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  • Posted by: Dominik Prinz on Wednesday, July 2 2014 04:40 PM | Comments (0)

    The annual “Good Pitch” in NYC is a unique event. Bringing together documentary filmmakers and thought leaders from both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, it is meant to inspire. But, most importantly, this meeting of the minds catalyzes powerful partnerships aimed at solving some of the world’s most pressing issues.    

    Change is a tricky thing to achieve. Especially when it comes to social justice. It requires a strong, clear vision others can rally around. It requires powerful incentives that motivate others to join in. And it requires persistence, because change doesn’t come easily.   

    All these ingredients were present in abundance last week, when one of several global Good Pitch events opened its gates to various filmmakers in New York: Each and every one of them introduced a personal vision of what needs to change in the world to make it more just, more tolerant, more sustainable, and more balanced.   

    The issues raised by the participating filmmakers ranged from critiques of the American criminal justice system to conservation. 3 ½ Minutes, for example, dissects the tragic shooting death of teenager, Jordan Davis, and the legal controversy surrounding the case. Another film, Seed, follows farmers and scientists trying to protect the diversity of agriculture and highlights the battle for the future of our seeds. And the documentary, Virunga, tells the incredible story of the brave people risking their lives to save a World Heritage site in the Congo—home to the last of the mountain gorillas and one of the most bio-diverse places on earth.   

    Opening up the event, Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, affirmed the important role films like these play in furthering positive social change. “The arts,” he said, “are a profound means of improving the human experience; and film is a timeless ally in the ongoing quest for justice.”   

    I could not agree more. We live in a fast-paced, attention span challenged world where younger people often gain more education and inspiration through short films and YouTube video clips than they do through the written word. And the fact that there was no dry eye in the room when Jordan Davis’ parents talked about the unimaginable pain caused by the injustice inflicted upon their son was a testament to the power of visual storytelling to raise awareness and inspire transformative action.   

    That’s where Good Pitch adds a unique (and indispensable) ingredient to the filmmakers’ vision and persistence: it facilitates engagement and allows influential allies and members of civil society to learn about—and get behind—each filmmaker’s cause. Whether it’s on-the-spot financial support to complete a film’s production, or PR and media connections that help amplify its reach, the collective action this gathering of change-makers inspires transcends the room it takes place in. By supporting documentary filmmaking and expanding the audience for social justice-focused films, the Good Pitch’s galvanizing spirit brings these stories to more people. As viewers, we are invited to bear witness, to join the fight against injustice, and to awaken our own potential for visionary leadership and activism, as well.   

    Events like Good Pitch provide yet another pathway of empowerment, enabling people to learn more about what’s not working in the world and giving them the tools to do something about it. From Kickstarter and Crowdrise, to dosomething.org and causes.com—these platforms for change can only be enriched by thought-provoking documentary films. After all, being aware of a problem is the first step in fixing it.    

    The fact that the event gives representatives of the branding and business world a seat at the table speaks to the important role some of the most recognized brands play in this conversation. The Fords, Patagonias, Googles, and Netflixes of this world can—and must—use their sphere of influence to scale the vision of filmmakers such as those who participated in Good Pitch. Those with immense resources and influence can do much to accelerate the kinds of changes we all want to see in this world.   

    Dominik Prinz is Strategy Director at Interbrand New York. Follow him on Twitter: @DomPrinz

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  • Posted by: Ilan Beesen on Tuesday, May 6 2014 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

    Brand Mashups

    To keep customers on their toes, brands have to figure out how to create unexpected connections. For some, that means exploring new ways to collaborate with others to create the never-before-seen. 

    The decision to pursue one type of partnership or another is definitely a strategic one. Think Intel chips in Dell computers—one brand lending a key capability to another. Of course, most co-branding/ingredient/sponsorship relationships feature one brand in support of the other. Attribution? Often unequal.

    But what happens when two brands meet each other as equals? They create something different. Unique. That’s the brand mash-up, and it’s sometimes expressed as Brand x Brand, or Brand + Brand.

    That naming convention suggests more than just one brand helping another. It’s the mingling of two different forces and promises—even industries—to create something that’s neither one nor the other—the unexpected third.

    It’s not totally new, but it’s still on the fringes—practiced by the most inventive. The Stussy x Nike mash-up pairs two very different styles and design sensibilities to produce shoes that are not entirely Nike or Stussy.

    Nike has been at it for a while, in fact. It was Nike + iPod in the early days that later produced the brilliant Nike+ set of products. This was the perfect marriage of design, tech, apparel, and fitness. Other notables include, M.I.A x Versus, Adidas x Opening Ceremony. Even retail stores like Target + Neiman Marcus are getting in the mix.

