• Posted by: Meghann Fraser on Thursday, July 24 2014 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

    How leading companies advance their business and brand by creating shared value  

    Canadian Tire Jumpstart

    The world now faces an increasingly complex set of challenges: growing income inequality, climate change, and food scarcity, to name just a few. While governments and NGOs continue their work in these areas, the corporate sector is now standing up to help address these issues, recognizing that the world is moving towards a new center of balance where societal impact is just as important as profits. Leading companies around the globe are acting to create meaningful change that not only advances business objectives and the world in a sustainable way, but also continually strengthens brand value. 

    However, a review CSR reports, even among leading Canadian companies, reveals that many organizations are simply going through the motions, either aiming for minimum targets for regulatory compliance or recasting standard business practices through a politically expedient lens. In both instances, these organizations are missing valuable opportunities to create positive social impact, enhance the long-term viability of their business, and share more compelling and differentiating stories with the marketplace. By shifting focus from compliance to creating shared value, these companies can strengthen both their business performance and brand.    

    What is Shared Value?  

    Shared value is the idea that a company can create measureable business value by addressing social issues that directly intersect with its business. The notion goes beyond philanthropy or sustainability efforts to identifying specific challenges that will grow the company’s profits while creating positive outcomes for society. Michael Porter and Michael Kramer, who coined the term, identified unique ways companies can create these shared value opportunities, including product innovation that focuses on societal benefits, efficiencies in the supply chain that reduce environmental impact, and supportive industry relationships in the communities where a company operates.    

    Many leading companies have realized the benefits of creating shared value, such as GE. Since launching its Ecomagination business in 2005, the company has earned over $105 billion in revenue from associated products and services. Focused on building innovative solutions for today’s environmental challenges, the Ecomagination business has grown at twice the rate of the rest of the company. Walmart has realized similar success with its own shared value initiatives. In its efforts to reduce product packaging and optimize delivery routes, Walmart has lowered its carbon emissions while saving $200 million in costs—a clear and dramatic example of redefining productivity in its value chain.    

    Shared Value and Brand Value  

    But beyond driving revenue and improving margin, shared value initiatives provide companies with the opportunity to build brand value. No matter what the goal—from enhancing employee clarity on the company’s purpose to differentiating the brand or improving perceived authenticity and relevance—creating shared value fortifies the attributes that strengthen B2B or B2C brands. The result is a brand better able to drive choice, enhance loyalty, and ultimately increase brand value.   

    Shared Value and Internal Clarity  

    A key tenet to any strong brand is an internal sense of clarity. After all, how can employees be responsible for delivering a brand they don’t understand? This includes being aligned with what the brand stands for—its purpose in the world—so they can engage fully and deliver on its promise. Studies show that companies enjoy significant benefits from highly engaged employees, and frequently see uplift in every business performance indicator: profitability +16 percent, productivity +18 percent, customer loyalty +12 percent, and quality +60 percent.    

    Canadian outdoor recreation outfitter, MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op), understands its purpose in the world (inspiring Canadians to be active outdoors) and motivates employees accordingly. But to fulfill its mission, MEC understands it must go beyond providing equipment and play a role in conserving the outdoor spaces where people use MEC’s gear. Through its involvement in local communities and outdoor industry associations, and its integrated business and sustainability strategy, MEC embodies shared value. It is building supportive industry clusters that create, develop, and innovate opportunities within its market, while ensuring employees understand the brand’s purpose.    

    Shared Value and Differentiation  

    Canada’s leading telecommunications brands have struggled to differentiate and drive consumer choice beyond price, but one brand stands out for making significant strides to separate itself from the pack. With the launch of Bell’s Let’s Talk initiative in 2010, the company has made progress to put an end to the stigma surrounding mental health by raising national awareness and committing $62 million in funding. While Let’s Talk is playing a vital role in bringing attention to one of the most widespread health issues in this country, it is also helping Bell engage with consumers in a more meaningful way—on the very devices they provide to them. This effort differentiates the brand in a way that has been proven to drive consumer choice and loyalty.  

    Shared Value and Authenticity  

    To convey authenticity effectively, a brand’s communications must consistently align with its actions. For instance, as Canadian financial services brands send messages of partnership and support to customers, consumer debt levels head to a forecasted all-time high in 2014— largely due to easy access to credit. One exception is National Bank.    

    With its ClearFacts initiative, National Bank provides consumers with a plethora of free advice to help Canadians make more sound financial decisions today and tomorrow. Guidance spans from how to best manage daily expenses, such as cell phone data usage, to longer-term considerations like buying a home and planning for retirement. By creating a service that supports the financial health of consumers, National Bank is strengthening its credibility and the authenticity of its brand.    

