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Archive for July 2009

The power of branding: a practical guide

Posted Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

What do we mean by the word ‘brand’?

Design Council, updated 06 April 2009

The words brand and branding are thrown around liberally by all sorts of people in different contexts and with different meanings in mind, so it may help to start by asking ‘what exactly is a brand?’

The simplest answer is that a brand is a set of associations that a person (or group of people) makes with a company, product, service, individual or organisation. These associations may be intentional – that is, they may be actively promoted via marketing and corporate identity, for example – or they may be outside the company’s control. For example, a poor press review for a new product might ‘harm’ the product manufacturer’s overall brand by placing negative associations in people’s minds.

To illustrate the idea, let’s take what is arguably the best-known product – or brand – in the world: Coca-Cola.

Although essentially just a soft drinks product, Coca-Cola the drink is eclipsed by the sheer might of Coca-Cola the brand. This phenomenon is best summed up by the following quote from a Coca-Cola executive:

‘If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.’

In a 2007 survey of the value of global brands by branding agency Interbrand, Coca-Cola‘s brand equity was valued at US$65.3bn, just under half the company’s true market value.

So what are these all-powerful associations? For Coca-Cola, typical perceptions might be that it is the original cola drink (‘The Real Thing’), that its recipe is secret and unsurpassed, that it’s all-American or maybe global, that it’s youthful, energetic, refreshing and so on. Visual associations might include the unmistakable red and white logo and corporate colours, or the unique shape and tint of the original glass bottles.

These are mostly positive brand associations, but there may be negative ones too. For example, Coca-Cola may be seen as unhealthy, or as a symbol of global ‘imperialism’ by American brands. What is seen as a positive association to some may be unpleasant to others and negative perceptions could become attached to a brand‘s identity even if the company strives to present a different character.

Of course, brands aren’t limited to the food and drink category. If a brand is just a set of associations then practically anything could be said to have a brand, even individuals – think Simon Cowell or Gordon Ramsay.

Ramsay’s own brand is so strong, in fact, that in 2007 he leant his weight to a major advertising campaign by Gordon’s Gin. He was chosen not just because of his name, but because his association with a sense of quality and exclusivity mirrors the drinks manufacturer’s own brand values.

Other high-profile examples of recognised brands include JCB, British Airways, Tate, Yahoo, The Big Issue or even London. From services to cities, products to publications, each carries a strong set of associations in the minds of a large number of people.

What is branding?

If a brand results from a set of associations and perceptions in people’s minds, then branding is an attempt to harness, generate, influence and control these associations to help the business perform better. Any organisation can benefit enormously by creating a brand that presents the company as distinctive, trusted, exciting, reliable or whichever attributes are appropriate to that business.

While absolute control over a brand is not possible due to outside influences, intelligent use of design, advertising, marketing, service proposition, corporate culture and so on can all really help to generate associations in people’s minds that will benefit the organisation. In different industry sectors the audiences, competitors, delivery and service aspects of branding may differ, but the basic principle of being clear about what you stand for always applies.

For the full article see: http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/en/About-Design/Business-Essentials/The-power-of-branding-a-practical-guide/


How Running an Eco-friendly Business can Help You Reap Eco-nomic Rewards

Posted Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

American Express.com, July 15th 2009

The phrase going green continues to battle the stigma that being eco-friendly equates to costly tactics and extreme overhauls. There’s no doubt that some ‘green‘ endeavors can be costly, but there are just as many ways to embrace an environmentally sustainable outlook that put the ‘eco’ in ‘economic’ and are as easy on the bottom line as they are on the earth. Going green in the business realm is actually a good eco-nomic strategy.  Here are some tips for greening your business that can save you some green:

Send your employees home… to work.

Arguably the number one tactic in making your business green is to send your employees home to work. Telecommuting will save everyone gas money and will help lessen air pollution. It will also save a bundle in the day to day overhead expenses of running an office. A big bonus is that you may hire people from all over the world and expand the horizons of your business from your laptop. But, if an office setting is a must for your line of work, read on…

Run a tight ship at the office.

Extend the life of office supplies. Printer cartridges can be refilled and reused for a lesser cost than buying new ones, printers may be set to print double-sided. Dont print unnecessary materials, instead, implement electronic filing systems so you may eliminate the need for paper trails. Turn off the lights and all electronics every night, and use power saving settings wherever possible. Instead of equipping every individual with a slew of personal office supplies, designate an area where all supplies are available to everyone.

Buy secondhand furniture and refurbished office equipment.

Cruise sites such as Craigslist to decorate your office and outfit your workspace with the essentials. A general rule of thumb is to spend less on tables and desks, while opting for high-quality chairs. You can find refurbished Macs online as well.

Don’t be so PC.

Bid adieu to IT support and invest in the Mac mini. They’re energy efficient, and recyclable, which is good for the planet, and they aren’t peppered with technical issues like PC’s, so you won’t need to hire or pay for IT support for you and your team.

Just say no to takeout, and yes to potlucks.

