How to raise the profile of the arts and create value for the cultural ecosystem: public, artists, patrons and employees, from the brand point of view.
Recently, with the Spanish saving banks reform we are attending the creation and deployment of new financial institution brands. What is the aim of these changes? Changing a name is actually quite different to changing a brand. Logos had changed, but what about the internal structure? Does it respond to a concrete strategy? A brand has its value; create a new one has costs.
The following chart shows a rough cost of each step supporting the change of a brand. Spanish financial system is known as one of the most serious in Europe. This consideration leads me to ask:
- Is such change indispensable? Considering the crisis, is this the right moment?
- Since it is not a legal obligation, was it necessary to change the brand? Couldn’t they think of umbrella brand systems, like ‘Star Alliance’?
- Does it communicate confidence to investors and clients? And to employees?
- Couldn’t be better to explain to clients the change from saving bank to bank instead of changing the brand?
- Is it possible to come together seven brands into a unique one? And the culture?
- With such names, can the enterprises expand all over the world?
Maybe saving banks had rushed too much. The new names are lacked of originality and/or rather similar, like Bankia, merger between seven saving banks, and Rankia, community of finance interested persons. Others didn’t thought either about the sense of the word they were going to use as a new name: existing brands, animal name, etc. being deep in a small crisis.
Now that the implementation of those brands has started, the aim for new bank entities and their communication department is to convince their stakeholders before to take the company public in a maximum of one year; they have to get renown
- Do you think they can do it?
- What do you think about the new brands?
- Do you consider it will have a positive effect on the bank business?
- How can new banks transmit this confidence that Spanish financial sector needs so much?
- Will they be influent in an international way? Is it possible?
‘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.
Arriving to the “IAmMyBrand’ trend, I presume that we arrive to a point of real discussion.
As some of you may know, I have a clear opinion regarding personal branding. This is that I’m against that concept:
- Brands and branding was and is developed to objects: We can work on improving certain identity and build its image
- We are subjects: We are what we are and that’s something difficult to change. We can only work on personal image
- To work on subjects cannot follow a pre-defined process: If we all follow a process to improve our image, we will arrive to the same point that companies did when they applied reengineering… A new standard without a clear differentiation between one individual and the others
- Instead that we are gregarious and want to be part of certain tribes, as persons, we are unique and that is part of our identity
However, as everybody is defining the personal image as personal branding, I’ll use those words 🙁
Trend #6: “IAmMyBrand’ Trend
‘IAmMyBrand’ trend is about building our own personal brands online.
As it was said on the Trendwatching 2010 report: “The online world has unlocked existing needs in entirely new ways. Humans’ deep need to be interesting to others, to be loved, admired, coveted, special, recognized, unique can now be satisfied by building attractive online profiles and presences, which, if successful, will attract friends, followers, if not a proper audience’
The relation with products and services that make us more interesting is based on what they do, say, who they connect to… and help us as a dress to improve our own image. This trend needs you to be:
- An empathetic person
- A person who knows and tell valuable things
- A person who is able to envisage the future (next minute or next century)
- A person who understand the new reciprocity business framework
Challenge #6: Brands are for objects, Image is for subjects
Due to our online presence, brands can pro-actively learn about people preferences. However, there is a huge challenge here and it hasn’t solved yet:
- As individuals we have our own preferences
- Those preferences are based on our own experiences
- Experiences are lived with different brands… Each of us has a unique sort of brand salad (e.g.: we expect that the retail experience that we had in Barnes & Noble, instead that we are in Carrefour… we want that our new car has the same kind of apps that we have in our iPhone…)
- Companies need to understand that the issue is not their competition, is the competitors that we have in our minds (and that would reflect in our online opinions about brand experiences)
- Brands are like prÃªt-Ã -porter dresses for our image
Brands and individuals are now managing their images across multiple platforms in this real “off and online’ world, with different messages, different images, to different tribes… with the same identity.
What do you think?
One of the deepest changes during this century has been that we have moved from a world split in real and virtual to one that could be described as offline and online… but always real. Now, there is little room for the virtual!
The effect of this new way of understanding our context has produced (also) a modification in our behaviors. In the online real world, the key is not longer to posses, but to allow that things flow. The new leader is not longer the one who has, it’s the one who becomes a master managing the flows… (Uoooppsss… I hope you understand this).
Finally, it’s relevant to recognize that after the homo-sapiens it came the homo-economicus… That’s what we are!… The homo-economicus is a special kind of bipolar individuos who is willing to belong and participate in a community (off & online) and, at the same time, feel unique and different to the rest of the tribe… Like my friend Dr. Jekyll.
Trend #5: Be real, off & online
Right now, almost 2 billion people are ‘on’, and for sure, almost all the young people are and enjoy their online lifes. And, BTW, the social events are generating more traffic/activity than the porn-sites.
For all of them, being actors or spectators, there isn’t a clear boundary between what it’s on and what it’s offline. For them, everything is real. Period.
