We Compare All Brand Experiences to Just a Few Brands

Have you noticed the same handful of businesses lead every brand ranking, are mentioned repeatedly at conferences, and are consistently referenced in books and articles? One cannot escape testimonials to Apple, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Harley-Davidson, and Disney. It is if there are only a handful of successful brands on the planet.

Now it seems consumers believe that to be true. Wunderman and Penn Schoen Berland surveyed 2,000 people aged 18 to 65 in the US and the UK, and the findings were consistent across generations, geography and gender. Here is an amazing finding: 87% of US and 85% of UK consumers compare all brand experiences to those they consider the best, such as Netflix, Amazon and Starbucks.

That means when we pick up our dry cleaning, rent a bicycle, or buy a shirt we are judging the experience as compared to ordering a venti cappuccino from Starbucks or streaming Better Call Saul.

After working with tons of brands and consulting to agencies who work with an exponential number of brands I am confident I know what consumers truly want from brands. They demand a solution. A solution that makes their lives easier and more enjoyable. Netflix, Amazon and Starbucks do that.

All that other brand stuff involving authenticity, consistency, and transparency are in the next consideration set. Those considerations are important for sure but when you boil it down consumers consume. Sure, some vote with their wallets if a brand does bad or badly but we buy to satisfy our very selfish needs and wants.

Read more

Creativity: The Rituals and Routines

Recently my stepdaughter shared an article called Rise and Shine: The Daily Routines of History’s Most Creative Minds. She is entering the creative and competitive world of acting and writing in film and television. In sharing she could not help but note that I am well practiced in the routines of coffee, long walks, and inebriation (aren’t I the greatest influence?).

All family kidding aside, I struggle with the discipline and creativity required by writing. Writing is so much of what I do now. Branding and marketing requires conveying relevant and different ideas so I have always honed this talent. Now I am writing fiction and screenplays, as well as, ghostwriting for others. I like to think I am getting better at the craft but that does not mean it gets any easier.

Oliver Burkman’s article is a review of Mason Currey’s book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. In it Currey notes that Joyce Carol Oats worked the morning, took a big break and cranked up again in the evening. Anthony Trollope set the goal of 250-words per quarter-hour. Meanwhile, Friedrich Schiller could only write in the presence of the smell of rotting apples (for me it’s fermenting grapes).

I like background noise and always have. Since studying in high school and university, the tunes or television have been on. As I type this blog on my computer, one earbud is in place hooked to my tablet where Better Call Saul is in rotation.

Read more

Too Cool? Men’s Fashion Brand Naming

A fun day in my life was when I happened across the brand Scotch and Soda. Originally launched in the 80’s, the brand was revamped in 2001. My affection was, and is, for the name. If I had the gumption to start a clothing brand then “scotch and soda” would be a gutsy moniker I would be proud of.

Recently, I was surfing and shopping. You know, that time wasting trend of attempting to satisfy more complex needs through hollow and vacuous retail therapy. The activity turned out to be more rewarding and fulfilling than expected because of the men’s wear brand names I happened across.

Still, none of them made me buy more or switch my favourites. They did, however, catch my attention. Consider the first up: A Fish Named Fred. That name conjured a tinge of nostalgia for the John Cleese and Jamie-Lee Curtis movie. Overall, it was a foreshadowing of the extreme irreverence that these brands draw upon and strive for.

Then came ArboristBespoken and Cheap Monday. A tree trimmer, elite, and price sensitive offer all install different meanings. Next consider the brands called EmbellishFilling Pieces, and Fish N Chips. They sound like Michael Chabon or Irvine Welsh novels.

Read more

TV Spots that are Spot-On

Where are those loud pundits in the ad industry who forecasted the death of the 30 second television ad? Here we are and video in all forms is stronger than ever. Check out five notable recent ads of varying length and why we like them.

Costa Rica: PSA

Sometimes what you think is happening is not. This ad reminds us of a fact and balances the direction of our compassion. The dog is a great actor as well.

Notes: Take Note

This kind of thing has been done before (what hasn’t?), however, the execution is engaging. It also gets a bit uncomfortable. Not all is peaches and cream in life. Even with communications there is miscommunication and that is why this will stay with you for some time.

Read more

The Coming Difference in Brand Storytelling

“Thus I rediscovered what writers have always known and have told us again and again: books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told.” Novelist Umberto Eco was echoing (all pun intended) Charles Dickens who previously spoke of life as a “furious plagiarism”.

