What we think

What we think

The tale of the brave bears | About country brand experience

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‘It was early in the morning and I was ready to departure to the Country of the Bears. Again I was going to delve into their forests which goes from the mountains to the sea. It wasn’t an unknown land for me, but this time was different. I would know not only new towns, but also more and new bears .

After several hours, I went deeper into the forest and slowly I arrived to the first bear‘s town. I noticed, when entering the city, that there was few office buildings (in the woods, animals also have this kind of urban areas), on the contrary, what I saw were factories. The first thought that came to my mind was… Bears are so tough, brave, and industrial workers.

That image, that perception, followed me throughout the journey. At a exquisite bar in the center of the town, I met one of the bears that wanted to know. With that bear, we kept a fairly fluid contact via messages in bottles… bottles that we use to find at the ‘sea of bottles with messages’, where only few of them are worthwhile.

 The meeting was casual, we were animal whith good references. The brave bear was also warm, respectful, friendly … and yes, with industrial spirit … and you could smell it in each and every grunt. We visited its village, full of bears (obvious) and open to the rest of animals of the forest… There was room to squirrels, rabbits and other less fierce animals. Even the bears games that they have downtown, which looked like silent monuments, represented their laconic, austere and silent spirit. Fond memories of that meeting will remain in my mind… forever!

I followed my way and got to my second meeting in anther city of bears (of course… this tale speaks of these animals) called “Mydragon“. Again, the industrial suburbs, deeper than in my first visit…  a more intense experience.  

I arrived to the cave of bears that were waiting for me … Anecdotal evidence: some of them wear rings as a bear‘s symbol and it looks like all of them have their hair cut with the same hairdresser ;-).

They showed their cave, their working environment, which, although creative, still smelt like a factory. I liked it!

With them I took the road to the last of my travel destinations in the Country of the Bears. From the mountain we went down to the sea. Forest trees were behind … We were at one of its beaches, actually we were at “the beach“. We ate, drank, shared experiences, that among animals of diverse species are often different, although none were distant.

The story continues and I remember it fondly…

What I learned from the bears

I believe that the first lesson is that there is a clear difference between emotion and representation. I mean, a meeting may be full of emotions, unique and unrepeatable, however it doesn’t need to be expressed and represented with great eloquence.

Bears are tough animals, workers and as the story says, they smell of industry… His character is somewhat dry and in some cases, even distant. But when you are with them, you may recognize their esteem, their closeness and the different way the have of expressing it.

The second lesson is that even this way of being is a differential characteristic. Many times, if not too many, it is thought that what it’s around us, to reach the depths of our being it has to touch our souls.  Particularly, to me, a Mercedes Benz does not touch my soul, although I think it would be an exciting experience.

In its hardness, in its brevity, its seriousness, its dry … bears, using their own way, generate emotions… and that is what makes the difference.

The third learning is that identity is rooted in values of belonging. Bears are proud of their forest and of being bears. For different reasons this is also true for other animals that are over this world, and we can learn from them (the bears I say).

We live talking about self-expression as an issue that is independent of the place where we live and the other animals with whom we share our lifes. Let us be what we are, neither more nor less … We have to know that each of us is different, live our-own experiences in our-own way… and if there is something that unites us, it would be the feeling of belonging in what was always ours.

Branding is an issue of, for and among animals… and I will be never tired of saying … New technologies, those that have developed and are eating many humans, can be tools to be better connected, to learn more (although more superficial), to find others of our species in remote places… but are just that, tools…

Things should return to its natural order … subjects first, objects well behind us!

The country brand experience

The last day I was with the bears, I participated in one of their events (great and for me very grateful, of course). During it, one of the key topic discussed was ‘Are bears good sellers? Do we have a clear differential attribute because we live inthe Country of the Bears?’

After a couple of weeks that I was thinking about these issues, let me share some thoughts:

  • We buy what the bears produce because of their seriousness, their brave and the smell of industry. Do not try to sell as squirrels because you will create uncertainty, confusion … The bears are bears and that is their greatest asset. Follow the recipe of your hearts and do not try to imitate others animals… please!
  •  If the Bears want to sell outside their forest, they must continue (also) being bears However, try to create empathy with the other animals to understand and talk with them in their own languages… This goes for any animal that wants to go to sell to other species
  •  I love and even I have a healthy envy for the pride that the bears show of their forest, the Bear Country. And this is another asset, not to go growling the benefits of the forest, but to put it as a recognized reference that makes them different and unique…
  •  It’s not a question of selling but buying, living our experience, participating and talking… The bears may be harsh and grumpy … but they are warm, emotional, friendly (when they wish… haha) and participatory.
And finally and I promise that I leave you in peace (this post has become very long)… Change bear by Basque and re-read the story! … Cheers!

Jam session I

By | Envisage, Identity, Staging, What we think | No Comments

Let’s see the results of co-writing in Webjam. The first instrumentalist is Cristian Saracco, editor of The Semantic Branding, where he shares his thoughts and trends about branding and business strategies. Cristian is also Director of Allegro 234 based in Madrid, Spain. The second instrumentalist is Julio Ferro, editor of Hey! It’s About Design and owner of Hey! Brand Design in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They’ve worked together and allowed them to ignite the spark between their two worlds in order to deliver differential solutions to both local and international renowned brands.

[C] I would like to humbly begin with a trend which in certain way has some kind of relation with Julios’s previous post: We are facing new ways of recognition and satisfaction, away from well-known trditional status symbols like luxury cars and expensive watches. The issue is to see who spend the most, who lives an unique experience, who has more presence online… And this excitement is not necessarily about traditional consumption patterns, but about status, about impression peers.