    While most mash-ups involve CPG and/or retail, GE is a notable exception. GE + Quirky pairs the resources of GE with the grassroots inventors of Quirky. The mix creates fun, jointly produced products that people wouldn’t expect from GE.

    Bloggers are getting in on the side-by-side game. Take Google x Berg for instance. This experimental collaboration may take Google out of the digital and into the real world. The key word being, “experimental.” The essence of the mash-up is nobody knows exactly what to expect.  

    We’re on the lookout for the next unexpected mash-up that will change the way we look at some of our favorite brands. What’s your dream mash-up? What would it change?

    Ilan Beesen is a Senior Consultant at Interbrand.

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  • Posted by: InterbrandHealth on Tuesday, January 28 2014 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

    Google contact lensesGoogle is the latest powerhouse consumer brand to dip its very large toe in the healthcare pool, specifically in the medtech space. And they’ve created a great deal of buzz, even though many of us are still coming down off our CES-high, where we saw gadgets and gizmos galore that could monitor our muscle quality, track a baby’s sleep patterns, and even tell us when to put on more sunscreen. 

    In the wake of all that tech-citement, sometimes we forget just how impactful these advancements are. Brands have the power to change lives in extraordinary ways, and nowhere is that more true than in healthcare where innovation can not only transform lives, but save them. 

    Google’s latest device may very well do just that. The pioneers at Google X Lab are developing a contact lens with biosensors that would monitor glucose levels for people with diabetes. This would be a life-altering piece of technology for those dealing with this condition. They would no longer need to subject themselves to daily needle pricks to test their glucose levels, and, if Google X Lab has its way, the contact lens will also alert them when their insulin levels hit the danger zone. 

    We were excited to hear about the launch of Google’s aging-research company Calico this past fall and can’t wait to see where Google goes next in the healthcare space. It’s another example of consumer brands shifting into the healthcare world- a movement we’re now seeing on a daily basis and experiencing in our own lives with the Affordable Care Act, uprising of wearable health tech, and more. 

    All healthcare companies can have a place in this shifting ecosystem should they choose to. Medtech devices may not be on brand for your company, but there are still many ways to drive your team towards innovation. 

    However, just because you’re a great technology brand, it doesn’t mean that entering the serious healthcare space will be without its pitfalls. It’s a challenging market with an array of stakeholders and dubious consumers. Google, which consistently ranks as one of Interbrand’s Best Global Brands, has shown great versatility in navigating an array of categories and customer groups. 

    But not every technology or engineering-based company has the depth of experience to navigate across new and different segments seamlessly. And more importantly, what makes a strong technology brand may not translate into making a strong health technology brand. 

    You'll be introducing your product to new and unique audiences and the criteria for success will be altered. You'll be competing against a group of brands already established in the category, and you’ll be expected to maintain your brand's standard against this new competitive set. 

    A Brand Strength analysis can help you meet these challenges. Brand Strength is one of the three core elements that informs Interbrand’s Best Global Brands annual ranking. InterbrandHealth has used Brand Strength to help a number of companies identify brand characteristics that should be retained, adapted, or strengthened to meet the unique needs and, often, skeptical reception of the healthcare audience. 

    Brand Strength will provide you with the tools you need to understand your brand as it relates to healthcare consumers and to the healthcare market at large and how to successfully navigate it. Once you have a solid blueprint for entering the healthcare space, the next revolutionary, life-changing product could be yours.

    Connect with InterbrandHealth, the only full-service global branding consultancy with an exclusive focus on healthcare.

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  • Posted by: Rob Meyerson on Monday, October 14 2013 05:18 PM | Comments (0)
    Basis B1 Band

    Last week, Basis Science, maker of fitness tracker Basis, announced an $11.75 million round of Series B financing from investors like Intel Capital and Stanford University. The news serves as one more data point for an increasingly obvious trend: the wearable technology market is in the midst of explosive growth, predicted by some to increase tenfold in the next several years. But whether they’re backed by startups, small businesses, or major brands like Samsung, Google, or (potentially) Apple, wearables face a common challenge: They must successfully bridge the disparate worlds of cutting-edge consumer technology and mainstream fashion.

    As pointed out in a recent Fast Company article, the advent of wearable computers demands that technology companies “pay as much attention to the ‘wearable’ as [they do] to the ‘computer.’” Simply offering multiple colors, inviting designers to launch events, or putting their products on models may not be enough to make these devices desirable from a fashion standpoint.

    Many consumer technology companies have a history of designing stylish products, but earbuds and phones—no matter how beautiful they are—differ significantly from watches and glasses. For instance, phones spend the majority of their time in our pockets or purses, whereas watches and glasses are on display all the time. More importantly, most of us are comfortable with just one phone, while many people own several watches or pairs of glasses, whether for reasons of fashion or function (e.g., digital watches worn while exercising, reading glasses, or sunglasses).