    Shared Value and Relevance  

    In Canada, childhood obesity is expected to have significant impact on industries such as healthcare and insurance, yet one brand taking on the issue represents a different sector altogether. In 2013, Canadian Tire launched a national advertising campaign bringing broader awareness to childhood obesity, encouraging parents and kids alike to embrace sport and outdoor activity to live better. Canadian Tire extends this effort far beyond ad campaigns by continuously supporting its Jumpstart initiative. Founded in 2005, Canadian Tire Jumpstart enables financially disadvantaged kids to participate in sports by helping to cover the cost of registration, equipment, and transportation. These cumulative efforts notably enhance the brand’s relevance with Canadians by driving interest and engagement in sport, and ultimately, health and well-being.      

    The concept of creating shared value is equally relevant to the non-profit sector. In focusing on new ways to partner, non-profit organizations along with their corporate sector donors are transforming traditional corporate philanthropy into shared value opportunities. One NGO taking on this approach is Plan Canada. “We’re finding more and more opportunities to engage with our corporate partners, moving beyond donations to engaging their employees more holistically,” says Paula Roberts, Executive Vice President, Marketing & Development at Plan Canada. Not only does this approach support Plan Canada’s work in various regions across the globe, but it also strengthens employee engagement levels within its corporate partner base, a proven metric to enhance both productivity and profitability within a business.    

    In creating shared value, these brands demonstrate the opportunity at hand: to be leading Corporate Citizens while strengthening their organizations’ bottom line and brand value. By stepping outside category norms, each has shown how doing what is beneficial for society can, in turn, be beneficial to the business and brand. As more companies move from compliance to embracing shared value in their strategic business planning, we will hopefully see an exciting evolution in category norms altogether. 

    Meghan Fraser is a Director of Strategy for Interbrand Canada. You can follow her on Twitter @meghannfraser.

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  • Posted by: Lindsay Beltzer on Wednesday, July 23 2014 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

    Josh Feldmeth, CEO Interbrand North America

    Josh Feldmeth has been named CEO of Interbrand North America.

    Congratulations to Josh Feldmeth who has been named CEO of Interbrand North America. Josh’s promotion comes after serving as CEO of Interbrand’s New York, San Francisco, and Toronto offices since 2013. He succeeds Lee Carpenter, who is leaving Interbrand after 12 years.   

    Since joining Interbrand in 2002, Feldmeth has led brand engagements for clients including UPS, AT&T, and GE, among many others. As a noted expert in branding and business consulting, media outlets such as CNBC, Bloomberg TV, Advertising Age, and Mashable have sought his expertise on hot topics such as J.C. Penney’s market bounce back, the “branding” of the Republican Party, the personal brand of Stephen Colbert, and more.   

    Discussing his promotion, Feldmeth said, “Interbrand has been my professional home for over a decade—and for a good reason. I believe in our service offerings, our commitment to clients and, and above all else, our people. This is an exciting time for our business. It's a moment of transition when, more than ever before, we have the opportunity to help clients drive meaningful innovation and create world-changing experiences.”   

    Josh Feldmeth, Lee Carpenter, and Jez Frampton

    CEO of Interbrand North America, Josh Feldmeth, standing with Interbrand's Global CEO, Jez Frampton, and Lee Carpenter.

    More on Josh’s appointment can be found in the official press release.

    Connect with Josh on Twitter @joshfeldmeth.




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  • Posted by: Bethany Kelsall on Monday, July 21 2014 06:05 PM | Comments (0)

    London Bridge

    After receiving the very exciting news that I had won a D&AD Best of Year Award, I received an equally exciting invitation to apply to a competition that Interbrand was running for D&AD winners. With a chance to win either a 1-month internship in the London office, or a 3-month internship with 2 months in London and 1 month in another European office, it sounded like an incredible opportunity to see more of the world and grow professionally.  

    Needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled when I learned I had won the competition and got the 3-month internship! I couldn’t wait to go to London and get acquainted with the creative and strategic minds at Interbrand.   

    Interbrand London office

    Interbrand's London office (Each of the meeting rooms are named after the street locations of different Interbrand offices).

    I started in London at the beginning of May—welcomed by “the queen” out on the terrace, no less! Now I am in my last week at the London office, and I can’t believe how the time has flown. Having an interest in branding and a desire to work in the industry, my experience at Interbrand has given me a taste of what it’s really like to work in this creative business.   

    The Queen

    "The Queen" on Interbrand London's terrace.

    My time here has been so memorable and I have learned so much. Even the building that houses the Interbrand office is rich with history—it was once a hotel where the people who would be boarding the Titanic stayed the night before their fateful voyage. London is a place steeped in history, which is fascinating—but what really made my experience here brilliant was my work with the design team and the amazing people I’ve met at Interband.   

