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A regularly updated resource of information and news items.

Posts Tagged ‘Branding’

10 Branding and Marketing Trends for 2010

Posted Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Niels Bohr once noted that “prediction is very difficult, especially about the future,” but then he didn’t have access to predictive loyalty metrics. Happily, we do. And, as they measure the direction and velocity of consumer values 12 to 18 months in advance of the marketplace and consumer articulations of category needs and expectations, they identify future trends with uncanny accuracy.

BrandingStrategy, October 01 2009

Having examined these measures, we offer 10 trends for marketers for 2010 that will have direct consequences to the success – or failure – of next year’s branding and marketing efforts.

1) Value is the new black

Consumer spending, even on sale items, will continue to be replaced by a reason-to-buy at all. This spells trouble for brands with no authentic meaning, whether high-end or low.

2) Brands increasingly a surrogate for “value”

What makes goods and services valuable will increasingly be what’s wrapped up in the brand and what it stands for. Why J Crew instead of The Gap? J Crew stands for a new era in careful chic –being smart and stylish. The first family’s support of the brand doesn’t hurt either.

3) Brand differentiation is Brand Value

The unique meaning of a brand will increase in importance as generic features continue to plague the brand landscape. Awareness as a meaningful market force has long been obsolete, and differentiation will be critical for success –meaning sales and profitability.

4) “Because I Said So” is so over

Brand values can be established as a brand identity, but they must believably exist in the mind of the consumer. A brand can’t just say it stands for something and make it so. The consumer will decide, making it more important than ever for a brand to have measures of authenticity that will aid in brand differentiation and consumer engagement.

5) Consumer expectations are growing

Brands are barely keeping up with consumer expectations now. Every day consumers adopt and devour the latest technologies and innovations, and hunger for more. Smarter marketers will identify and capitalize on unmet expectations. Those brands that understand where the strongest expectations exist will be the brands that survive – and prosper.

6) Old tricks don’t work/won’t work anymore

In case your brand didn’t get the memo here it is -consumers are on to brands trying to play their emotions for profit. In the wake of the financial debacle of this past year, people are more aware then ever of the hollowness of bank ads that claim “we’re all in this together” when those same banks have rescinded their credit and turned their retirement plan into case studies. The same is true for insincere celebrity pairings: think Seinfeld & Microsoft or Tiger Woods & Buick. Celebrity values and brand values need to be in concert, like Tiger Woods & Accenture. That’s authenticity.

7) They won’t need to know you to love you

As the buying space becomes even more online-driven and international (and uncontrolled by brands and corporations), front-end awareness will become less important. A brand with the right street cred can go viral in days, with awareness following, not leading, the conversation. After all, everybody knows GM, but nobody’s buying their cars.

8) It’s not just buzz

Conversation and community is all; ebay thrives based on consumer feedback. If consumers trust the community, they will extend trust to the brand. Not just word of mouth, but the right word of mouth within the community. This means the coming of a new era of customer care.

9) They’re talking to each other before talking to the brand

Social Networking and exchange of information outside of the brand space will increase. Look for more websites using Facebook Connect to share information with the friends from those sites. More companies will become members of Linkedin. Twitter users will spend more money on the Internet than those who don’t tweet.

10) Engagement is not a fad; It’s the way today’s consumers do business

Marketers will come to accept that there are four engagement methods including Platform (TV; online), Context (Program; webpage), Message (Ad or Communication), and Experience (Store/Event). But there is only one objective for the future: Brand Engagement. Marketers will continue to realize that attaining real brand engagement is impossible using out-dated attitudinal models.

Accommodating these trends will require a paradigm change on the parts of some companies. But whether a brand does something about it or not, the future is where it’s going to spend the rest of its life. How long that life lasts is up to the brand, determined by how it responds to today’s reality.


Squeaky clean

Posted Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

BBC World Service, 22nd September 2009

Lots of people get very excited about this thing called “branding”. Flatfooted thinkers use the concept as though they thereby are granted great insights into the mysteries of business.

It’s easy to see why. After the serious business of thinking deep financial thoughts, you can do sexy things with branding : psychoanalyse brands, for example, or run focus groups about them.

