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  • Posted by: Interbrand on Friday, June 13 2014 04:00 PM | Comments (0)

    Interbrand Global CEO Jez Frampton was invited on CNN today to discuss the current marketing and branding efforts around the World Cup. Jez suggests that the successful sponsors will be the brands that show they care about Brazil as much as they care about football. Watch the interview above and connect with Jez on Twitter: @jezframpton 

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  • Posted by: Miriam Stone on Friday, September 27 2013 06:58 PM | Comments (0)

    The trend toward healthier fast food is officially here. This week, McDonald’s committed to asking value meal customers if they’d like a side salad, fruit or vegetable instead of fries, and Burger King announced it will be offering lower-fat French fries. In the quick-service space, the success of companies like Chipotle and Panera has paved the way for a growing crop of health-conscious brands. Which ones are starting to stand out from the pack? Here are our top picks, and what they’re doing right:

    Making it Manly
    New Jersey-based Muscle Maker Grill is carving out a niche with a clear target – men who want to look beefy, but not eat all that beef. Salads and fruit smoothies sit on the menu alongside protein shakes and dude-centric fare like the “Rocky Balboa Wrap.” Even the logo, a big red oval reminiscent of a boxing championship belt, stands out from the green, leafy visuals that typically dominate healthy menus.

    Muscle Maker Grill
    Muscle Maker grill offers dude-centric, health-conscious fare
    Image from www.sgw.com

    Making it Familiar
    As the flexitarian trend takes hold, people are looking for ways to go meatless without feeling like they’ve had to make a sacrifice. The all-vegan Veggie Grill taps into this desire by featuring vegetarian versions of familiar foods, such as the Carne Asada Burger and the Santa Fe Crispy Chickin’, which the LA times called “uncannily close to their carnivore cousins.” With a bold orange color palate and photos of overstuffed burgers that rival Burger King’s, Veggie Grill is a brand that lets you have it all.

    Veggie Grill 
    Veggie Grill makes vegan food look familiar and mouth-watering
    Image from Zagat.com

    Making it About More than Just Food
    What’s a salad chain with 20 locations in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast doing hosting a music festival for over 20,000 people? For Sweetgreen, it’s a natural extension of their brand, which has always been about connecting with people through food. From cultivating relationships with local farmers, to hosting block parties, to providing food education in schools, Sweetgreen is driven by their purpose. For this fast-food chain’s loyal customers, Sweetgreen is more than just healthy food—it’s a lifestyle.

    This year's Sweetlife festival, hosted by Sweetgreen, attracted more than 20,000 people
    Image from bizbash.com

    Have you noticed other restaurants building strong, differentiated brands in the healthy fast food space?

    Miriam Stone is Senior Consultant, Strategy at Interbrand San Francisco.

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  • Posted by: Kevin Perlmutter on Tuesday, October 16 2012 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

    The ANA Masters of Marketing Conference: It’s a time when we hear the thinking behind the work of some very well run brands. This past week, I had the pleasure of attending the conference and seeing some of the top leaders in marketing share the back-stories about their work and their lessons learned.

    Having just launched Interbrand's Best Global Brands 2012 report, it was interesting for me to see the high correlation between key themes that emerged during the conference and what Interbrand recently highlighted as the key drivers of today’s top brands. This year, Interbrand rallied around the key theme of humanity.

    “Today’s best brands are in touch with their own humanity and the humanity of others” according to Jez Frampton, Global Chief Executive of Interbrand. Humanity in brands takes many forms, ranging from what the brand does to serve society to how the brand relates to individual customers.

    Jim Farley, Group Vice President of Global Marketing, Sales and Service at Ford Motor Company talked about risk taking and forging human connections with consumers. Ford understands that people are now looking for more authentic brands, and Ford’s marketing objective is “to be the brand that the most average consumer connects with,” combined with an underdog mentality.


    The brand dedicates approximately 20% of its budget on pre-launch activity to build excitement with customers and through local dealer activity. Ford has seen its brand value increase over the past year by 6%. 

    Johnson & Johnson strives to care for the needs of society and the greater good. It is a business and brand that, despite some faltering in recent years, continues to work to put into action its core values documented in the brand's Credo. J&J aims to put patients, doctors and nurses at the top of the list of priorities, and it guides them to focus on social and societal issues like the need for Blood Donations and the need for more Registered Nurses.

    According to Kimberly Kadlec, Worldwide Vice President of Global Marketing, J&J is also shaking up the original 4 P’s: Price, Promotion, Product and Place. They are now orienting themselves around more human terms: Purpose, Presence, Partnerships and Proximity. In doing so they’ve launched bold marketing programs tapping into innovative uses of digital channels to closely connect with users of their consumer products. Thanks to these types of efforts, J&J continues to be a preferred brand, despite being plagued by product recalls and shortages, and has seen its brand value increase 8% in the past year.

    McDonald’s Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, Neil Golden, spoke about the success that his brand has had answering the call of those who were looking for healthier alternatives. Over the last few years, the brand has grown stronger by offering healthier menu options, including fresh apples in every Happy Meal for kids, and highlighting Favorites Under 400 – a selection of classic McDonald’s choices that have always been under 400 calories. Further, the brand continues to make the strategy of “Simple, Easy, Enjoyment” relevant in all markets that it serves. McDonald’s brand has had a healthy increase in value, up 13% in the past year.


