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Posts Tagged ‘products’

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 to… be innovative in the workplace

Posted Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Make innovation a priority

The Times, March 11th, 2009

1. “In this environment, innovation is a real challenge,” Penny de Valk, chief executive of the Institute of Leadership and Management, says. “We are seeing a number of organisations hunkering down.” Such behaviour is dangerous: companies that generate 80 per cent of their revenue from new products typically double their market capitalisation over a five-year period, she says.

Take risks and embrace failure

2. Ms de Valk defines innovation as “the successful exploitation of new ideas”. But to innovate requires many ideas that are unsuccessful. “You have to give people the freedom to fail and to fail fast,” she says. “That’s a real challenge in a risk-averse culture.”

Jaideep Prabhu, of the Judge Business School, Cambridge, says that the rule in pharmaceuticals – one in five molecules makes it to market – applies to other sectors. “Even then, one in three products is likely to fail after launch,” he says.

Eyes on the future

3. “Employees are so busy firefighting that they are blinkered,” Professor Prabhu says. “Step outside your situation and look to future opportunities and threats. Who will be your competitors and customers?” A study of internet banking in the United States looked at chief executives’ letters to shareholders between 1991 and 1995. Those with the highest percentage of sentences about the future introduced new technology the fastest. “What made you successful in the past is not going to make you successful in the future,” Ms de Valk says.

Foster creativity at all levels

4. Jonathan Feinstein, of the Yale School of Management and author of The Nature of Creative Development, says: “Put yourself in the position where ‘light-bulb moments’ can happen. Give people freedom to define their creative interests and help to explore them.” Matt Brittin, the UK country director for Google, says that 20 per cent of employees’ time is spent on individual projects. This practice enabled an engineer to notice that patterns in search terms could be used to track flu outbreaks. Ms de Valk says: “Don’t just create a ‘good ideas’ culture, but decide which ones to put resources behind.”

Break the rules

5. Tamsin Davies, the head of innovation for Fallon, an advertising agency, says: “Think outside categories and be subversive. A clash of genres makes for different ideas. For the Cadbury’s ‘eyebrows’ adverts we didn’t think about chocolate but about ‘what produces joy’.”

Collaborate across boundaries

6. Professor Feinstein says: “Get clients in a room with engineers or product managers.” Professor Prabhu advises getting divisions to compete: “Internal competition is a way of bringing the discipline of the market in-house.” Google involves users. Mr Brittin says: “Open-source software allows us to tap into a worldwide base of millions of software developers who help to improve the product.”

Think global

7. We are in a new “innovation world” where the US no longer dominates, John Kao, chairman of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation, writes in the Harvard Business Review. “High-tech start-ups can be ‘born global’ by availing themselves of talent, capital, R&D tax credits, regulatory relief and specialised facilities in such innovation hot-spots as Helsinki, Singapore and Shanghai.”

Act fast and keep refining

8. “We have a philosophy of trying to launch things early then get feedback,” Mr Brittin says. Although Google‘s search page may look the same, the company is constantly modifying its algorithms, he adds.

Cannibalise your own products

9. “Even when firms spot an opportunity, they may not seize it because it threatens the success of their own products and services,” Professor Prabhu says. Sony had the technical expertise to introduce MP3 players but was afraid of jeopardising the venerable Walkman, allowing Apple to get there first, he says, and Starbucks’ venture into the instant-coffee market exemplifies a company turning cannibal.

Be ambitious

10. Innovation should focus on “making the competition irrelevant”, Ms de Valk says. She credits Cirque du Soleil, the acrobatic troupe, with reinventing the circus. Google never wanted to be “just a search engine” but to “organise the web”, allowing it to apply its technology broadly, Mr Brittin says.

World-beating innovators

1. Team Obama: turned an outside candidate into a “national brand”

2. Google: Search engine

3. Hulu: Video-streaming website

4. Apple: IT company

5. Cisco Systems: Designer and supplier of networking technology

6. Intel: Producer of silicon chip microprocessors for computers

7. Pure Digital Technologies: Makes simple digital camcorders

8. WuXi PharmaTech: A Chinese pharmaceutical research company

9. Amazon: Online shopping store

10. Ideo: Design consultancy

Source: Fortune, March 2009


 
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