brand experience

Clydesdales and Customers


How do you cause a disturbance? Shake up the marketplace?

It begins by tapping into the emotions and psyche of the consumer. Take the Budweiser Superbowl TV spot about the man that raised and trained a Budweiser Clydesdale horse and gave him up to be a part of the Budweiser team. The horse never forgot his trainer, and sought him out by cantering down the street to find him after a parade. They share a ‘hug’, and the consumer feels heart-warmed by their happy reunion. Just about everyone felt touched by this commercial, and thereby touched by the brand as well. Everyone who saw the commercial in real-time talked about it, and many who didn’t see it live, looked it up later on YouTube. This is the essence of causing a disturbance.

While the phrase is often (over) used, it’s hard for people to think outside of the box. I tell them to start very simply.  Turn off of your computer, your iPhone or your iPad because the answers aren’t in your screensavers or mobile devices. Tilt your head up slightly and observe the world around you. Inspiration and ideas start with observation. Attend events, business groups and round tables. Most of all, talk to and be inspired by new people.

The ideas don’t have to be earth shattering. They just have to delight the senses or sensibilities of your market. After all, the cakepop is just a really little piece of cake dipped in chocolate coating and held up by the timeless popsicle stick. Just like that, you have take-out cake, a very small tweak to a favourite treat that puts big smiles on people’s faces.

How can you further delight your customer and keep them engaged? What else can you sell to them? It could be a product, a process or a service. So, don’t be afraid to shake it up. Today, more than ever, you have to be engaging and re-engaging your customers with things that are new and interesting.

That’s innovation. It’s as simple as that. Have an idea and bring it to market in a way that delights customers and keeps them coming back to you!

How will you shake up your bowl of oats?

Listen to the radio interview that this article is based on below.

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Epic Brand Fail!


I read in a recent New York Times article (published October 15, 2012) that a Blackberry user, Rachel Crosby, said she no longer takes out her BlackBerry at parties and conferences, and in meetings she hides it beneath her iPad for fear clients will see it and judge her. “I am ashamed of it,” she said. Ouch! That is so not cool. We know BlackBerry’s troubles over the last four years and its drought of innovation since its supernova days and a market cap of $78 billion (June 2008). Today, it’s at $4.4 billion and the brand is in free-fall.

The connection between a corporation’s value and brand is not covered by standard accounting practices. As Roy Sieben, partner at SB Partners accounting firm explains, “Generally accepted accounting principles do not report the value of internally generated goodwill (as opposed to purchased goodwill) despite the fact that such goodwill can be a significant part of a corporation’s overall value.”

Luckily, there are firms (Interbrand) that measure the value of brands and rank the top 100. The results are a striking reminder to all of us in business of how important brand is to the long-term of the business assets that we are building.

In 2012, guess who was #1? No, not Apple; it was Coke, coming in at a value of $77.8 billion, up 8% from 2011. Apple was a close #2, at $76.8 billion, up 129%. And guess who was down at #93? Blackberry at $3.9 billion, down 39%. Another tech competitor, Microsoft, was #5 at $57.8 billion, down 2%.

Not surprisingly, in this group, there is a general correlation between the company’s market capitalization and brand value. Between January 2011 and November 2012, the up or down change in market cap is mirrored in 2012’s brand value:

Apple: Market cap rose from $296 to $510 billion and brand value jumped 129%
Blackberry: Market cap crashed from $34 to $4.4 billion and brand value fell 39%
Microsoft: Market cap dropped from $238 to $227 billion and brand value fell 2%
Coca-Cola: Market cap rose from $152 to $162 billion and brand value rose 8%

Accountants may not put brand value and innovation on the balance sheet but you can probably get pretty good odds from any savvy investor that a strong brand and continuous innovation are intangible items to be considered “on” the balance sheet. Leaders of the most successful corporations know it.

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Relevant is way more effective than cool

Design is your first impression. It is your differentiator and one of the most important sales and marketing tools that you will ever have.

It is the visual and physical articulation of your product or service. It drives your customers’ brand experience and ultimately helps to build sales…and from where we sit, that’s a good thing.

Design, design elements, form, fashion and colors aren’t things that you work on in your spare time, for fun, to give you a break from the mundane pressures of running your business on a daily basis. Or that your kid sister can do because you bought her a Mac with all sorts of neat programs.

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