    Shifting toward the individual, humanity can also take the form of creating differentiation with a profound consumer insight. Approximately 15 years ago, Mastercard understood that credit card purchases were not as much a financial transaction, but a priceless moment being created. They have consistently ran the Priceless campaign all around the world since that time, keeping it relevant to local markets and making evolutionary adjustments over time.

    According to Alfredo Gangotena, Chief Marketing Officer of Mastercard Worldwide, “When you go to heaven, it’s not what you take with you, it’s the experiences you’ve had.” He also praised the CMO’s he has succeeded for not bowing to temptation to change the campaign just because they were new to the job. Mastercard is a new entrant this year on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands, with a ranking of 94.

    Humanity is also about being pure. At Interbrand, we often talk about the need for companies to constantly nurture their brands to keep pace in a rapidly changing world. For some brands, that means finding their way back to who they really are when looking for revitalization.

    This was certainly true when listening to Alison Lewis, Senior Vice President of North America at Coca-Cola. She described how the number one ranked brand for 13 consecutive years has been focusing recently on revitalizing itself. They have rallied around a clear and simple idea: “Coke brings Joy.” To get back to iconic brand imagery and communications, the brand’s visual look was stripped back to its purest form and most foundational brand elements (red, the script typeface, the bottle contour, ribbon).


    Additionally, they’ve been focusing on digital as the first screen to create 1-to-1 relationships with customers. Through an evolved CRM program that is aimed to keep people constantly engaged in a web of online places that they frequent, Coke understands that true relationships can be formed with customers that are not just cap to cap. Coca-Cola saw its brand value rise 8% in the past year.

    Proctor & Gamble’s Global Marketing & Brand Building Officer, Marc Pritchard, highlighted an insight-centric approach when he spoke about the role of deeply understanding customers when developing marketing and advertising. He said that whenever a brand is performing poorly, he goes back to the brand’s launch. He looks at the original value proposition and the original creative, and then looks to see where it strayed off track.

    He also spoke about finding deep cultural insights through observational research to help drive creativity that connects with people though real relevance. The winning formula he said is “consumer insight plus creativity,” because “creativity plus humor, without insight, is worthless.”

    One example he spoke about is that diaper advertising for many years was about no leaks while toddlers crawled around, but P&G’s research revealed that everyone is happier after a good night sleep. So Pampers focused advertising on the benefit of dryness at night so everyone sleeps well. Pampers, P&G's number one selling brand in the world, was a new entrant this year to Best Global Brands 2012, raking at number 34 in brand value.


    This year’s ANA featured many impressive speakers presenting their brands’ great achievements, the risks that they have taken and the lessons that they’ve learned. We believe that it was their drive toward forging greater human connections to society and individuals that helped make the difference. These connections were powered by deep customer insights, one-to-one relationships through digital channels and building admiration by doing right for the community it serves. It was even better to see that these success stories also helped to increase brand value for all ranked presenters – a demonstration that brand is becoming a more powerful business asset for their companies.

    Kevin Perlmutter is Senior Director, Brand Strategy at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Lorna Fray on Thursday, August 16 2012 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

    Olympics Themed Happy Meals 

    Loving it

    So the fastest man on earth ate a McDonald’s wrap before winning the men’s 100 metre final in London, as well as in Beijing. This wouldn’t impress Michelle Obama, who teased Gabby Douglas for setting back the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” initiative by eating in McDonald’s after her Olympic victory.

    Mrs. Obama has her work cut out in persuading us all to ditch fast food. McDonald's has announced that sales in its four Olympic Park outlets exceeded expectations by more than 50% during the Olympics. By the end of the Paralympic Games, which is set to begin on August 29 and close on September 9, the chain expects to serve more than 1.75 million meals in these branches.

    One of these branches is the world’s largest, and busiest, fast food restaurant. The 3,000 sq ft restaurant has 20 tills and serves up to 1,200 customers an hour, making it more than ten times busier than an average McDonald's. While there's some downtime between the close of the Olympic Games and opening of the Paralympics, during its six week run, this location is poised to sell a fair number of British staple chips (fries).


    McDonald's London 2012 

    The world’s biggest fast food outlet

    Before the Olympics, McDonald’s stated its intention to give visitors “the best possible customer experience in a great environment.” Is this possible in such a huge restaurant?

    At lunchtime on its first day of trading, McDonald’s was doing what it does best – serving people quickly and courteously – but on a much bigger scale. At 12:45, customer queues stretched across the considerable floorspace – people were queuing for 15–20 minutes before placing their food order. By 1pm, the queues had doubled in length, stretching out the door. At the same time, nearby food stalls had no queues, or negligible ones.

    Among the predominant family demographic, the appeal of McDonald’s was in its familiarity and treats. As had been widely publicized, McDonald’s was the only outlet in the park selling chips. Others came out of curiosity – there is a definite sense of occasion in visiting the world’s largest fast food restaurant, particularly as it is a temporary building. Despite the queues and rising temperatures in the building, the mood was very jovial, with people taking pictures and chatting animatedly.