This addresses the fun conundrum of brand storytelling. If every story has already been told then how can a plagiarism differentiate a brand?

Of course, the answer is that stories differentiate in their execution. Protagonist and antagonist. Character archetypes and fables. Three acts. These notions are important but are not at the core. The answer for brands lies in relevant and fresh approaches. Ones that are not one-way narratives but a dialogue and experience that influence changes in thought and behavior.

In the old days ad gurus would say, “Do not sell the mattress, sell the sleep.” Coke does not sell beverages, it sells happiness. AirBnb promises you will live like a local rather than making a hotel room the destination.

Michael Shermer believes, “Humans are pattern-seeking story-telling animals, and we are quite adept at telling stories about patterns, whether they exist or not.” Storytelling in marketing is constantly debated. Yet, the fact remains a banner ad, a poster, a 30-second television ad all tell stories. If they don’t the consumer makes up their own. If they do it well, a consumer inserts themselves into the narrative.

Read more

What’s New in Storytelling

“Humans are pattern-seeking story-telling animals, and we are quite adept at telling stories about patterns, whether they exist or not.” So says Michael Shermer. Storytelling in marketing is constantly debated. Yet, the fact remains a banner ad, a 30-second television ad, a poster all tell stories. If they don’t the consumer makes up their own.

Here is a roundup of current thinking on the art and science of storytelling…

How Barbie is evolving its storytelling for the digital age

The Drum covers interviews Mattel’s chief content officer Catherine Balsam-Schwaber, to find out how the toymaker is evolving its approach to storytelling. We are living in a Barbie world.

How Equinox, Coca-Cola, American Express and Marcus use data for storytelling

This is topic worthy of further examination. Stories are only going to get more dynamic. Static tales may become a thing of the past. Brands need to recognize that.

Read more

Inspired Slope-side Design

Architects Peter Pichler and Pavol Mikolaycha have vision. They took a piece of land at 2,000m in the Italian Alps and decided to do something different. The Obereggen Mountain Hut appears to grow out of the hill.

Set next to the Oberholz cable station, the hut is a modern take on the classic Stube. Those structures dot mountain ranges in Europe and get the name from the living room or parlour … the heated part of a traditional farmhouse.

The Obereggen Mountain Hut is houses a restaurant and is split into three main sections. Each window on the end faces a different mountain. The building is entirely wood. Spruce was used for the structure and interior, larch for the facade, and oak for the furniture. A sunken design ensures ensures fabulous views. We applaud the ingenuity and year round utility.

Read more

Essential Branding Truisms

Through my career in branding I have joked, “If I had a nickel for every time I said, ‘a brand is not a logo’…”. Repetition may rankle and accuracy appear obvious but neither rob the statement of its truth. Check out these branding truisms and see if you agree…especially the last one.

 

Paying Homage to Brands…Irreverently

Since I have been in branding and that is not a short time, strategists and creatives have had fun with brands and the notion of branding. When not using branding to advance businesses, these folks find ways to mash things up or pay homage to the power of a brand … often with bizarre mixes of satire, irony and irreverent reverence. Consider the following ten creative takes:

Vino Logos

Thomas Ollivier actually did 99 of these. Brands as wine is a fine idea but the Tabasco variety would take some getting used to. We wonder what how the Uber wine would be described.

 

 

Well Heeled
After his Pepsi-Mondrian can, Italian designer Andrea Salamino explored the idea if brands were sneakers what would they look like? Works for us.

Read more

Simply Complex

Congratulations to our colleague, Rick Nason, on the publication of his new book, It’s Not Complicated. Thanks so much for the generous acknowledgment and for the quote in the book. We had fun reviewing it on Amazon…

Rick provides “a new way to think about business problems and issues”. This is explained throughout as understanding the difference between complicated and complex and embracing that difference. The complicated “can be separated and dealt with in a systematic and logical way” while the complex cannot be separated out…”there are no rules, algorithms”. The difference is profound but we have muddled the two words together even using them interchangeably.

The complicated can be codified with predictable and reproducible outcomes so success is well defined and often pre-ordained. Too many businesses and managers have become hooked on this construct because “Things that are complicated are well defined. They allow us to feel intelligent when we master them; they allow us to feel necessary; and perhaps most importantly, they allow us to feel that we are in control.” We crave order, love the predictability of patterns, and get a rush from solving the complicated. That is much easier than addressing the complex with its nonlinear nature, randomness, loss of control, and richly interconnected and interdependent holistic make-up.

Read more