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  • Posted by: Laura Tarbox on Monday, October 28 2013 01:22 PM | Comments (0)


    They say "knowledge is power," but in Zoopla’s case it really is. The property search brand that lets home-hunters (or just nosy neighbours) get the inside scoop on houses across the UK and beyond has just launched a new integrated marketing campaign called "Smart Knows," which aims to demonstrate the power of its website in helping potential buyers make smarter decisions.

    However, the really clever part lies in the brand’s characterisation of the very concept of "smart." Rather than focus on the property market and the comparative benefits of Zoopla, the brand shifts the spotlight onto bold characterisations of what they think constitutes a "smart" searcher.

    The effect is incredibly provocative. Intelligence is a cornerstone of the human ego, and acceptance and recognition from others are basic human needs. With headlines like "Smart searches on the move" and "Smart unlocks the mysteries of the neighbourhood," the ads challenge beholders to recognise themselves in it, and instil an element of self-satisfaction in those who do.

    Indeed, what’s really nice about these characterisations and the sentiment of the whole campaign is that in many instances the idea transcends just property – in the 21st century, smart really does "do" on the move; it really does do its research.

    It’s a powerful idea, and one that we're glad to see Zoopla capitalise on. Here, the brand’s implied proposition of "smarter property search" burrows its way into its very fibre. It’s no longer a laundry list of customer benefits, but part of their very DNA. And, indeed, if Zoopla is as smart as it says it is, then surely it has as much right to a point of view as the rest of us. After all, smart is as smart does.

    Laura Tarbox is a Consultant, Brand Strategy, at Interbrand London.

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  • Posted by: Alex Foss on Tuesday, September 3 2013 05:47 PM | Comments (0)

    The completion of the merger of Seamless and GrubHub was recently announced, and the combined organization will be known as GrubHub Seamless. Since the merger began, both food delivery companies expressed optimism for the benefits their combined technology and network of restaurants will bring. However, the new company will continue to operate as separate brands, despite its new name. It was very quick, but the new GrubHub Seamless president Jonathan Zabusky referred to the company in an interview as a portfolio of brands.

    Companies that enter into mergers and acquisitions often focus on the technical and financial aspects of the merger, while brand is considered after the fact. But the strategy that guides a union of brands can make or break a merger. Poorly advised or hasty integrations can destroy what made either brand valuable in the first place. Brand-driven decisions can help the new organization deliver lasting value.

    Several considerations may be underpinning GrubHub Seamless’ strategy to go forward as two brands:

    • A portfolio of brands can better serve distinct audiences and customer segments, such as residential diners and corporate accounts. Each brand also may have stronger affinity in certain geographic markets that might be compromised by merging the two. As Interbrand’s Darcy Newell wrote in her previous analysis of the merger, “If, in coming together, they try to be everything to all people, the new consolidated brand might lose its way, failing to be something special to anyone.” 
    • Keeping the brands separate can help the organization extend into new categories that a merged brand may not have permission to enter. While one brand may have solid associations with food, the other may be more of a vessel to extend to other services and categories. The way in which Seamless and GrubHub have expressed brand voice is an important determinant of that ability. 
    • Merging two cultures can be extremely difficult. Preserving the cultures of both companies can reduce friction and maintain amicable working environments for employees.

    These issues not withstanding, there are also compelling reasons to integrate the two brands in the future:

    • Only having to support one brand can lower overall marketing spend, as well as facilitate a clearer and more consistent message to the market. 
    • A company’s brand portfolio doesn’t have to reflect the company’s internal structure, but it does have implications for how customers interact with its offerings. GrubHub Seamless may be better able to deliver an integrated experience for their users and network of restaurants with one brand instead of two.
    • The combined brand could more effectively stave off competition, provided that the equity is transitioned and managed appropriately. The merger has already prompted competitive action with Yelp’s partnership with Eat24 and Delivery.com
    • Merging the brands and their names could signal unity to internal stakeholders and potential investors, as well as a shared vision and value set.

    The degree to which these considerations will apply to other merging companies will vary. But in all cases, the brand of the new company should have a strong strategic foundation that is rooted in the realities of the market. It will be interesting to watch how this company evolves.

    Alex Foss is an Associate Consultant, Brand Strategy at Interbrand San Francisco.

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  • Posted by: Kristen Selinger on Tuesday, February 19 2013 05:18 PM | Comments (0)

    Mergers are making headlines today with talk of US retailers and airlines coming together. News that OfficeMax and Office Depot are discussing a stock-for-stock deal between the two brands has shares up are up 25% and 16% respectively. Moody’s Investors Service says the merger between American Airlines and US Airways announced last week threatens the credit quality of US airports. The stakes are high for brands entering into mergers and can impact entire sectors. Digital Brand Management can help manage the merger process and manage its impact on a company’s most valuable asset – its brand.

    Brands contemplating or currently in the process of any merger, consolidation or other business combination are undoubtedly analyzing the impact of many elements including financial evaluations, tax considerations, operational processes, material contracts, real estate, technology, risk, organizational structure and change management. Most organizations do consider the effect a merger or similar transaction will have on its brand. It is vital that they also take a proactive approach to governing this change, communicating it internally and externally, and ensuring that the merging organizations capitalize on already developed assets.

