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identity Archivos | Allegro 234

identity Archivos | Allegro 234

The tendentious Dr. Utterson | ‘Luxurious’ trend & Branding | Chapter 7

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Things have changed… The traditional definition of luxury is losing content. Luxury will be whatever you want it to be.

Luxury, in a certain way, is related to scarce resources, and they are becoming an individual issue, specially, if the person is desperate to be different and unique. Does this sound like something strange?

Now, there are infinite ways to be unique. The days of better, more expensive, bigger are in the past. So, the concept has changed 🙂

Trend #7: Luxurious

The key is not to discover what is luxurious now, but to define and/or create it.

It’s a question of paying attention to the way that people in their different tribes are showing their status attributes.

Remembering Trend #1 ““Status & Recognition, some triggers could be:

  • Green, eco, sustainable…
  • Information and experience sharing
  • Mastery in something
  • Online image

Challenge #7: Create a unique experience

The challenge is simple to describe and difficult to implement (good brains are required): Create, design and launch something different, knowing that you are toasting with champagne on the Titanic’s deck.

The present “luxurious level” will descend in the Maslow’s pyramid to the “needs level” for future generations.

Interesting… Financial Times Special Report: Business of Luxury

The tendentious Dr. Utterson | ‘IAmMyBrand’ trend & Branding | Chapter 6

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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 prêt-à-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?

The jam session II

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Here we are again!… Julio and myself…

[C] Generally, for what it’s important to us, we opted for products and services with brands that tell us something. A story that, I insist (sorry), is relavant for us.

[J] Every story needs a starting point, let’s say an excuse to open up the dialogue. Every brand needs a footprint to deliver tiny but strong clues and flexible enough to let the story grow during its life (and yours). Do you remember crests and flags history?. They were created to represent not a thing, but beliefs.

[C] What it’s being observed as a trend is that, rather than finding the best brand, we begin to see two or more brands together (those that are best for us), bringing a unique competence to the table, re-inventing a product and/or service. A new and unique experience that is blending the best of several worlds.

[J] You mean alliances. This is what we can see (visually) in co-branding: two brands that we already know (what they represent) with relevant experiencies gathered to deliver a bigger an differential one. 1+1=11 as Marty Neumeier uses to say.

[C] Let’s see some examples as the ones I saw in Trendwatching:

Starbucks Bosh Philips NiveaThis is more than the traditional co-branding (the one we see in our Visa-Bank-University or whatever). And again, it is important, unique, inspirational,… for the tribe that is passionated with those brands.
  • The Bosch/Starbucks experience is interesting because, behind the scene is Kraft with its Kraft’s Tassimo system. “Coffeehouse quality with our home comfort”
  • The Philips/Nivea experience transform the shaver in a massage system that soothe the face and… shave
[J] It’s not a question of attached logos. They point to make these couple arise as a third experience. It’s the result of what we understand they have in common based in their identities from the touchpoints they’ve built. So we can figure what’s going on.

  • Adidas /Goodyear trainers. Even if you’ve not seen the sneakers, you can understand they are talking about performance. And you can prefigure they are talking about races too. This let you imagine the rest of the world around these concepts: custom cars, sex, youth, adrenaline.
  • Reebok /KoolAid trainers. You tell me!! OK, may be the idea behind is to offer “flavors”, but that was the Apple iMac first gen story. What’s the experience this product is signaling?
Adidas Reebok

[C] The challenge is to understand the tribe, values and behaviours, that are associated to a brand, to thereafter find the right partner to reinvent the offer through the brand blending. For mass-market products/services which could go to different tribes. The key point is to discover the “intersection tribe”… people that believe in both brands.

[J] Tribes use brands as trading cards like in a show and share game. Each tribe member needs some badges to make her/him recognizable to their peers and brands are obliged to be interesting if they want to be part of the ritual. So brands have to build bigger and more relevant concepts. Logos are not enough.

[C] A particular case is the one that blends a product brand with a human being brand… Eg.: H&M and Madonna

[J] Mmm… Let me disagree a little with you. This is the classic “be like a star” ad trick . Consumers are not so easily deceived anymore. But there’s an example of a campaign using past and present icons (or human being brands) that Converse is launching mixing local with int’l stars like Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong or Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O. Additional regional icons include Ian Curtis (UK), Carlos Diez Diez (Spain), Jane Birkin (France), Nina Hagen (Germany), Kim, Jung Man (Korea), Cui Jian (China), Darren Cordeux (Australia), Jose Fernando Emilio (Mexico) and Sandro (Argentina).

converse leads

[C] Good point! Under the branding point of view, I do agree with you. However (Mmmmm, the God dammit “however” again is here!), as a social trend, those kind of “short time” messages are talking to a specific tribes… Back with H&M…

  • Karl Lagerfeld -2004
  • Stella McCartney -2005
  • Madonna -2007
  • Kylie Minogue -2007
  • Roberto Cavalli -2007

[C] Almost the same, however to a different tribe is MissX from Agent Provocateur with Kate Moss.

[J] OK, now I understand. The power of a signature or an ambassador who embodies not the brand but the tribe.

[C] Is this too much?… Or would you like to hear also the story of Japan Airlines and Toto’s washlets?… Again, it’s not money, is status, self-expression… sense & sensibility… Isn’t it?

Identity and image are not enough

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Considering brands as an experience and a concept that transmit identity, reputation and relationship between the company and its audiences, we face a reality where those elements will be more or less relevant according to the interests and needs of each public in particular:

  • If the audience consists of clients and customers, identity will be more relevant through image communication.
  • For shareholders, reputation will be more relevant when presenting the business value proposition as well as metrics of its performance.
  • When it comes to the company’s managers and employees the relationship between both audiences will prevail over identity and reputation.