In the online world (as well as in the offline) we can find:
- The Godfather: that person that is provoking and generating activities
- The Usual Suspects: those people who, independently of the contents, love to participate
- Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: those that sporadically participate and/or contact directly the authors of the activities and contents
- The Lord of the Rings: Those who participate in certain events that are driven by people of his/her ‘gang’
- Ghost: all that people who is paying attention to what’s going on, however, they only gives some evidence of their presence
This trend will evolve. Actually, it’s evolving. Each second, there are more people online, however, this situation doesn’t imply that there are neither more nor better conversations. Also, it is important to split the ones who are participating as actors in hubs & spokes of ideas.
So, as people are living in a real world, the meaning of this trend is that we are looking for the same kind of ‘functionalities’ in both online as well as offline experiences.
Challenge #5: brand experiences out of range
Brand experiences have to evolve by observation and anticipation. We, as people, have short scope radars, so, if brands are not close to us offering a dialogue in our ‘real’ world, they would be out of range.
Experiences will need to understand a new way of living, making thinks simple and forgetting the old paradigms of virtual and real world… It’s only real, off and online… but real!
Some brands already understood this shift and have begun to walk a new path:
- Lufthansa offering in-flight WiFi
- Givenchy launching ‘Play’ perfume
- Nike offering online ‘offline products’ customization
- Christies’ auction house (founded in 1759) has presence via RSS, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube…
- TruePower UCS understanding that other devises need energy…
Thoughts, comments… Want to talk?
Phantasy is based in two movements that are happening at the same time:
- People are taking distance from mass-media, mass production, mass-advertising, mass-whatever
- People are emphatically showing their opinions and thoughts in a more transparent and conversational mode
Trend #3: The ‘Phantasy’ of being demode
The observed result is that when people, companies, institution find themselves in a middle of a discussion, they use to answer in a traditional way that could be consider unreal… a ‘phantasy’… I know that I’m only showing one of the effects!
The real issue of this unreal situation is that people, giving their opinions, feel comfortable and enjoy this new power that they have obtained. There are no filters and/or obstacles from old institutions and corporations.
Challenge #3: Inclusive brand experiences
Brands need to evolve and their experiences have to be part of the people live experience. To do this, it’s simple (which doesn’t mean easy). We are talking about:
- Taboo adverse
- Having a real soul
Brand extensions will not be as we saw before. They will be as people want them to be… as a brand that gives something to improve their day-to-day experience.
Also, and this could be considered as ideological, what is false, must be done well… Seriously now, what I’m trying to say is that the story, the product, the promise should be good…
Examples to make this point clear (to see them, click on the images):
- Comme des Garcons released their ‘Series 6 Synthetics’ line, which is a range of perfumes based on unconventional materials. This Japanese creation is sold in London’s Dover St. Market. Actually, these are anti-perfurmes, however, as they have been honest telling people this story, they are a success
- Ticings: they offer decorative edible sheets of icing that quickly add modern design features to cakes, cookies, brownies and cupcakes. The taste of your cake it’s your problem… but, for sure, it will look so well 🙂
During the last couple of weeks we have read whatever you want regarding the Tiger Woods -TW, Affair… A man who behaved as a depredator tiger, visiting an excesive number of woods 🙂
Instead that I do not believe in the “conditional perfect tense” (it’s an ontological issue) the question is:
- What would with Exxon have been happened if they had used TW in their old advertising?
- Could TW have been or will be a reference for certain brand extensions? (e.g.: Burberry’s)
- What if TW had been the CEO of one of the sponsoring companies?
Are they serious about…
In certain way, all this affair looks bizarre…
- Some sponsors are saying goodbye to TW… Questions:
- TW had a car accident… And due to this accident we all discovered that he has a good number of lovers… LOL! (up today, I did not understand the correlation)
- TW’s wife behaved as a naif person who didn’t realize that his husband had several (not one!) lovers… And in Xmas thanked him because of his US$ 300m present… LOL again!… This is unbelievable in the US, Spain, Congo or China… For God sake!
It wouldn’t be strange that in few week we hear that TW is going to go to the same clinic that Michael Douglas went….
And the basics?
Possibly, the main issue here is that in certain point somebody forgot a simple branding rule (I don’t know if inmutable…. I don’t think so!)… Try to avoid the relation of your brand with a person… I remeber that we were discussing about this issue some months ago in an Executive Program at UTDT… Here is the answer!
In the case of Accenture, the situation is a good evidence to learn about this issue… They had a great advertising campaign, however, they generated the confusion using the same person (TW) during several years… Did Accenture dilute its identity on behalf of TW ones?
Advertising has the objective of producing incomes in the short term, while branding has the objective of generating longlasting value in the long term… Understand?
The vertical line should have and arrow at its bottom 🙂
BTW… Where were or how should corporate responsibility be understood in this case?