, will share their passion for the UGG brand and its products in their own unique way. The blog posts will live on each blogger's site, but will also be part of UGG.com. 

    Lead the conversation with authentic content 

    In a world in which consumers now trust on-line tastemakers more than they trust brands, this is a very smart moveand a clever way to market through content without UGG itself having to create it (something brands aren't always good at). Instead, the brand will be delivering the content to the digital world, while the bloggers share their individual opinions and real points of viewwhich will ensure more authentic content. Since this is marketing after all, UGG will obviously be influencing the influencers to write positive things about the brand but, the fact is, UGG cannot actually control what the bloggers write. It may be difficult for companies to let go in this way, but brands can no longer grow in isolation. Instead, brands need to focus on influencing and engaging people in the hope that consumers will shape "what the brand stands for today" in the best possible way. 

    Use digital to create a seamless shopper experience

    The aim to deliver a seamless customer experience across all available shopping channels, is a goal that is supported by UGG’s parent company, Deckers Outdoor. In fact, the corporation opened a brick-and-mortar "innovation lab" store with integrated technology offerings to improve its omnichannel strategy. The next generation retail store will serve as a testing ground for new technologies and merchandising approaches. You can now walk through the store, educate yourself about the UGG brand with the provided tablets, order your favourite pair of UGGs that are just out-of-stock and have them delivered at home, or even customize your own pair of new footwear. Regular UGG stores are also at the forefront of new generation retail, allowing customers to order out-of-stock goods online on in-store mobile devices. To stay relevant, brands need to integrate digital touchpoints into their physical retail environment, as customer journeys existing entirely in the physical world are history. 

    As these examples illustrate, UGG is forging new ground and flexing its brand expression across touchpoints to move with the world. By facilitating real dialogue, giving influencers the spotlight, generating authentic brand-associated content, and leveraging brand-led conversations across all platforms, brands can not only increase exposure, but reach the consumers who truly value what you have to offer.

    Ugg Creative Council - fashion images

    Dominiek Post is an Analyst at Interbrand 

    You can follow her on Twitter @DominiekPost  

    Photo credits: Images courtesy of UGG's corporate website

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