    The View from McDonald's 

    Brand ambassadors

    Anyone coming near the restaurant is greeted by smiling, friendly staff who are having the time of their lives. One of these is Bernard, from Scunthorpe in the East Midlands, who enthused, “I absolutely love it; I'm thrilled to be here and am having the best time.” Aside from the atmosphere in the park, down-to-earth Bernard was enjoying staying in a “very posh” central London hotel.

    All 1,800 restaurant staff at the Olympics have been handpicked for the event, based on customer recommendations and managers' feedback. This is a clever way to acknowledge and reward their best employees, while ensuring that customers receive the best service.

    McDonald’s is also clever in its situation and its offer. The largest branch is right next to the Olympic Stadium, London 2012 Megastore and the main park restrooms – all magnets for visitors. It has an upstairs terrace with the best views of the Olympic Park, apart from the ArcelorMittal Orbit tower, which charges a hefty entrance fee. And the extensive outdoor patio seating is well-placed for diners to make the most of the atmosphere in the park, whatever the weather.

    McDonald's Terrace

    Green restaurant for the green games

    In some ways this branch doesn’t feel like a McDonald’s – it is airy, largely wooden with natural lighting, and surrounded by banks of wildflowers. Frequent diners may quibble at the slimmed down menu on offer – with no coffee or apple pies and fewer choices in each food category. But newcomers may be swayed by the restaurant’s environmental contribution to “the greenest Games ever.” The restaurant is McDonald’s first sustainable outlet, with most of the building materials due for reuse or recycling after the Paralympic Games.

    Eating fast food in a centre of sporting excellence is a contradiction that has attracted much criticism in the press, and standing in long queues to eat fried food perhaps compounds this. But eating convenience food at sporting events is not a new phenomenon, or one that is likely to go away anytime soon. And McDonald’s is taking steps to “Inspire a generation” to be active – all Happy Meals toys at the park are Olympic mascots styled as athletes, and come with vouchers for free trial sessions in athletics, badminton, canoeing, gymnastics, football, swimming or martial arts. "Let's Move!" fans would, perhaps, approve.

    Green McDonald's 

    Lorna Fray is a writer and editor for Interbrand.




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  • Posted by: Karla Aspiras on Wednesday, July 25 2012 02:45 PM | Comments (0)
    McDonadld's & London 2012

    The Olympics’ opening day is fast approaching and the brand police are more stringent than ever as brand owners linger and abound, wanting to partake of the massive potential of marketing during the Olympics. However, if the brand is unable to land a sponsorship contract with the committee, then the brand owners might resort to ambush marketing tactics.

    One sponsor that has gained a lot of attention is McDonald's, because of the clause in its sponsorship contract for the Olympics that effectively prevents about 800 food retailers from selling chips within the Olympic Park. The Olympic committee has put measures in place to ensure that official Olympic sponsors have sufficient protection for their brands. But McDonald's monopoly on selling chips begs the question, how stringent can a brand owner be in policing its marks? Protection of a trademark is certainly a big benefit that an owner can monetize, but not to the point of abuse.

    From a fast-food giant's perspective, it is logical to be aggressive in the protection of a brand that it has invested so much time and resources on. Your brand is one of your most valuable assets.

    For a small business owner, it can be frustrating to be faced with a trademark infringement case when your intent was not to tread on someone else's brand. Rather, you fully believe that the brand that you have chosen for your goods and services represents you best without free loading on some other brand's recognition and goodwill.

    McDonald’s is certainly no stranger to enforcing their trademark rights and policing any potential misuse of their marks. A movie that comes to mind is Coming to America, which depicts a fictional interaction and friction between McDonald’s, and a tiny neighborhood burger joint "McDowell's." The owner of McDowell’s, Cleo was hounded by McDonald's because of alleged infringement of the McDonald's mark. Cleo McDowell attempts to dispel any confusion and points out subtle differences:

    "See, they're McDonald's...I'm McDowell's. They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs. They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick. We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, but their buns have sesame seeds. My buns have no seeds. "


    This argument of course doesn't fly. It is worth remembering that trademark infringement is not merely a mechanical evaluation of factors that can cause brand owners to claim use of their brands by another without license or authorization. The standard remains uniform throughout: confusion; but there are nuances involved and it is not always a black and white situation as the character Cleo naively puts it.

    Trademark law aims to protect consumers from being confused as to the source of a product or a service. But it also aims to protect brand owners from their investment into the development and protection of their brands. Ideally, these two are balanced, but "ideal" is not necessarily the real world.

    This drives the point home: the choice of a name for goods and services is a precarious matter. Brand strategy is not merely a matter of avoiding trademark infringement suits. It is just one aspect of brand strategy that must be taken into consideration. An overall brand strategy also considers a brand that the target markets responds to, and a brand that can represent the company's mission on a long term basis.

    Where do we then draw the line when brand protection treads the thin line between aggressive brand strategy and overzealous brand protection that borders on bullying?


    Karla Aspiras is a Trademark Analyst at Interbrand NY.

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