You can even do that weird sort of reverse branding exercise that recruitment people used to specialise in. “If you were a car” they would ask, intently, “what sort of car would you be?” Abject nonsense.

Now I am not trying to undermine the value of brands themselves. Big brands are both powerful and very valuable to the companies that own them.

Branding (or sign-making) is an ancient game : witness the bushes signifying a mediaeval pub, or the barber’s pole (that means more than just a close shave in some parts of the world).

Inseparable: What makes me annoyed is when everybody gets the idea that brands can be dreamed up, advertised and made to happen, just like that. “What values do we want to attach to our new brand?” people ask at brainstorming sessions, before they pass some sort of brief to an advertising agency who’ll whip up some clever ideas.

Brands shouldn’t be bolt on attributes, like that. Brands should be virtues accruing to products and services over long experience of them by customers and consumers.

Real brands have lives of their own, and flourish because of it, not because somebody is spending millions face lifting them. The best brands are an implicit part of the experience of product, and are probably inseparable from it.

So the question for businesses to ask is not “How to we build a brand” but how do we make things that people really want to buy and value and pay more for?

How do we make our products real experiences for our users, so the brand and the things are intertwined ?

These thoughts are driven by this week’s programme from San Diego, California. I dropped in to a workaday industrial estate to listen to Gary Ridge, chief executive officer of a company called WD-40. You probably know the product in its distinctive blue and yellow cans, and you probably know how it starts off as a lubricant and then generates all kinds of other uses, most of which give the users the wonderful feeling that it’s their cleverness to spray on the WD-40, rather than the product’s versatility.

Acquisitions: That’s what I mean by branding: the product is so satisfying that people are constantly trying to think up new uses for it.

One women told the company she stops squirrels from climbing up the pole on which her bird feeder is placed by squirting it with WD-40.

The brand has a story attached. The death was announced earlier this year of John Barry, the man who took over the Rocket Chemical Company in 1969, when the main market for what became WD-40 was stopping space rockets corroding. He saw the potential of this water dispersant as an all-purpose lubricant, changed the name of the company to reflect the 39 unsuccessful attempts they had to find the magic formula that finally worked with mixture number 40, and built the brand.

What’s nice about WD-40 today is that the company under Gary Ridge still understands and respects that splendid tradition. Yes WD-40 is a wonder international brand, and understands itself. When Gary Ridge looks for acquisitions, they have to meet a difficult criterion … they have to over impress the user.

And that’s what I call branding.


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/


Mercedes Campaign Focuses on Image, Not Recession

Posted Friday, June 19th, 2009

Car companies like Hyundai and Ford have been showing solidarity with consumers recently, running ads promising that the companies will help them should they lose their jobs.

The New York Times, June 18th 2009

Mercedes-Benz USA is trying a different way to get customers to buy cars as it introduces its updated E-Class Series. The ad campaign for the midsize car, available as a sedan or a coupe, is the company’s biggest in two years, estimated at $75 million. It does not talk about great value or good deals. Instead, it focuses on the cars‘ technology and heritage, a somewhat standard approach for the brand.

“Everyone has that trigger that’s going to get them out there in the marketplace again, assuming that they have the means and they’re just choosing not to spend it,” said Alex Gellert, the chief executive of Merkley & Partners, part of the Omnicom Group, which created the Mercedes print and television ads.

The E-Class update is meant to turn around an alarming sales slide for Mercedes, which is owned by Daimler. Its United States sales have declined 28.7 percent this year from the same time in 2008, according to the company. May sales were even further off, falling 33.4 percent from May 2008. The United States turned in the worst showing of any geographic region in May.

Even given the sales challenge, Steve Cannon, the vice president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz USA, decided not to echo the recession-conscious marketing that other car manufacturers have used. Hyundai promised to help customers pay for their cars if they lost their jobs, an offer Ford and General Motors soon matched. A recent spate of ads for Honda‘s Insight described it as “designed and priced for us all.”

“I’d rather tell our brand story, our innovation story, our value story, than join the chorus of everyone else that’s screaming ‘sale’ – that’s about the only message that’s out there right now,” Mr. Cannon said. “Customers have told us, ‘we know there are deals out there,’ so just getting on television with an expensive media plan and shouting, ‘there’s a sale,’ they already know that.”