In all cases, the brand is present. The change is the communicative relevance of the elements the company wants to convey.

During the last years, brands were created responding to an “industrial” reality which today seems to be far away, linear and, in some cases, limited.

Until not long ago, the company itself represented a system that kept a sometimes precautious relationship with its environment and which also admitted the existence of something farther and without a direct relationship with it: The Universe.

Today, company and system are two different things: Ikea is the company; the system involves vendors and customers.

The environment is an attractive part for the system, and therefore, it tries to attract it. Again, referring to Ikea, the environment is formed by potential customers, new designers or other companies whose offer is a complement to its own offer. The universe is represented by everything beyond the environment and which has no influence on the system and the company. However, due to the information available, both companies and universe are not unknown to each other.

Within the universe, attractive segments for the company also exist. They comply with the target of sharing values, possessing shared knowledge and going through similar experiences. They still need to be “properly introduced”, i.e. that communication is established.

Identity is shared by the system. The company’s brand begins to be associated to other brands in the system. As usual, all this involves many risks, but several opportunities as well.

The alumni of a Business School are a good example of this. People’s names and last names are a good representation of their identity. Adding a business school brand to yours conveys something else about that person. “John Smith” means something specific for those who know who he is.  “John Smith, MBA from INSEAD” means something else for those knowing who he is and for those who do not as well. Neither better nor worse: just different.

From a professional point of view, a brand becomes a guarantee in its environment. Within alumni’s community it works as a reference of values and features of shared identity.

Besides, some business schools are asking their alumni to get involved in the admission process of new students. Are they employees of the institution? No, but they certainly they are part of the system.

The company, as far as the construction of its identity is concerned, is a multidimensional system. It appears as a business and as representative of its products and services, it is managed according to the desired behaviour of strategic variables, both internal and external to the company, under the latter’s control though, and comes into existence from functional and emotional elements which build its value proposition.

Within the company, a shared identity is practical and emotionally valued, differentiates the organisation and creates a sense of belonging. To external audiences it means credibility and becomes its emotional difference.

Companies, being more than their business model, seek not only for results but also for a deep share of feelings. More than making profits, their aim is generating emotions, being ethical and conveying a personality of their own. This is called attitude.

This model of company requires a strong identity to create a credible and relevant image to their different audiences. Its attitude transcends the people who create and manage the business.

A shared identity is practical, it makes the Organisation a different one, it helps to create a sense of belonging, it conveys credibility and it makes the emotional difference

 

Jam session I

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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.

bling

[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.

pic1spic2s

[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.

Tynant212

[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.

ywater1
ywater2

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

Stay tuned…

Identity before image

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Identity comes before image, and is an intrinsic part of the institution. It is built on the grounds of history, traditions, and the present and desired future. Internal and external people are part of it. Identity is present in the corporation, in its products and in its services.

Image stands for and communicates such identity. Its major challenge is to maintain the coherence between the conveyed concepts, and the business model and the “idea into action” of the institution.

It is must to have consistency between identity and image in the long term to achieve better incomes and results, and build sustainable value.

Brand goes beyond an aesthetic matter, or a sum of specific events. Its origin is in the people who created the institution and is among those who share values and the idea. It is translated into a strategy, feeds the business value proposition, and generates a unique experience, emotionally relevant and functionally desirable.

Brands are for those people who interact with the company, since they are part of their business processes, belong to the organisation and manage its resources. Summing up, brands are relevant for the environment, unique for the system and admired by key audiences.

Identity vis-a-vis image

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At the time of studying the situation of each company regarding identity and image they can present one of five possible situations.

ImageIdentity

  • If the apparent identity and image are high (1), we face an institution which, after generating a consistent identity, has achieved an image aligned with its idea in action. It is an entity which shares values with its audiences and communicates them correctly. This includes cases that go from consumer goods, like Zara, to institutions like Karolinska Institutet.
  • If the company presents a strong identity which does not finally reflect a strong image (2), the latter possesses a great opportunity that so far has not been exploited. It is known, respected and understood, it generates likeness “¦.but it is not capable of creating a close relationship with its audiences. This might be the case of some Eastern Europe brands.
  • If both identity and image are low (3), we are in front of a commodity, and this could be a strategic option taken by the company
  • If image is high and identity isn’t (4), we are in front of Nabuco Donosor’s statue: a giant with mud feet. In the past we saw this type of giants and effects were devastating. We refer to cases like Enron and WorldCom, where an image was rapidly built without making sure whether a true identity was supporting it.
  • Finally, if both image and identity are average (5), we are in the “limbo”. The truth is that to overcome this situation two movements are required: first to finish building a strong identity and then do something about the image. Many companies are in this situation, mainly due to the following two reasons:
    • It is a comfort area, since not much may happen in the short run, but if certain factors are taken into account, such as change speed, broke inertia, perfect competition and higher demands of audiences (which eventually will all become clients) a problem is beginning to appear.
    • Resignation. We have lived and grown with the paradigm of being the best. Being the runner-up is no good. This statement is tricky, since you can accomplish being the best in the world in something, the best of the region in something else and customers may finally purchase products and services from the best in the neighbourhood, because it is precisely the latter the one they share their values with.

Identity and image are different concepts; however at the time of building a brand, in many cases image has received more attention than identity. Success lies on the fact of image and identity walking hand in hand, in that what one stands for, is what the other one really conveys.