What Makes an Iconic Brand?

Brands are an accepted part of our daily lives. But some brands seem to transcend their product or service categories to become part of the popular culture. What distinguishes these iconic brands from the rest of the pack, and what can marketers learn from them?
In today’s world, brands are everywhere, a familiar part of daily life for most people. But a few brands, such as Coca-Cola, Nike, and McDonald’s, have set themselves apart. These brands have come to represent something more than a product or service. They are embedded in our culture and our consciousness. They are icons.
Iconic brands inspire an enduring form of affection that any marketer would want for his brand. But iconic status, which has traditionally been built over decades, is enjoyed by relatively few brands. What can we learn from these brand icons that might be useful to all brand marketers today? Read the full report by WWP :
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Restoring Confidence in Brands

Long before the crisis, a number of studies showed a growing lack of trust in business and their leaders,. For example, only ¼ of the public trust them. Further on, brand importance goes also steadily down. For example, brand loyalty today is only 9%, from 40% some years ago. The crisis also showed that the notion of “Powerless State” is a myth. Society is now pressing harder for a new “corporate social contract “ and the new issues for the businesses are endless, including: regulation, environment, unions, privacy, safety, off shoring, civil society, governments as owners, consumer activists, NGOs and others. How modern corporations and brands could respond to these strategic and organizational challenges, beyond simplistic CSR, “Green Wash” practices and the recently invented by brands concept of “social missions in the supermarket shelf? See more and contribute to the debate here.

 

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Rebranding Greece

Brand Greece certainly has a perception problem. While other EU countries have worse economic indicators regarding debt and fiscal discipline,  Greece  easily is considered Europe’s top laggard and a  prominent member in the PIGS club. Greeks are the ones that according to Eurostat are  working more harder in EU (30% more that the Germans and the others in the European North … not included the usual second unregistered job sometimes ) and are consider lazy !! So who to blame about that? The answer is ..Zorba, according to  Peter Economides, a prominent branding guru. Peter Economides is a Greek  brand strategist with a global perspective. Owner and founder of Felix BNI based in Athens, Peter is a former Executive Vice President and Worldwide Director of Client Services at global advertising agency McCann Erickson Worldwide and Head of Global Clients at TBWA\Worldwide. You can see the relevant slide presentation here and watch a  recent video  with his speech about ‘ Brand Greece’ and some other  big misconceptions here
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Brandkarma: an open reputation system for brands

Brandkarma is a new, open reputation system for brands designed to amplify ratings and suggestions to drive positive change.
Brandkarma looks at brands in a new light. How good are their Products, how well do they treat People, and how well do they look after the Planet?
For a brand to have good karma it needs to score well on all three Ps. It’s a simple approach to sustainability that everyone can engage with.
Brandkarma is open, democratic and transparent and we’re aiming to be a positive influence on brands. Besides rating them, users can make suggestions to improve a brand’s Product, People or Planet karma.
Interesting enough to see in the top 3 position in relevant rankings up to now one of our favorite, nice , brands : Patagonia. See more about Brandkarma here.

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Tribute to Steve

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What Brands are Doing to Our Brains?

Brands activating our left angular gyrus, left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex  or left orbitofrontal gyrus, ie systems  in our brain that are associated with the extraction of meaning, conceptual organization,  reward, etc could be  common topics in the  daily agenda of branding managers of  high-value brands in our  times.
Neurosciences have entered in a close engagement with marketing in search of the Holly Gray of Branding: finding  and controlling  our Buy  Button in the deep of our vast brain ocean with billions of connections.
But where are the ethical boundaries of such initiatives like  Neuromarketing and Brain Branding? Paradoxically, and contrary to what is believed by naïve observers and writers , in the last  decades the more the brands were growing  and flourishing the less  is the level of  human happiness and human satisfaction, in steady decline in the western world (see Easterlin Paradox).  We are not all aware but we are  living in the era of Branded…  Unhappiness, as I had analyzed in my  book Nice Capitalism. As Tim Kasser’s  (The High Price of Materialism) research shows, those who place a higher value on acquiring material goods  and brands, aren’t as happy as their less materialistic counterparts. He further provides evidence that such a behavior leads to low satisfaction, personality disorders and even antisocial behavior. And are the brands today that,
through advertising, are imposing our Value System  and Lifestyle.  But what is even more worrying is that brands , through overstimulation, invasion and manipulative techniques, could lead  individuals to  the dark sphere of depression. Depression will be the second larger killer after heart disease by 2020 and a contributor to coronary disease. Almost 15% of the population suffers severe depression  in the western world (more than 20 million Americans). Further on, it appears now  more and more in  the youth and not only in those around 40 years old. The mechanism that describes the secret path to depression in  our branded world is described in detailed in my book and is graphically presented in the illustration above (click to enlarge). As a scientist  with a long experience in marketing, I strongly believe that branding  should exist for the mutual  good of the individual and the business. And that good, ultimately, is to improve human satisfaction and human happiness and well – being. Those brands that are investing in the exploration of the ocean of  our brain connections should  return back to their true  and legal mission. In the opposite case the society has to  re – evaluate  their license to operate. What’s your opinion? Do you share the view that branding should have certain moral boundaries? Let’s start the discussion. 
Posted in Ethics, Forward Thinking, Happiness and Well-Being, Nice Brands | 2 Comments

Brands in search of a more enlightened form of capitalism?

