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  • Posted by: Margaret Baughman on Wednesday, November 13 2013 05:27 PM | Comments (0)
    Chipotle Scarecrow

    Content is weighing heavily on the minds of marketers. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 86 percent of B2C marketers and 93 percent of B2B marketers are investing in content marketing, and the reason is clear. Instead of pushing communications at consumers or engaging in a two-way dialogue, marketers must deliver brands with consumers and content marketing is leading the way.

    Consumers now control the conversation around brands, and brand-created content must provide genuine utility to compete in the attention economy. If the content is truly “useful,” consumers will share and amplify the brand’s message by their own volition. Effective content marketing pulls consumers in and enables them to deliver the brand across media channels to their networks. As a result, paid, owned and earned media are no longer distinct but converging and it’s becoming harder to distinguish advertising from information.

    Content marketing traditionally focused on churning out intellectual property. Today’s content marketing has shifted from content as expertise, to content as a service, as entertainment and even inspiration. Consumer and B2B brands are stepping into a new role as publishers and producers of content and are relying on consumers to expand their distribution power.

    Developing a successful content marketing strategy is no easy task. It requires new ways of creating and deploying content across digital touchpoints. These challenges were addressed at the ANA Content Marketing Members-Only Conference, hosted at by Thomson Reuters and presented by A&E Television in New York. The event included speakers from Charles Schwab, GE, A&E, Post Foods and L’Oréal and a panel with participants from Thomson Reuters, Ogilvy and Interbrand’s Chris Koller, Senior Director of Strategy.

    The five speakers and three panelists shared an inside look at how content marketing is playing an important role in their marketing strategies today. Below are three key learnings from the day.

    As brands become publishers, marketers must learn to think and act like journalists

    The role and scope of marketers is expanding, as they become brand “journalists” and “editors,” finding and curating stories that support the brand. Brands can longer push out whitepapers; they need to have a strong point of view and take a stand.

    GE Sponsored PostAt Charles Schwab, Helen Loh, VP of Content and Digital Marketing, leveraged the expert insights that were already a core part of the business and placed this content where it was most native to their customers, positioning Schwab as a trusted advisor.

    At GE, Jason Hill, Director of International Advertising, sees the role of his team as “telling stories that lay claim to our innovation.” Finding the inspiration for content that exists within the business requires marketing to become intimate with inter-workings of the business, which is especially challenging inside large, complex organizations. Hill and his team looked for narratives within the organization that demonstrated how “big” could also be “personal,” building humanity into the GE brand.

    Embracing content marketing means working with new internal and external partners

    Marketers are organizing to create effective content, developing new processes and partnerships. Brands are partnering with media companies, creating syndicated content, sponsoring content or co-creating content. In order to distribute content across a range of digital touchpoints, marketing is integrating more closely with technology and IT departments.

    Loh discussed the necessity of working closely with colleagues in IT and product development, who were critical partners in fueling and creating content on investing insights at Charles Schwab. Hill’s team at GE partnered externally, joining forces with The Economist to develop Look Ahead, a series of GE sponsored content that provides “A daily look at innovation that transforms global business.”

    Marketers are also implementing new styles of working and even changing their physical environment to create agile and collaborate teams. At Post Foods, Jennifer Mennes, Director of Media and Public Relations, alongside her agency partner, Dan Curran, President of Manifest Digital, updated their physical space to create a newsroom-like culture. At A&E, Lori Peterzell, VP of Marketing and Brand Strategy, and her team have created a “social media war room” to provide viewers with shareable content in real time when new episodes of Duck Dynasty are aired.

    Creating relevant content requires a deeper understanding of the customer

    An intimate understanding of the customer and the customer journey is key to determining how and when content should be provided. As customer data becomes more readily available, marketers are getting better at segmenting their audiences, personalizing brand experiences, and placing content where it is “native” to customers.

    Panelist Koller pointed to Chiptole’s cause marketing strategy as best-practice example of identifying an issue that’s important to customers and fully embracing it. Chipotle’s Scarecrow campaign takes a bold, even risky, position on the issue of sustainable food production while establishing an emotional connection to the customer.

    Duck DynastyTo reach customers when content is most likely to be relevant, Schwab provides investing insight in real time following an important shift in the market when customers are looking for immediate advice. The social media and marketing teams at A&E develop Duck Dynasty content in advance based on what moments in the show they believe will be the most shareable and make it available in real time as viewers watch the latest episode. This strategy has helped Duck Dynasty to arguably become the most social TV show in history.

    Content-worthy moments are also created when products and experiences are designed around customer insights. Panel moderator Stephen Sonnenfeld, VP of Corporate Advertising and Brand Integration at Thomson Reuters, described the first time he used the Chase banking app to deposit a check. He was delighted by this new service, which so perfectly addressed an unmet need in his daily life, that he gathered his family around to watch the event, becoming an advocate for the brand, unprompted. As Hill from GE put it: “Products are marketing.”

