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  • Posted by: Liesje Hodgson and Forest Young on Tuesday, September 9 2014 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

    As the media and behavior landscape evolves to include connected physical, digital, and social experiences, brands and businesses must understand how to meaningfully adapt to create value. This means a willingness to get out of the way when the brand isn't relevant, and a readiness to take center stage in moments that matter.

    To consistently exceed expectations, an organization must understand when and how to best support the customer in key interactions, regardless of industry or instance.

    This requires more than a shared language of how the brand looks, feels, and behaves. It requires tools, methods, operations and frameworks for making technology, partnership, and product decisions that places customers, and their needs, at the center. We work with teams to ensure that the products and services which customers touch are meaningful components of a broader brand experience. Watch the videos below for a sense of how we view the role of brand in delivering customer experiences.

    We partner with our clients to drive a unified vision for customer experience across teams and business units—and help them prioritize the interactions that can impact their relationship with customers and broader stakeholders. By defining what a relevant brand experience design is, we help organizations to make technology, partnership, and product decisions with an understanding of how they will shape the customer's relationship with the brand over time.

    Liesje Hodgson is a Senior Consultant of Innovation at Interbrand’s New York office. You can follow her on Twitter at @liesjeh.

    Forest Young is a Creative Director in Interbrand’s New York office. You can follow him on Twitter @ten_ten.

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  • Posted by: Nicole Diamant on Thursday, July 31 2014 11:29 AM | Comments (0)
    WOBI

    Image: © Kreg Holt for WOBI

    According to strategy expert Rita Gunther McGrath, the competitive advantage is dead. Any edge your brand has over another will be trumped faster and more furiously than ever before. And in fact, most of the speakers at the WOBI on Innovation conference focused on these disrupters: brands that emerge, seemingly out of nowhere, and shake up a category so dramatically that all others in its category must hustle to stay relevant.

    McGrath advises a new, nimble mindset as the best way to protect your brand from being edged out, including changing your thinking about innovation and also your business strategy. Incredible agility is now required when we consider our products, budgets, and even our own careers.  Innovation should be incorporated fully into our company, not as an “extra,” but as another cost of doing business. Products and ideas should be championed for as long as they are effective and then relinquished for improved solutions. And, as employees, we have to consistently and proactively shape and nurture our career paths.

    If the WOBI faculty is an indication of the future, then healthcare in particular must be alert to the patter of disrupters. Technology looming on the horizon could threaten many healthcare brands; however, getting educated about what’s happening at the leading-edge and being open to possibilities gives brands an opportunity to progress and position themselves as forward thinkers, whether that means partnering with “disruptive” consumer brands or refocusing their own R&D.

    What does the future hold?

    If we are to believe tech entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa, our future is going to be super cool and very scary all at the same time. We’ll start with the (now) ordinary but end up with the extraordinary—and a number of questions about our privacy and consumerism in general, will be raised. What happens to the pharmaceutical industry when we can print our own medications? Or to doctors when robots perform all our surgeries? Our phones will track everything our bodies do, from fitness to heart monitoring, to medication absorption. Global data is growing at a rate of 59 percent per year, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Pills will come with sensors; medicine for conditions like cancer will be personalized. We’ll print hearts and lungs and bionic hands. Devices and tattoos on our skin will store our health records, credit cards, and IDs. Robots will continue to advance in medicine and beyond, replacing pharmacists, delivery vehicles, factory workers, and more.

    How does a brand adapt?

    So how does a healthcare brand stay agile during this tumultuous time? CEO Mark Bertolini offered some insight into the direction Aetna is taking that is inspiring for anyone in healthcare today. Perhaps most importantly, Bertolini has shifted the company’s perception of its customer, its marketplace, and its role:

    “Healthcare is focused on curing disease, not creating highly functional human beings. Our goal should be highly functional humans because they are productive, economically viable, and therefore happy. That should be our definition of how a healthcare system works.”

