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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)


    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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  • Posted by: Claire Falloon on Wednesday, April 24 2013 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

    Claire FalloonMobile, big data, content and disruption, the usual suspects, were all marched across the stage at the 2013 Ad Age Digital Conference. One theme, close to all our hearts, truly dominated: the humans that give every brand their reason for being.

    Whether the motives behind it are altruistic, dollar-driven or both, the result does seem to be better experiences for people. From insights to new levels of convenience to heart-wrenching, real-life adverstories, at this year’s Ad Age Digital Conference, humanity was the bee in every business’ bonnet.

    Some were using it to greater effect or on a more meaningful level than others. Google, for example, walked the walk, eschewing any talk of "digital marketing," opting instead to talk about storytelling. They didn’t just talk about it, but presented it in a way that embodied the ideas they were touting, wowing a late-afternoon crowd with a spine-tingling, genuinely engaging and human-pleasing experience.

    Before we get too gooey, congratulating our Adland peers on being human after all, let’s not forget what this is all in aid of: sales, naturally. In these digitally enabled times it does appear, though, that the efforts of businesses to appeal to our human needs and desires is actually resulting in a better time for people.

    Digital video and original content is a great example. People like watching TV, movies and videos. If we’re to believe the speakers at Ad Age, people just like watching in general. People also like and need to watch on their own schedule, and they don’t want to pay too much or for things they don’t watch.

    Video Logos

    Starting from these basic human insights and then applying technology to the problem has brought new companies and business models into being: companies like Netflix, Hulu, Redbox and, more recently, Aereo. Aereo, using tiny digital TV antennas, allows consumers to view live broadcast television in HD on any internet-connected screen. Rejecting the traditional bundled options existing cable companies offer, CEO Chet Kanojia said the idea was to create a digital "cable" option from the consumer perspective, "to connect the dots for consumers so they can access the TV they want."

    It’s an idea that has caused more than a little controversy among the TV establishment, but has ultimately resulted in more options and better access for the TV-viewing public. Hulu takes a similarly disruptive view, using their digital capabilities to free them from the usual constraints of scheduling and ratings, and allowing them to focus on finding and creating quality content tailored to their wide range of viewers. Again, it’s a new approach to raking in the bucks for business, that absolutely pays off for the viewer.

    As ideas go, putting people at the center of any brand endeavor, digital or not, may seem more common sense than mind-blowing. But with brands and businesses properly putting their weight behind the effort, it appears we humans can only win.

    Claire Falloon is a Senior Consultant in Verbal Identity for Interbrand.

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  • Posted by: Jerome McDonnell and Ilan Beesen on Wednesday, April 17 2013 01:09 PM | Comments (0)


    Spearheading a Stronger Brand

    Thanks a billion: Making names pay

    Words are free. Well, they start out free, anyway. When developing a new name for a product, service, or business, it's easy to window-shop, imagining how your brand might look wearing this word or that. Then the search gets serious, and you spend time and creative effort to find ones that represent your business accurately. An investment in linguistic and validation research follows, and the ever-important trademark registration. At what point, exactly, does a word transform from a handful of letters into a valuable asset that's synonymous with the brand it represents?

    It takes time and investment to turn a word into a widely recognized brand, but it can pay off handsomely. Forbes noted that names can come to comprise a major portion of a business's total valuation: "'Google,' 'Walmart' and 'Microsoft'—all trademarked names—represent a significant chunk of their owners' overall worth." This means, potentially, billions of dollars.

    And the equity in a name goes beyond dollar signs. It has the power to inspire, to differentiate, to help your audiences understand that you're the right choice. It's a simple sound, a few syllables, yet it can have the power to move markets.

    Then: Then Again: Now:

    So how did the journey from "apple" to Apple™ happen? A word becomes a billion-dollar asset when iconic products are combined with concerted brand-building efforts. This special mixture yields value—a value that's captured in the name. As that value grows, so does the need to protect the name from misuse and outright piracy. Enter trademark legal.

    Brands and trademarks are often considered synonymous. They're related, but far from the same. You can register a trademark and not have a valuable brand, but it's impossible to build a valuable brand without owning its trademark.

    Trademarks are the quickest, most cost-effective way to ensure your name is exclusively yours. As every brand owner knows, differentiation is key. As the value of your brand and name grows, it's the power of the trademark that keeps would-be infringers at bay. For this reason, "the strength of its trademark defines the power of your brand."

    Owning a trademark doesn't guarantee your name or the brand behind it will become a billion-dollar asset. But it does provide the legal foundation on which you can build a free word into a prized aspect of your brand's identity.

    This week's guest authors are Jerome McDonnell, Global Trademark Director, and Ilan Beesen, Senior Consultant, Verbal Identity.

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