Although Mercedes wanted to avoid emphasizing sale prices, it did place the starting price for the cars at the end of each television spot and in the print ads. At $48,600, it is almost 9 percent less than the starting price for the last set of E-Class cars, from the 2003 model year. The ads give just the price, though, not the discount. “For Mercedes-Benz customers, $48,600 is a huge value story, and those people know it, so I don’t have to go out and say, ‘value, value’ — that’s not appropriate for our brand,” Mr. Cannon said. “The folks that are looking for a midsize luxury sedan kind of understand the price points.”

For his customers, “I think there’s a level of crisis fatigue and recession fatigue out there, marketing down to, ‘we feel your pain. We’re all in this together,’ versus, ‘this is who we are,’ ” Mr. Cannon said. “All the things that mattered to them before the recession, it still matters to them. But we have to work harder to break through, because the system has been shocked significantly.”


Grant Assisted design

Posted Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Are you interested in Design Assistance this year? You can apply for design assistance in the following areas:
Concept design
Product Design / development
Engineering design
CAD modelling and visualisation images
• Rapid Prototyping (FDM)
Website design and build
Graphic design
Branding and Marketing

If one or more of these could be of benefit to you please have a look at the full or part-funded options available to you below or call to discuss. Most of these are applicable for Midlands based enterprises:

Manufacturing Advisory Service Assist 1
MAS assists are 50% funded projects intended for all stages of the design process including rapid prototyping. They can’t be used for graphic design or marketing but can be used for websites in certain cases where it provides a link into the manufacturing/ordering process.
MAS allow a single 10 day assist or two 5 day assists per year.
http://www.mas-wm.org

Manufacturing Advisory Service Assist 2
MAS also offer a larger pot of 50% funded money (£5000-£15000) for large projects which will provide strategic change within a company. These projects need to be linked to manufacturing in some way with the aim of increasing jobs, sales, productivity etc within the company. It is open to any company within the west midlands. These projects are intended to be 10-30 days of work over approx 9 month period. Payment from the client would be required monthly.
http://www.mas-wm.org/www/servicesStrategicChange.htm

Advantage Proof of concept fund
This is a Fund for established start-up businesses in the west midlands. It is intended for innovation and product development providing 75% funding up to £30000.
All sectors considered but priority is given to advanced materials, healthcare, Energy, prototyping, transportation and digital media.
Money is paid to the company retrospectively based on invoices. The Fund is limited in the number of awards it can provide each month. Estimated application time – 6 weeks.
http://www.advantageproofofconcept.co.uk

LEGI Assist
Location: Coventry only (post code check req.)
Provides assistance to Start-up businesses – £500 grant to start business, business mentor, hot desk facilities etc.
Support for existing businesses – business coaches, support packages and a onetime grant of £2000, £1500 of which can be spent with us on consultancy services.
We are an approved LEGI supplier and can provide the consultancy services for businesses with less than 25 employees. The grant money can be spent with us on Product, graphic, or web design.
http://www.legicoventry.co.uk

Business Link assist
We are also registered as a business link west midlands supplier. Company’s involved with business link will have access to grants providing 50% or more match funding e.g.
• High Growth Programme – For pre-start and new starts that are going places. Average grant value £2,500.
• Diversification – breaking into new markets. Average grant value £9,000.
• European Regional Development Fund – variety of projects in objective 2 areas – grant value £5,000.
• Creative and Knowledge Industries – media, publishing, software, art.
• Access to Finance – help to raise money through loans, investment and major grants. Average grant value £2,500.
This is currently only within the West midlands but eventually we will be on the National Database of suppliers. Business link assists can be for websites, product design and development, and marketing.
http://www.businesslinkwm.co.uk

Innovation Networks
Innovation Networks provides grant support to West Midlands based SMEs who are innovating with a new product, process or service.
There are two grants available, a £10,000 Revenue Grant or a £15,000 Capital Grant. The grants are quick and easy to apply for. The simple application process normally takes no longer than 2 to 3 weeks.
Innovation Networks has just secured funding for a further 3 years and will be up and running in the near future.
http://2wm.co.uk/innovation-networks/


 
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