[J] The funny thing is that the word Design is closely associated to luxury goods as well. I mean, they sound like synonyms in the big cities around the world where you can see an incredible show off. A good example is Design Miami/Baselâ„¢. Design for zillionaires.

[C] There will be people who will pay € 10 to€ 350 for a bottle of water… They will show status to their peers because of the experience that they are living with a bottle spotted at the Emmys and MTV Awards. Bling H2O, a fashion accesory.


[J] Bling-Bling! And if you don’t have enough glitter, the alternative is to pimp your gadgets. You can give real gold to your iPhone or laptop that coast a fortune. Glitter is part of the environment of (posing) millonaires. Glam is back, but this time is real and worths too much money.


[C] It’s water!… It’s a 750 ml bottle embelished with Swaroski crystals… Functionally, we know what it is , emotionally, “a bottle that tells a lot about the person who is drinking from it”…. And behind the scene, another two big factor: It’s telling us a reality, it’s transparent, it’s telling us a story, “it’s not waht you have, it’s the experience you live”.

bling detalle

[J] Crystal clear. There’s a new sense and It’s a review over a traditional atribute of waters. I see coincidences between waters and parfumes. And several coincidences between the experience looking at their bottle designs. May I either drink Carolina Herrera or spray my face with Ty Nant? There’s also Kenzo water. Any ressemblance with Voss is “pure” coincidence.


[J] Going back to your comment about new ways of recognition I see really interesting the new design directions for such a basic product. Y Water has an amazing bottle designed by Yves Behar (One Laptop Per Child designer). It’s a “smart water” where form and content work really well IMHO.


This post is also published in Hey! It’s about design

Stay tuned…

A “call to action” idea

By | Blog, Envisage, Impactful Marketing | No Comments

When buying, for example a Volkswagen Phaeton, you can get to know what stage of the process it is going through, from manufacturing to transportation and delivery. In fact from your own PC you will be able to take a look at workers doing their job on your future vehicle.

When a meeting is relevant, the place where it will be held becomes a secondary issue, since it is possible to arrange a videoconference from the beach while enjoying the sun with your family, or even hold it on a Sunday afternoon, should the other party be in Hong Kong starting their labour week.

Not long ago, company’s information was reported, depending on the case, once a day, once a month, once every quarter or on a yearly basis. Today we have the possibility of checking, analyzing and deciding based on real-time online information.

Impatience can be appreciated in critical situations. In the past, wars lasted long periods of time. Unfortunately, today they have become another soap box opera-show we watch in our TV screens, and since we get horrified, on the other hand, we want a quick end, but on the other, we look forward to some action.

This can be understood as a change from a scarce to an over-information situation, which in many cases makes decision processes more difficult, and generates lack of confidence. Models applied today include more and more variables, and therefore become more complex. Besides, since all that data is on-line, such variables change every second.

All these make companies change from working with possible scenarios to probable strategic options. The key issue is to select the right information for our decision making process, so as to give chances to each one of the events that might take place. Contingency plans become a function of probability changes.

We have passed to live and go through our lives, relationships and businesses from black and white situations to ones in different shades of grey. Immediateness, endless options, over-information and diffuse boundaries in a way surpass our expectations, all of which makes us need some certainties to improve our life style.
It is possible that the most important issue for companies, regardless their size, location and sector they may belong to, is that the rules of the game have changed, and, in that sense, offer and demand go beyond their traditional boundaries.

No matter if the company’s current scope is global or not, there exists a global offer of similar products and services which certainly is, and a demand which is no longer round the corner. In fact our product may be attractive for a person living on the other side of the planet.

The range and variety of products that can therefore be offered is growing, and combinations thereof innovative. With the development of new financing tools, automotive companies have ceased to sell automobiles to start offering mobility. Furthermore, they have stopped being companies where products are bought to become selling companies.

Going on with the automobile sector, if we segmented audiences according to their values we would find out that Mercedes-Benz is a brand for people that “have accomplished their goals” whereas BMW is a brand for those who “are on their way to achieve them”. In the case of Mercedes-Benz, issues related to tradition have more incidences, whereas in BMW, accomplishing an objective is what matters.

On the other hand traditional boundaries of offer and demand are diffuse. Relationships are no longer linear from the producer to the final consumer.

If the product needs to reflect a certain degree of self-expression, such target will hardly be accomplished if the consumer is not involved in the creation, development and production processes.

In extreme situations, which can be appreciated in some Internet sites, customers are paid for participating in the development of a new service, therefore the customer becomes a supplier, the company becomes a client and all of them undertake multiple roles simultaneously.

For example, behind a company like Ikea there is not only a solid business model, but a clever idea: “to democratize the design”. The company has established a circular relationship with its customers:

  • The client selects those items of his interest from the product display area, taking note on where he will find them in the warehouse.
  • Then, this client, who has now turned into warehouse worker, looks for the product, takes it out of the shelves, puts it on a cart and goes towards the cash register.
  • At the cash register, he is both “customer and vendor”. He pays a price which indirectly discounts the amount that Ikea has paid to him for his work as an employee, also considering transportation and assembly of the final product.
  • At the cash registers the company has established the contact point “company-customer” as well as the Employee-Customer/Human Resources Department relationship”.

Once at home, the client turns into a worker again, carries out the finishing tasks and obtains the final product.
This way, IKEA has democratized the design offer. However this is not a company for everyone. It is basically addressed to an audience with a set of values such as freedom of choice, leisure time management, freedom, tolerance and imagination, among others.