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  • Posted by: Michael Mitchell on Tuesday, July 8 2014 01:09 PM | Comments (0)

    Michael Mitchell joined Interbrand’s Verbal Identity team in New York as a Creative Writer 4 years ago. His daily work with the Verbal team included a blend of copywriting, strategic messaging, tagline development, name generation, and more. Upon learning that he could take these skills and apply them internationally, he joined our global mobility program. Below, Michael answers a few questions about the program and his adopted city, Singapore.

    What initially led you to want to transfer to Singapore? What were you hoping to take away from the experience? 

    I wanted international business experience and cultural immersion. Interbrand has 30+ offices, so it seemed there would be plenty of opportunity to work abroad. As an English-speaking Verbal Identity consultant, I knew I would have to transfer to a market that worked primarily in my native language. In that regard, the Singapore office was an option. I'd already met two members of the Singapore team while at Interbrand Academy in Korea, so it felt perfect.  

     IB Singapore 

    Has anything been surprising to you about your new city?

    Singapore is on the equator, and it’s very hot—every day. So, the joke is that Singapore has the world’s best air conditioning, and it’s true! Every building you step into is ice cold. It’s impressive, and slightly scary.   

    What advice would you give to others who are interested in global mobility? 

    Do it. As I got on the Singapore Airlines flight leaving New York, I was unsure, intimtidated and frightened—and that’s how I knew I’d made the right decision. The business opportunity and cultural immersion has allowed me to grow, learn, and push myself in ways I never thought possible. Anyone who takes advantage of global mobility opportunities at Interbrand is bound to have an incredible, life-changing experience.  

    Singapore streets

    What do you like best about your new city? 

    Singapore is a sparkling melting pot. It’s modern and lush, with a wonderfully diverse population. And with all that human diversity comes an amazing variety of food—this is a playground for foodies!   

    What specific projects have you been able to work on? 

    The Singapore office services the entire Southeast Asia region. As a result, I’ve been able to do work for clients from Thailand, Indonesia, Brunnei, and Malaysia, as well as for Northern Asia brands from Japan, South Korea, and China. I was fortunate to be part projects in Sydney, Australia as well. The work has ranged from brand voice and messaging to tagline development and naming work. I also published a Verbal Identity article in a regional marketing magazine!   

    Singapore city view

    What is most valuable idea you have discovered thus far? 

    We’re all a lot more similar than we are different. I believe in market analysis, audience segmentation, and big data—but being immersed here has made me realize that, while cultures differ, people are people at the end of the day. The most successful brands know that. Brands that can tap into universal human themes and sentiment can thrive globally.   

    Singapore team     

    Michael Mitchell is a Creative Writer and Verbal Identity consultant working at Interbrand’s Singapore office. 


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  • Posted by: Thomas Chen on Wednesday, March 9 2011 09:35 AM | Comments (0)

    A few weeks ago, if you asked me to pinpoint the heart of Asia, I would probably tell you it is either Hong Kong or Singapore, given their economic importance to the region and convenient geographic locations. But now, a new campaign launched last month by the Taiwan Tourism Board is asking me to re-consider my answer. After all, the campaign’s theme, “Taiwan, the Heart of Asia” would have the world believe something else in 2011.

    In full disclosure, I am Taiwanese. So you might think I would know why Taiwan is the heart of Asia. Unfortunately, you’ll have to excuse me, because I am just as clueless as you—and the campaign does not really tell me much about it, either.

    The newly unveiled tourism campaign features a 30-second animation, dubbed with light-hearted music and no lyrics or voice-over. While the creative approach cuts through the media clutter, and is very different from those cheesy tourism ads full of beautiful yet undifferentiated scenes, it fails to articulate why Taiwan is now the new heart of Asia. Any good brand, tourism or otherwise, needs to give audiences a reason to believe, especially in today’s world, where credibility is the ultimate commodity.

    I must point out that the campaign is somewhat geared to western travelers. I ran the brand idea by my friends around the world, and unsurprisingly, most of my Asian friends, including those who were Taiwanese, tend to think it is a bit of a stretch for Taiwan to say it is the heart of Asia, while Westerners seem more open to it.

    For those who do know the region, the common belief is that Taiwan lacks the legitimacy to make this claim—not to mention the fact that some of Taiwan’s neighbor countries also make an effort to obtain the same position in the region (for example, the Philippines). In the end, the campaign underestimates the sophistication of travelers, who expect to understand the uniqueness of Taiwan and are looking for a good explanation as to why they should visit the island.

    Successful tourism branding is really about bringing out the most unique travel experience a destination has to offer. As a person who is from Taiwan, I sincerely hope Taiwan will become the heart of Asia. But before it comes true, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau needs to work harder to show the world the real charm of “Ilha Formosa*.”

    (*The historical name for Taiwan)

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  • Posted by: Ryan Chanatry on Wednesday, April 28 2010 06:21 PM | Comments (0)

    If your brand is making the effort to invest time and money in creating a presence across various social media channels, your investments are likely to be better served by ensuring that your activities in each channel are complementary but not aggregated or duplicative of each other.