    Content marketing may be saving brands from irrelevance in the post-digital world, but it’s also creating richer, more valuable experiences for consumers and this is why it is one of most exciting times to be a marketer in our industry’s history. In addition to developing content that’s a win-win for businesses and consumers, marketers today have an opportunity to directly influence business operations and direct the future of their organizations. 

    Rather than create content as an output of innovation and product development, today’s content marketing positions marketing as a valuable input. Content marketing is branding at its best: An authentic representation of the business strategy that brings intrinsic value to consumers.

    Margaret Baughman is a Consultant, Strategy, for Interbrand.

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  • Posted by: Amy Edel-Vaughn on Wednesday, January 30 2013 04:49 PM | Comments (0)

    AVIAGE Systems, looking to position itself as “a global civil avionics leader,” turned to Interbrand to develop a new, cohesive global brand identity for the organization. AVIAGE Systems is a joint venture between GE Aviation and AVIC (Aviation Industry Corporation of China ).

    The company was unveiled in Zhuhai, Guandong China and will be headquartered in Shanghai, China with support sites in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA and Cheltenham, UK. AVIAGE Systems is working with clients on projects such as the COMAC C919, a new narrow-body commercial aircraft being built in China.

    AVIAGE Systems

    Nate Manning, General Manager of AVIAGE Systems, says of the logo, it conveys a “message of strength and optimism about the future.” The name AVIAGE Systems honors the joint venture between AVIC and GE and the Chinese name, 昂际, means “open to the future of aviation and soaringfreely without boundaries.”

    "In approaching the design for AVIAGE Systems, we wanted to honor aviation, a market where design elements frequently celebrate and reinforce tradition, through the visual of the cock-pit,” said Mike Knaggs, Interbrand Creative Director. "At the same time we wanted to push the design further than what is typically seen in designs for brands in this space and convey flexibility and innovation. Through the wings, the logo conveys AVIAGE Systems' openness to customers' changing needs, expressing the business opportunity of open systems.”

    “We wanted to create a symbol that would serve as a functional tool in both English and Mandarin and would visually capture the excitement for this unique venture's business opportunities," Knaggs notes.Manning adds, the logo symbolizes, “the improved flight experience and advanced operational environment brought by AVIAGE Systems’ open architecture and integrated avionics solutions.”

    AVIAGE Systems

    Rubén Galgo of brandemia says of the design, “Hoy nos hacemos eco del nacimiento de un nuevo gigante de la aeronáutica internacional.” (“Today we echo the birth of a new international aerospace giant.”) “Visualmente estamos ante una marca compuesta (símbolo + logotipo) o imagotipo, muy bien diferenciados. Hay gente que también verá en ella dos alas juntas o un avión en vista cenital… es como mirar a las nubes, cada uno ve una cosa diferente,” he adds. (“Visually this is a mark (symbol + logo) or very distinct imagotype. Some people also see in it two wings together or a plane overhead view ... it’s like looking at the clouds, everyone sees something different.”)

    He concludes, “Para mi, un buen ejercicio.” (“For me, a good exercise.”)

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  • Posted by: Jeff Mancini on Wednesday, January 19 2011 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

    There were plenty of goggles to wear at CES this year, but through a brand lens, things were fairly blurry. My colleagues and I were constantly reminding each other of where we were, as one brand environment flowed into the next. It wasn’t just the design that threw us for a loop; it was the 3D, the “other” ipads, and the “smart” — the "smart" everything. Smart phones led to smart homes, which contain smart appliances, including smart TVs, showing smart ads of smart cars. This begs the question: If everyone is smart, then, well, who is really?

    What is smart?

    According to Wikipedia, “Smart TV is also sometimes referred to as ‘Connected TV,’ (not to be confused with Internet TV, Web TV or LG Electronics's upcoming "SMART TV" branded NetCast Entertainment Access devices).”

    Confused? So are many consumers. While true technology enthusiasts know the difference between an ecosystem, a platform, and a device, the average consumer does not. The word “smart,” when used with such excess and frequency, just reads like white noise to their ears.

    To make matters worse, the word is actually used in different contexts by various brands. For example, industrial giants like GE and tech innovators like IBM use “smart” to talk about power networks with two-way digital communication — the smart grid.  Meanwhile, “smart” also refers to a platform for applications to run on, in the case of the mobile phone, and now the television market. Then, for other companies, like Samsung, which refer to its TVs as “smart,” it is a device branding technique. Finally, even GE got on the bandwagon with a “smart dispense” system, using the word for ingredient branding for a new appliance line.

    Two approaches to “smart”
    GE was one brand that  did a great job of branding its technology story both at CES and in its marketing communications, with a minimal use of the word “smart.” There is a nice overall connection to the ecomagination brand platform with some strong names like Nucleus and Brillion — components of its cost-tracking energy platform for the home. While it references the “smart” grid, a strategic focus for its product development strategy, the word smart does not become a core component of its branding strategy. Both Nucleus and Brillion recall intelligent technology and a larger initiative to make homes more connected and efficient. A few instances of “smart” sneak in when referencing a third-party smart meter and, of course, smart phone applications.