    Not only is this aspirational, it’s practical. Between the ACA, new technology, and concierge medicine, healthcare is more patient-centric than ever. Consumers now have the tools to understand, monitor, and take an active role in their health like never before. Bertolini goes so far as to say that if the healthcare system is structured properly and built around the individual, traditional insurance won’t even be necessary. He sees three main transformative principles for staying ahead:

    1. Move towards consumer-centric digital tools that empower customers to take control of their healthcare
    2. Partner with doctors and hospitals to share incentives and keep people healthy
    3. Exact concierge level service for chronic patients that is high touch and high tech

    Bolster your brand

    There are no guarantees against disrupters—and they’re also not always a genuine threat. For every Uber or AirBnB there’s a Pets.com or LaserDisc. However, taking the whole landscape in account, it’s very clear that we’re entering a brave new world for healthcare. Therefore, understanding the strength of your brand in the marketplace and developing future strategies around that can help you adapt to the industry’s turbulent new normal. What shifts should you make to foster innovation and keep employees engaged? How can you push new products forward and disengage from those that have run their course? Can you adopt new technologies to better serve your consumers? We don’t know where the next disrupter will come from, or when it will emerge, but by recognizing changes in our industry, employing forward-thinking techniques, and adapting to consumer marketplace trends, we can set our brands up for success and longevity.

    Nicole Diamant is the Marketing Manager for InterbrandHealth. You can follow her on Twitter @NicoleDiamant.

    Interested in future-proofing your brand? Connect with InterbrandHealth here.

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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: Emily Grant on Thursday, February 14 2013 05:39 PM | Comments (0)
    Heifer International

    Heifer International is a global development organization that exists to help end poverty and hunger through creating sustainable programs in agriculture and livestock. This Valentine’s Day Heifer suggests alternatives gifts, such as “Give a flock of chicks to the sweetest chick you know” or “Give a dairy goat to the one that always gets your goat.”

    Gift givers can click on an animal icon on Heifer’s website and learn more about how that gift represents, as the site says, “a lasting, meaningful way for you to help.” Year round Heifer International provides individuals and families the ability to “pass on the gift” through the purchase of livestock given to those in developing countries. A growing portion of Heifer’s business celebrates the idea of ‘shared value’ and is increasingly driven by their corporate relationships.

    While we at Interbrand are committed to our core belief that “Brands have the power to change the world,” it's not every day that we get to see this mantra truly come to life. I recently had the fortunate opportunity to sit down with Heifer International, Danone and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to discuss how partnerships between organizations directly benefit their business goals and supply chains, featured in our Better Together video series. I also had the amazing opportunity to visit the Heifer International headquarters for the Corporate Partnership Summit, “Beyond the Bottom Line: Creating Shared Value Through Partnership.” It was a motivating, enlightened day to say the least.

    It’s no secret that consumers believe corporations have a direct responsibility in solving our world’s economic, social and environmental issues. What was astounding to me is the level of strategic thought, intention and commitment from corporations and partners like Heifer that’s being dedicated towards solving this shared value equation – that what’s good for business is also good for the world.

    A pioneer in the field of creating shared value ecosystems, Danone was present at the conference to share the success of their Direct Supply-Chain partnership with Heifer. Through this program, Danone is able to access and stabilize their needed milk production by creating cooperative farms, self help groups and other types of cooperative organizations that ultimately significantly improve the income and living conditions of smallholder farmers – 80% of Danone’s milk suppliers.

    The results are all that’s needed to know this is a model with lasting, transformative impact: nearly 2,400 farming families have participated in the cooperatives, with each family experiencing substantial gains in income, stability, food consumption, and overall well being. And this is just one of the many Heifer programs around the world.

    The day left me excited to be a part of this new frontier of enlightened thinking, and to know that corporations around the world are co-creating innovative solutions, along side organizations like Heifer, that use business strategy to end hunger and poverty. While the road ahead is an arduous one, the choice between profitability or social impact is diminishing, and we’re entering a world where simply synchronizing for sustainability creates transformative change.

    Emily Grant is an Associate Director, Brand Strategy for Interbrand.

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