One day a week, encourage employees to bring in one dish for everyone to share and have lunch potluck style. This will eliminate Styrofoam and plastic waste, encourage bonding among staff, and will save everyone some cash. On the topic of food, offer reusable mugs next to the coffee maker as opposed to pricey, disposable cups.  These five tips will get you off to a great, green start at the office. As you start living the eco-lifestyle, more inspiration will surely strike and you’ll continue to save money.


Claire Beale on Advertising: Whisper it, but it looks like we might survive

Posted Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

The Independent,  13th July 2009

Eavesdrop on any adland lunch table chat right now and you’ll find that confidence is creeping back onto the menu. We’ve hit recession‘s rock bottom and now we’re on the (slow) bounce. And it’s not just wishful thinking. We have facts.

OK… not facts exactly, but forecasts. And for an industry built on flimsy research, that’s good enough. A new report predicts that the ad industry will enjoy “mild global recovery” in 2010. Whisper it, but it looks like we might survive. Of course, this year will be a bloodbath. According to the new ZenithOptimedia study, worldwide advertising spend will slump by 8.5 per cent in 2009, and that’s worse than Zenith was predicting just a few months ago.

But the medium-term prognosis is better. By 2010 we’ll be revelling in a 1.6 per cent upturn. Yes, that’s 1.6 per cent against this year’s disastrous crash, but still we’re bottoming out. And 2011 is expected to be another 4.3 per cent up. It seems that although advertisers in the finance, automotive and business travel sectors slashed spend, retail and FMCG advertising (particularly at the value-for-money end of these markets) has held up better than expected.

But are we ready to capitalise on these first fragile signs of recovery?

Are we ready to remind the international advertising world that Britain is the place to come for first-class creative work, production facilities and strategic thinking? Some help driving that message home would be nice. Perhaps London‘s mayor Boris Johnson could take a lead from New York‘s Michael Bloomberg. Recognising the economic value of New York‘s communications businesses, he is on a mission to give his media industry all the help he can.

Here’s what Bloomberg‘s doing; listen up Boris. He’s launching a Media and Tech Fellowship to help fund new businesses and new innovations. Then he’s introducing tax exempt bonds to help companies invest in new technological, research and production facilities. He’s creating a New York City Media Lab to help the city’s businesses and universities collaborate on research and insight and to provide a space for lectures, debates and networking events.

There’s more. A new training programme will help equip people for jobs in new media, and in lower Manhattan, a building is being prepared as a centre for media freelancers, with workstations, conference space and news facilities. Bloomberg is now scouring the globe to encourage businesses in the communications industry to locate to New York.

It reminds me of a story I heard recently from a Canadian ad firm looking to expand into Europe. Should they choose Amsterdam or London for their HQ? In Amsterdam the city grandees threw a party to introduce the agency to other businesses there, prepared a bespoke start-up pack jammed with invaluable advice for a company new in town and pledged plenty of practical support if the agency decided to move in. The agency found no such welcome in London.

Amsterdam, you see, wants to be a global centre for creative excellence. So guess which city the agency chose for its European base, guess where it’s now creating jobs, spending money, making great advertising. Not London. Johnson’s office is apparently doing a sector analysis of all major industries in the capital so it can work out how best to support them. Hmm. And there have been a few mutterings from the Government about the need to push “Creative Britain“. But advertising and the wider creative industries need practical and financial support right now.

Britain is clinging to its reputation as one of the globe’s leading ad markets, and it’s still a hotbed of talent, innovation and creative excellence. But with our rivals upping their pitch, our grip is slipping. Without more government support, our little green shoots will remain just that while the world’s other leading ad markets invest their way to recovery.

Best in Show: Hula Hoops (Publicis)
Often the best ads are the ones that take a real brand truth and do something funny or surprising with it. Take Hula Hoops. Don’t deny you do that thing of putting them on your fingers.

Well, now Hula Hoops’ ad agency, Publicis, has launched a campaign showing people doing just that, and turning their Hoops into little puppets. In one ad these puppets are the Village People, dancing to YMCA, in another they are a DJ with a mixing deck. Make your own Hoop puppet film, post it on the website and try to win a trip to Hollywood. Or you could just eat them.


Tips for Making a Fortune from Selling Your Business

Posted Friday, July 10th, 2009

FT.com, June 10th 2006

‘You must know you’re own business inside out because all buyers crave information – know your business well and represent it accurately.’ Marcus Markou of BusinessesForSale.com

‘Most private businesses are not run for profit, they are cash-driven. Businesses are typically sold and valued on multiples of profit. Private businesses may need to be restructured to sell for the best valuation.’ Howard Leigh, director of Cavendish Corporate Finance

‘Recognise that often a trade sell isn’t a clean exit – management may be locked into the company for 6 months to 3 years and some portion of the money isn’t paid until completion. Plan for when you want to sell accordingly.’ Steve Batch of Ventura Business Brokers

‘Must haves: Absolute self-belief, focus, drive and determination.’ Andrew Morris of HSBC Private Bank

‘In creative businesses, where human capital is relativelymore important than in other industries, the crafting of contracts is a core skill for retaining people.’ Professor Chris Higson of London Business School


 
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