    Panasonic, which has a very similar brand platform — ideas for life/eco ideas — also makes a meaningful case for its technology. And yet, a quick google search for Panasonic + smart will pull up a frightful case of “smart” branding gone wild.

    Here’s a short list of Panasonic products from just three search results pages: Smart phone, Smart card, Smart Card Reader, Smart Board, Smart Networking (Viera), Smart Adapter, Smart Battery Charger, iPro SmartHD Video Server, Smart Movie Software, Smart Home, Smart Grid, Smart Lamp, Smart Air (conditioner), Smart Bed, and, of course, a Smart TV.

    So, to all brand marketers out there reading this, please consider the points above. There is a limit to how much we can take of one word, and this dog has already had his day. Maybe those of you reading now have a suggestion or two to post in the comments section below. Perhaps, together, we can make technology branding a little less "smart.”

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  • Posted by: Tom Zara on Wednesday, December 22 2010 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

    In 2010, the momentum of innovation and initiative in the energy sector was blunted. The core tenants of powerful brands, such as trust and relevancy, were compromised by the notoriety of greed and ignorance in the Gulf of Mexico and partisan politics and indecisiveness at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. In the past 18 months, we have been witness to the fact that neither regulatory nor political might has had a material effect on energy management and global energy policy. But the temptation to dwell on the negative must be resisted.

    2011 will be the antidote to 2010. More so than ever before, brands will be the lightening rod that forges new relationships with consumers, both educating and rewarding smart energy living. The power of brands will invoke new behaviors. A change in perceptions and attitude will contribute to a broader awareness that the reduction of dependence on diminishing fossils fuels is both a personal and societal choice.

    Shell, Exxon Mobil, IBM, GE, EDF and Pacific Gas & Electric, are just a few of the global energy and technology brands that are investing significantly in developing innovation to better manage and distribute energy in responsible and efficient ways. The collective brand building efforts of the category will ultimately change the regulatory and consumer landscape to embrace new and responsible energy behavior.

    Climate change is no longer debated as glib sentimentality from a misguided scientific community. The changes to our planet are poignantly documented in the headlines each day where record highs and lows are commonplace and the new norm is the unexpected. For brands in this sector, there’s a new urgency to address the consequences of a global population explosion, mass urbanization, and geo-political unrest.

    And yet, brands in the energy sector will need to do more than simply broadcast their intentions. In the end, they will be measured by their actions. Look to 2011 as the year when  innovations in automotive, home and industrial energy consumption will herald a new movement in smart energy living.

    There are high expectations that the ills of the recent past will fuel the energy sector to lead a global campaign that encourages and rewards responsible energy consumption. Now is the time for brands to change the world for the better.

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  • Posted by: Paola Norambuena on Monday, November 15 2010 09:57 AM | Comments (0)

    Ever have a friend who sported a political button or an environmental bumper sticker, but whose dedication to the cause seemed to end there? Too often, verbal identity practices around corporate social responsibility (CSR) have been similar: the word green amended to one's moniker, or a glib tagline meant to assuage concerned consumers without actually aligning with the brand in a meaningful way. Like our button-wearing friend: a badge, not a brand.

    A new report from Interbrand suggests that CSR is no longer optional — brands need to begin thinking of themselves as corporate citizens of the world. And rather than jumping on the greenwagon, your efforts should be rooted in your larger brand identity. Doing so will allow you to make a greater impact on the world we live in while increasing your brand strength and value. So financial sector institutions, for example, would be wise to consider micro-banking as a centerpiece, while food companies might want to emphasize sustainable agriculture. This more holistic way of thinking should extend to verbal identity practices as well.

    When it comes to naming — from products to platforms — badges are out. Names and descriptors need to speak clearly to the benefit. Whether it's in the ingredient, the making, or even the packaging, brands need to clearly state the reason why your product or service is in fact responsible. And for brands that understand how important Corporate Citizenship is to its positioning, initiative or platform names need to reflect the benefit they uniquely provide to the cause. The claims need to be real — and so does the language.

    In the beginning, everything was about a superficial environmentalism, as brands slapped some green paint on without a genuine basis for much of the marketing.

    Then, companies that actually had a proven commitment and vested interest in a host of global environmental issues found ways to trumpet that authentic side. For GE, whose positioning was reflected in their tagline Imagination at Work, the ecomagination coining brought together the need to be responsible with what GE could do to make that real. It played off a known term, "eco," at a time when environmental issues were just rising to mass awareness.

    And now? The authenticity that a brand like IBM brings to bear in CSR is credibly migrating into a broader messaging platform. Smarter Planet brought the intelligence of IBM to a global (and personal) cause. It's no longer based in simplified or associative terms like "green" or "eco," focusing instead on the outcome.

    As ecomagination and Smarter Planet show, genuine commitment to a greater cause not only strengthens a brand's proposition, it also makes good business and social sense. Face it: In a post-green world, you're leaving brand value on the table when you don't act — and speak — like an authentic global citizen.

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