 “Conventional capitalism is dying with yesterday’s industrial era model of growth in permanent decline. Increasingly, the advantage will cede to companies that practice a more enlightened form of business, paying more than just lip-service to environmental and social agendas. According to the Irish Times, that’s the central premise of Umair Haque’s thesis in his book which offers a blueprint for a better form of capitalism.
Capitalism, he says, is founded on the equation of creative destruction. The cornerstones of capitalism as we know it systematically and chronically undercount the costs of destruction and over-count the benefits of creation. The result is an oversupply of “bads” with too much economic destruction for too little creation. The sum of over-destruction and under-creation is the deep debt a society incurs. Umair Haque  is clarifying the goal of the 21st Century brand, which is to create what he calls “thick value”—value that matters, value that lasts and value that multiples, not the “thin value” of the 20th Century firm that is artificial and unsustainable, often gained through harm to or at the expense of people, communities or society. It is about making a positive difference in people’s lives, not merely having a differentiated product and brand. The New Capitalist Manifesto by Umair Haque is  also available at Amazon.
Posted in Books, Nice Brands, Nice Capitalism | 2 Comments

Towards the customer obsessed brand?

Welcome to the Age of the Customer and invest accordingly says Josh Bernoff  of Forrester Research , author of a new report titled “Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer”. According to the report, previous sources of dominance (ie  manufacturing, distribution, even information mastery ) are now just table stakes. This is the age of continuous disruption. Your relationship with customers is the only thing that enable you to survive that disruption. Companies must be more than customer focused, they must be customer obsessed. A customer obsessed company focuses its strategy, its energy, and its budget on processes that enhance knowledge of an engagement with customers, and prioritizes these over maintaining traditional competitive barriers. An interesting piece of work. Find more here.

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Restoring Confidence in Brands: What’s your Big Idea?

”Business (and brands ? ) is a necessary evil in society… only the worst sorts of people are involved” ,Plato,  the ancient Greek philosopher used to say.
Corporate power, accumulated by the “Arrogant Capitalism” of the inequalities, is dramatically deteriorating, also as a result of the economic crisis. “Disaster Capitalism”(see Naomi Klein’s latest book here) and the School of Chicago failed. Now  “Nice Capitalism” is wanted (see Costas Kataras latest book here). Long before the crisis, a number of studies showed a growing lack of trust in business and their leaders,. For example, only ¼ of the public trust them. Further on, brand importance goes also steadily down. For example, brand loyalty today is only 9%, from 40% some years ago. The crisis also showed that the notion of “Powerless State” is a myth. Society is now pressing harder for a new “corporate social contract “ and the new issues for the businesses are endless, including: regulation, environment, unions, privacy, safety, off shoring, civil society, governments as owners, consumer activists, NGOs and others. How modern corporations and brands could respond to these strategic and organizational challenges, beyond simplistic CSR, “Green Wash” practices and the recently invented by brands concept of “social missions in the supermarket shelf? . And this, at a moment where “shareholder value is growing increasingly irrelevant as government and society take a larger role in shaping business and industry. This blog is about sharing ideas. So we are very pleased to ask you what is your big idea on how to restore confidence in brands. Please join the conversation by providing your best idea here.
Posted in Marketing and Advertising, Nice Capitalism | 4 Comments

The stigma of CSR

Numerous studies in the last decade or so are supporting the view that brands and corporations involved in CSR are rewarded with a number of benefits: from increased brand preference and brand loyalty, to improved financial performance and stock prices. But from now, these CSR conscious brands and corporations will have also to carry a stigma: the stigma of being bad corporate citizens and.. irresponsible. According to a recent working paper by the National Bureau of Economics Research (USA)  ” companies are engaged in CSR in order to offset Corporate Social Irresponsibility (CSI)”. Authors Matthew Kotchen and Joe Moon suggest that their, more than 10 years, research shows that “harmful companies are those mostly involved in CSR. When companies do more harm (CSI) also do more CSR” , the authors suggest. Or to make it simple: companies do “good” in order to offset “bad”. What a nice subject for a debate.
Posted in CSR and Global Brands | 2 Comments