    Aggregation does tend to make the super engaged tweeter’s life easier, as it allows the simultaneous broadcast of what they had for breakfast to all of their friends across their networks. This raises the question of why post the same identical thought to five different websites?  It then becomes likely that your group of friends, long lost elementary school pals, and Uncle Steve will all come across it multiple times.

    The same sense applies to brands. If you bombard your customer everywhere they turn with the same exact copy, they’ll remove you from at least one of the channels they find to be repetitive. Instead brands must be strategic in how they integrate social media alongside the more traditional advertising and marketing methods they are currently engaged in, and consider how to best deliver a consistent message in the most appropriate way for these new and different channels.

    Starbucks, the brand rated number one in the 2009 wetpaint / ALTIMETER study of Interbrand’s Most Valuable Brands, conducted the most socially engaged, smart, dimensionalized and integrated campaign in the U.S. last spring. While Starbucks had not traditionally undertaken much above-the-line advertising, it made the decision to launch a large newspaper, magazine, and billboard campaign in the U.S.

    At the same time, it used Twitter and Facebook to ask its fans to take pictures of the new billboards and be the first to post them back to the group. The print campaign, which emphasized the quality of Starbucks’ coffee over their competitors, was supported by a YouTube video series in which coffee experts discussed what was special about Starbucks’ quality. Additionally, it ran one television commercial, and then re-posted it online, resulting in a frenzy of Twitter activity and many additional viewings.

    Although it’s not clear what the campaign cost, it appears to have paid off. Q3 and Q4 earnings increased year over year and Starbucks’ stock price, which was hovering around US $13 before the campaign’s start, was up to US $23 by the end of 2009.

    You don’t need to have a venti-sized budget to create an integrated social media campaign. A small Singaporean diner, the garden slug, maintains a presence via its dual website/blog, a Facebook and Twitter account, and a Flickr page. The blog serves to reinforce the diner’s brand through a mixture of photography and humor. The Facebook and Twitter accounts, while a bit duplicative, serve as a means to interact with the diner’s fans, and the Flickr page has become a visually pleasing repository of the diner’s interesting dishes, staff and events. By nicely balancing activities between these channels and ensuring the brand’s personality comes across through each, the garden slug succeeds in dimensonalizing its message. 

    So how do you decide where to focus your communications, how to deliver your message in each channel, and how do they all work together to build big-picture brand value? The first step is to examine your channel strategy. For all but a few brands, you can’t and most likely don’t need to have a presence in every channel. How do you decide which channels to choose then? Here are a few areas to consider:

    • First things first: Is your primary web point of contact engaging and best in industry? If this (most likely your domain) isn’t doing its job now, you shouldn’t expand into social media until you get that right first.  
    • Know your audience: Where does your audience choose to spend time interacting online?
    • Focus your efforts: What will the primary purposes of your efforts be? Are you trying to build awareness? Helping consumers decide whether to purchase your products or services? Providing after sales support?
    • Setup for success: What do you sell? How does what you sell translate to each of the respective channels?
    • Active or passive?: How interactive do you need to be? Does your investment require near constant and interactive monitoring (Twitter), or can you use social media in a more passive way (YouTube)?
    • Be industry aware: What’s your industry’s state? Are you already playing social media catch-up?

    Once your channel strategy has been decided, determining how each channel will be used is key. This is most likely best done as a strategy exercise, triangulating your current above the line activities, with your proposed channel presence, and how you want to deliver your brand message in each channel. When crafting your brand message, you should consider the following:

    • Every good party has a theme: Do you have a common marketing theme that can thread both on and offline?
    • Make every word count: Is your message relevant and meaningful to your audience? What is the benefit it offers to your consumer? Promotional activity? Entertainment? Information?
    • Thread it through: Do your Twitter postings help to drive traffic to another marketing activity or provide an end benefit to your brand? An offline campaign can come alive online through Facebook or Myspace activities. A Flickr group can quickly become a fervent fan hangout with the right task.
    • Grounded in brand: Don’t lose site of your brand’s personality. In the rush to embrace the next greatest online medium, it can be easy to misstep and forget what your brand stands for. Just as insincere offline advertising can derail your efforts, not holding true to your values online might mean a quick trip to the YouTube hall of fame in the form of mockery or expose.
    • Too much of a good thing?: Be calculated about your messaging efforts. Many brands today oversell their offer, airlines it seems especially. If you really have something to say, consumers will listen, but not if you’ve already sent them three e-mails, 43 tweets, and five Facebook notifications.

    Social media can be a powerful tool to interact with your existing customers and reach out to the ones you’re courting. Ensuring that the channels you are using and the messages you are conveying are all synced is crucial to making the most of your digital platform. Whether you are at the top of Interbrand’s Best Global Brands ranking, or just starting out, the beauty of social media is its ability to level the playing field and provide you with instant access to consumers, for a fraction of what you might spend back out in the “real” world.

    This post is the 14th in a series called That’s Debatable: Social Media Edition – posts designed around oft-debated topics in our community, meant to spark conversation and gather different perspectives. Learn more about That’s Debatable, and take our social media survey, and join the debate on brandchannel.

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