    Kristen SelingerWhether following the transaction the brand will be a newly developed combination of the merging organizations or one organization will adopt the other’s identity, it is vital that this is communicated both within the organizations and externally in a thoughtful, efficient way. As the organizations team up to develop business together they will begin sharing marketing collateral and leveraging each other’s skills and expertise. However, this integration can be very difficult, costly and potentially detrimental to the brand if it is unclear what the identity is and where employees can go to learn about and execute the brand strategy.

    Providing a web based platform for marketers from both organizations that clearly articulates the new brand guidelines, strategy, identity, assets and templates that support it, prepares communications teams for the change. It enables brands to manage the process and reinforce the change both internally and in the external marketplace.

    The brand platform will become a one stop shopping experience for all things brand related. This will control and reduce costs, saving time spent recreating assets, clearly stating brand guidelines and expectations for implementing the new brand, training employees on the new brand strategy, policing the brand in the market and ensuring only brand approved collateral is utilized.

    Perhaps most importantly, a systemized portal will also demonstrate a commitment to the brand. Utilizing Digital Brand Management in managing merges will inspire the organization and partners to be participants in the development and governance of the new brand during the reorganization following the transaction when change must be managed carefully and effectively.

    Kristen Selinger is a Business Development Manager for BrandWizard.

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  • Posted by: Michael Benson on Monday, February 27 2012 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

    I had the pleasure, once again, of being a judge for the British Video Association Marketing Awards. Assessing marketing campaigns supporting the launch of titles on DVD and Blu-ray highlighted how innovative and effective they could have been. What struck me most is that more brand-focused thinking would certainly benefit the entertainment industry.

    There are unique challenges posed by the transient nature of the product (given the viewing experience) and the astonishingly short time that it has to become a success. Nonetheless, a small fraction of films launched have gone on to become lasting franchises, becoming brands that have extended beyond the viewing experience. It’s important food for thought for entertainment marketers, especially coming out of the movie awards season.

    Many campaigns are, sadly, an exercise of simply trying to place the title poster art in as many places as possible (online and offline), securing PR for the talent and throwing up website and Facebook pages for broadcast purposes that don’t really engage in dialogue. While much of this is driven by the need to push volume fast, it shouldn’t be an excuse for skipping rigorous thinking to make limited marketing budgets work harder. The problem: titles are not often thought of as brands to manage, but seats to fill and boxes to shift.

    What each title is and offers (the brand) needs to be clearly defined to identify effective connection moments and innovative ways to engage customers. This will also enable longer term brand building, especially as sequels and serialisation become a more common way to improve ROI. Some of the mega franchises like Star Wars and Harry Potter appear to have clearer values that guide what they do in the many different extensions of the brand. This keeps the magic alive in the hearts and minds of current fans and help attract new audiences.

    Tactically, some distributors are using customer insight to effectively position and communicate their titles. I saw smart launch promotions that put potential viewers in the shoes of the hero, and the use of documentary to astonish and create a new fascination of the subject even before you see the film. These built on the understanding of what will engage potential audiences in a way that builds the brand. I can’t tell you who won (to be announced in the coming weeks) but I can say that the standouts clearly used brand-centric thinking.

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  • Posted by: Graham Cox on Monday, February 20 2012 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

    In the City of London, £60,000 is spent every year to scare off pigeons from around Trafalgar Square, with the use of a Hawk. With the fabled British High Street strip of stores facing tough times, there’s a new flock that points the way to a brighter future.

    Obviously it’s not actually our feathered friends that can save the day, but a brand that has taken the bird as its mascot — Funkypigeon.com. Owned by British bookseller WHSmith, Funky Pigeon joined the high-street brigade by moving from the web to brick-and-mortar stores in 2011 as Smith’s saw profits rise across the business. It stands as a fantastic example of how the face of the high-street must and will change to survive. In truth it’s an evolution, dispelling the negativity that grips the media to concentrate on the opportunity before us.

    It’s not just a case of strong online brands moving on to the high-street. It is the innovation they can bring with them. Apple is a great example of a brand that truly expresses its values through its retail stores. As consumers we all want something different, something new and something of value. We also want to experience the brands that we build an emotional attachment to, as Apple expertly achieves with the layout of their stores. Consider the assistants that can process payments on the spot, within seconds of a product demonstration, and then provide theatre style educational classes, which are open to all, to inspire creative ways to use their software, apps and devices.Other examples of innovation in-store range from the most simple and accepted self-serve tills to the more tentative exploration like Topshop’s augmented reality mirror in Russia. Tesco’s even tried to bring their shops to the people with a virtual grocery store in South Korea. But what can we learn from all this?

    Fundamentally, it’s that businesses need to react to the times and ensure their brand sits at the heart of their organisation to drive innovation that is manifested on the high-street in a new and engaging way. This is the only way to keep consumers emotionally attached. Another good way of looking at this is to question how well some online brands would do if they moved into a high-street near you. The likes of Wiggle, Blurb and ASOS could redefine consumer expectations by delivering a brand experience in real life that has driven their success online. Running tracks and static swimming pools could replace shelves and hanging rails for Wiggle, while Blurb hold creative writing classes and print production sessions to educate their audience and help them build their attachment to the service and the brand.

    There are so many creative retail opportunities for brands to explore. The high-street will be back, bigger and better than before. We just need to remain eagle-eyed for what consumers want and how they want to relate with brands, both online and offline.

    Graham Cox is Senior New Business Manager, Interbrand London

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