    The design team embraced me as one of their own and got me directly involved in live projects as well as internal work for the company. In my first week, I took some photographs of the latest InEdit publication that the London office produces. You can see InEdit online here.  

    InEdit The Retail Issue    

    There is one project in particular that I have really been able to sink my teeth into and I have loved every minute! It involves the rebranding of a bank in Asia. I have been carrying out audits, researching the current brand identity, and working with other creatives and a strategy team on the rebrand.   

    Most recently, I have been exploring different territories for the brand and have designed initial design concepts for each territory, visually exploring the different directions the brand could take. I have been so pleased to have to chance to work on this project and I know the end result will be a great success. Having the opportunity to see a project from the very beginning stages through to the design process and being part of the team (attending meetings and being present for discussions with clients) have all been part of my real-world education.   

    Another educational perk at Interbrand are the incredible guest speakers. During my time in London, I’ve been fortunate to attend two talks and both were very inspiring and interesting. It was great to get the chance to listen to designer Jason Bruges, who creates bespoke interactive installations for a diverse range of clients, and Decoded, proponents of “digital enlightenment” strategy. Both talks opened up my understanding of the digital world and its creative possibilities.

    Interbrand London—what an experience it has been! But my internship adventure is not over yet. Next stop? Madrid!  

    I am extremely excited about the next chapter of this unfolding journey and can’t wait to experience more in yet another country. In London, I have loved it all—and I’m sure I will love Madrid just as much!  

    Bethany Kelsall is an intern with Interbrand in London and Madrid. You can follow her on Twitter @beth_kelsall.

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  • Posted by: John Breen on Wednesday, July 16 2014 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

    FDA word cloud

    The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a long-awaited draft guidance document for the development and assessment of proprietary drug names for prescription and non-prescription products. Regulatory decisions can sometimes impact the pharmaceutical industry in unpredictable ways, so this guidance is a welcome addition. But will these guidelines drive the industry toward greater consistency and predictability in proprietary name reviews?   

    Here are four key takeaways from InterbrandHealth’s analysis of the draft:   

    1. The FDA is instituting a number of criteria that can be objectively measured 

    One of the key challenges in naming research is that it produces few black and white results; we’re often forced to manage many shades of grey. Within the draft guidance document, the FDA aims to present more tangible metrics—pre-screening criteria, checklists, specific categories for its POCA tool (Phonetic and Orthographic Computer Analysis)—that should, in theory, result in greater standardization in the approach to name testing and therefore greater predictability in outcomes. The FDA also has provided its latest thinking on a number of topics that have created anxiety for our industry in the past, including brand modifiers and “dual proprietary names.” While some of these topics will still be assessed on a case-by-case basis, the draft guidance offers hope of greater consistency.   

    2. POCA plays a starring role in the guidance 

    When first released, the FDA’s POCA algorithm was viewed as one of many inputs to a name safety assessment. With the new draft guidance, the FDA is placing greater emphasis on the results of a POCA search than we have experienced to date. Now, the FDA has officially grouped POCA scores into three categories and is using these categories as the basis for a final safety evaluation. This is a bit of a departure for the FDA that certainly warrants monitoring.    

    The draft guidance document places greater emphasis on name similarity versus other contributing factors to medication errors than ever before. Many of the industry’s more practical arguments for why a proprietary name candidate will not be confused with an existing marketed drug in the real world—including differences in how products are actually prescribed, dispensed and administered—may no longer be persuasive. This is particularly true of names that score higher than 70 on POCA with an existing drug name. Despite differences in product characteristics, the FDA states that these highly similar names are at risk for confusion. At InterbrandHealth, we have found POCA to be a useful tool in prioritizing potential safety conflict. However, our experience also suggests that the results can range from inconsistent to confounding. So, it will be very interesting to see if POCA can, in fact, serve as a successful filtering tool.   

    3. The FDA is looking for more rigorous prescription simulation studies 

    The best practices summarized in the draft guidance for prescription simulation studies are similar to the FDA’s 2008 PDUFA Pilot Concept Paper. The FDA is requesting that at least 20 scenarios be included in a prescription simulation study, including marketed products. While this is feasible in a market research study, it will increase survey complexity. Applicants may need to rethink existing approaches and be prepared to invest more time and money to complete this “recommended” market research. 

    As noted earlier, over-the-counter (OTC) products fall under the draft guidance document, which implies that these sponsors may need to conduct more in-depth testing, including more prescription simulations.   