    How should brands known more for "computer" than "wearable" handle this challenge? Herein lies an opportunity for co-branding.

    Google is already rumored to be working with Warby Parker to design a more fashionable version of Glass. Nike, who makes Fuelband, is already an expert in designing fashionable apparel. But for others, the secret to good looks could lie in teaming up with well-matched partners and creating “ingredients” that work modularly with multiple products.

    Basis, for example, could partner with a brand like Nixon, who already makes some watches with a similar aesthetic, to produce a co-branded line of beautiful and hyper-functional watches. Or perhaps another option is Omega, already known for precision and innovative watchmaking—but also for luxury and design. Furthermore, the Basis health tracker components could detach and fit snugly into a full line of watches, similar to the Nike+ Sensor and Nike+ ready shoes (a co-branded offering from Nike and Apple).

    Deciding which brand to team up with depends on a host of business and brand considerations and without a doubt, negotiating the specifics of relationships like these can be difficult. Which brand is getting more “credit” for the product? Whose name comes first? If something terrible happens to one brand, how will it impact the other?

    Like any partnership, co-branding comes with risks, and can backfire because of mistrust or misaligned goals. Done right, co-branding benefits all parties involved: each brand benefits from the strengths and positive associations of the other, and consumers get a best-of-both-worlds product—in this case, a computer that is not just literally wearable, but desirably so.

    Rob Meyerson is Director, Verbal Identity, for Interbrand San Francisco.

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  • Posted by: Hugh Tallents on Thursday, July 18 2013 06:48 PM | Comments (0)

    CashCash.

    Your parents told you not to carry too much of it. Credit card companies are trying to get rid of it. Environmental good sense tells us to stop printing it. In fact in 2011 the US Treasury produced fewer $5 bills than at any time in the past 30 years and stopped production on the $10 altogether. About 50% of transactions are now conducted in cash, down from over 75% in 1996. Cash use has long been in decline.

    But it might well be back.

    What was once seen as clunky, dirty and inconvenient has started to be seen as a safe haven for those unwilling to part with a different kind of currency that corporations crave – your personal information.

    Consumers are waking up to what has been true for a very long time. When you pay for something with your credit card you are likely giving up more than the cost of those sneakers or groceries you just swiped your card and walked out the door with. Most people don’t understand the nature and quantity of the information they give up in every transaction and just how valuable that data is. The NSA Prism program shines a glaring spotlight on the market for data. IBM is openly talking about using it to make things smarter, Microsoft launched a “Scroogled” campaign to highlight Google’s use of it. Facebook has had their feet held to the fire about their approach to personal information. It is becoming a corporate battleground that could have profound influence on consumer choices.

    The publicizing of this issue by businesses is contributing to the same reason why cash can potentially see a re-emergence. Consumers already had to deal with potential fraud and ID theft. Now they are realizing the value of their information and how businesses are starting to use it, they expect reciprocity from companies for giving it to them. Consumers equate their information to a currency and they want something valuable in return. A more tailored advertisement is not really the answer for most people, they expect more than that.

    Interbrand research shows that consumer perception about data and its usage is not as binary as “I am okay with it” or “I feel like my privacy is being invaded.” People are starting pull apart the different ways that their data is used – whether in aggregate (true “big data”), specifically for people with similar profiles and preferences to me and lastly for me individually. The more specific the usage gets the greater the expectation of reciprocity and the greater the fear for consumers that the information will be misappropriated. These benefits need to be constantly updated and ever changing - expect to see wholesale changes to the loyalty points and affinity industry in due course.

    Businesses are currently obsessed with big data and its commercial possibilities but might not be appreciating that there is a human at the end of that binary string. The role of the brand is to help the business understand not only the need to provide a reciprocal benefit but give insight into what those use cases and benefits might be. Brands that expect their customers to freely and willingly, allow their data to be used must be prepared to do the work to understand what those customers want in return and be prepared to continue to deliver an ever evolving set of benefits for as long as they expect to use the data. This is not a case of one-off offers, it is a relationship based on trust that requires constant reinforcement or people will close ranks around their information and, almost as importantly, the methods of payment that expose their information to companies.

    What businesses forget is that cash is a technology that the consumer is very comfortable with. It is trusted, it is universally accepted (the $100 bill is one of the US fastest growing exports!) and in the medium term competitors may need to be comfortable with the fact that customers want it to co-exist with more modern payment technology. One way to accelerate the decline of cash is to bake real reciprocity into every interaction. Until that time consumers will not only view this black market for 1s and 0s skeptically, they will potentially view the transactional anonymity of cash as making it safer than digital or credit in many transactions.

    Hugh Tallents is Senior Director, Strategy, Interbrand New York.


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