    4. There is no mention of Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) 

    Our final observation addresses not only what’s in the draft but also what’s missing. In the 2008 PDUFA Pilot Concept Paper, the FDA alluded to the importance of FMEA in a sponsor’s name safety assessment. In a significant departure from this earlier stance, FMEA is now completely omitted from the draft guidance document. While sponsors are not being asked to complete this analysis, we are curious to see whether the FDA will continue to conduct FMEA as part of its safety review for proprietary name candidates. Currently, it appears that the FDA is asking the industry to generate initial hypotheses for a review through its requested methods and then this data will be fed into the internal evaluation. InterbrandHealth envisions this could limit the voice of a sponsor in its attempt to present a rationale for proprietary name selection beyond the outcomes of the prescription simulation studies and POCA results.    

    In summary, the draft guidance offers greater clarity and the possibility of increased predictability, but it is too soon to know if the endpoints summarized in the document will “guarantee” an FDA approval of a proprietary name candidate. The removal of FMEA, while reducing subjectivity, is particularly surprising. However, it appears that through the launch of this guidance, the FDA is looking to the industry to help shape and standardize the process with a goal of creating greater certainty in outcomes, which is a positive step.   

    InterbrandHealth is currently submitting comments to the FDA regarding the draft guidance document, and we look forward to uncovering its implications as the guidance comes to life through our work.   

    John Breen is the Executive Director of Analytics for InterbrandHealth. Lillian Smith is an Analyst for InterbrandHealth.    

    For more information about the drug naming process or the FDA guidance document, connect with InterbrandHealth here.

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  • Posted by: Lindsay Beltzer on Tuesday, July 15 2014 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

    Orange Is the New Black cast

    When the critically acclaimed show (now Emmy-nominated) Orange Is the New Black premiered on Netflix last July, it broke new ground. More than proving that audiences are hungry for “binge worthy” content, it moved characters of diverse identities and cultural backgrounds from the periphery of television drama to center stage. 

    Beyond the show’s provocative storylines, the way Netflix has marketed the series has been equally compelling. Netflix has illustrated, once again, that the right marketing mix and choice of channels are only as powerful as the brand and stories behind them. 

    Netflix took traditional marketing by storm in New York City (where the story takes place) covering city buses, subway station platforms, and telephone posts with OITNB advertisements—even blanketing the entire front façade of a SoHo building with video advertisements. 

    In a more strategic—and cause-related—effort, Netflix partnered with member-shopping site Gilt.com and the non-profit organization, Dress for Success, to provide professional attire to disadvantaged women. Drawing inspiration from an OITNB episode when a rep from Dress for Success offers wardrobe advice to the inmates, the real-life partnership featured the OITNB cast posing in chic workwear, offered at Gilt’s discount designer prices. For every item it sold, an item was donated to Dress for Success. 

    Orange Is the New Black cast Dressed for Success

    Netflix and OITNB then partnered with the radio-streaming platform, Pandora. Instead of just streaming the show’s soundtrack, Netflix went a step further by curating individual character stations, giving listeners the chance to customize various character playlists. For example, Piper Chapman, the character at the center of OITNB, favors the avant-garde and gloomy sounds of artists such as Lana Del Rey, Billie Holiday, and Nada Surf. The result? An authentic and inspiring expression of a character sentenced to 15 months in a women’s federal prison, reflecting Piper’s distance from the privilege and comfort of her pre-prison Park Slope lifestyle. 

    While brands are continuing to crack the code on “native advertising,” Netflix & OITNB’s sponsored ad in The New York Times garnered plenty of positive attention. Integrating video and interactive charts, it leveraged the narrative and landscape of the show to open up a broader discussion about female incarceration in the U.S. According to Professor Mike McKean at Missouri School of Journalism, what set the piece apart from other native advertising campaigns is its quality. McKean says, “The likelihood of clicking away before you scroll down and read much content is a lot higher than the average piece of native content. This is not average.”   

    Orange Is the New Black NYT Netflix sponsored ad

    So, what can brands learn from the sum of Netflix’s efforts? 

    1. Strategic brand partnerships are a powerful way to extend the reach of your story.
    2. Smart use of platforms and channels hinge on the clarity and authenticity of a brand.
    3. Going against the grain can be a good thing. Strong brands aren’t afraid to take the lead, but always invite the consumer into the brand experience. 
    4. Content is still king: unearthing the core of your brand story and learning to tell it in ways that move and excite new audiences is vital to success. 

    From bringing characters of diverse walks of life into the mainstream, to placing bold bets on branded-content, OITNB has been a trailblazer in more ways than one. It has illuminated injustices and humanized the stereotyped as effectively as it’s won over countless viewers—and, for all its impact, it might just win an Emmy, too.       

    Lindsay Beltzer is a Senior Associate on Interbrand’s Global Marketing & Communications team. You can follow her on Twitter @LindsayBeltzer.


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