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“What brands really ‘get it’ when it comes to customer experience today?” What company has so seamlessly integrated its online and offline experience that it never feels like two different companies? I’m looking right at Burberry. Sure, Nike has combined its products and digital applications into a singular holistic experience, allowing you to track your athletic endeavors big and small, and Dove and Tide drive as many consumers to the website as they do to the shelves they live on.
During a keynote talk I delivered in London last week, I was asked the question: "What brands really 'get it' when it comes to customer experience today?"This wasn't a naïve question. It came from one of the 100 senior marketers from the strongest global brands in the world. The question extends beyond great digital customer journeys—Zappos, Peapod, Travelocity or AirBnB— and great physical customer spaces, BMW, Southwest or Virgin.

What company has so seamlessly integrated its online and offline experience that it never feels like two different companies? I'm looking right at Burberry.

Sure, Nike has combined its products and digital applications into a singular holistic experience, allowing you to track your athletic endeavors big and small, and Dove and Tide drive as many consumers to the website as they do to the shelves they live on. The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas helps you feel like you're there even when you are shivering in Chicago, while AMC's The Walking Dead allows you to participate in the zombie apocalypse online while your heroes take care of "live" walkers on Sunday nights.

But the brand that is truly doing the best right now at blurring the physical and digital worlds is Burberry.

The historic transformation of Burberry is well documented in many interviews, case studies and the like, including HBR's "Burberry's CEO on Turning an Aging British Icon into a Global Luxury Brand." In a nutshell, Burberry underwent a seven- year transformation from an underperforming, marginalized, over-licensed, decentralized brand, to becoming one of the most beloved and valuable luxury brands in the world, tripling sales in five years. It transformed from a stodgy, beige trench coat company to one of the leading voices on trends, fashion, music and beauty, all while redefining what a world class customer experience should be, digitally and physically.

Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry and soon-to-be head of Apple AAPL Retail, articulated this best when describing Burberry's London flagship store. "Burberry Regent Street brings our digital world to life in a physical space for the first time, where customers can experience every facet of the brand through immersive multimedia content exactly as they do online. Walking through the doors is just like walking into our website. It is Burberry World [their website] Live." Chief Creative Officer/Brand Czar (and incoming CEO) Christopher Bailey also recently declared that Burberry is as much a content-driven company as it is a leading fashion icon.

I will leave the rest of the storytelling to others, but what Burberry has done with its customer experience is definitely worth teasing out. Where do great brand-driven customer experiences start? Here are five steps to consider, using Burberry to illustrate each:

Declare what your brand will stand for. This one was easy for Burberry's new leadership team, led by Ahrendts back in 2006. It all tied to getting back to the glamorous fashion roots that had movie stars and the rich and famous in the 50s and 60s proudly showing off their Burberry trench coat and, in effect, selling the coat for the company—what we call "earned media" today. Trench coats represented less than 20% of their sales in 2006 and the "coat as fashion" trend exploded in the mid-2000s. Harking back to the romance of Burberry in a modern world became the brand's mantra, and "being the leading, globally relevant, luxury British brand" became the brand's aspiration. When you choose very purposeful words like leading, globally, relevant, luxury and British, you have, in effect, chosen the hallmarks of what your experience has to deliver upon.

Choose a target wisely. When Burberry began to relaunch their brand and truly own their new positioning, it would have been easy to choose the middle-aged man who probably already owned an old trench coat as a target. If they had gone that route, though, 2% annual growth would have continued to be the norm.

However, Ahrendts and Bailey broke free of tradition and declared they would build a brand, product and experience aimed at Millennials. Bailey stated, "Most of us are very digital in our daily lives now. Burberry is a young team, and this is instinctive to us. To the younger generation who are coming into adulthood now, this is all they know." While it can be unfair to group them all together, more often than not Millennials are the influencers, tastemakers, official critics and reviewers in society today. They also happen to be incredibly brand loyal as a collective whole, with an increasingly attractive level of disposable income. If delivered well, this target would pay dividends to Burberry for years to come.

Design an experience that delivers your brand promise to the target audience. Once the first two objectives were in order, developing an experience became directionally straightforward. It's not a simply a matter of fixing broken links in the customer journey, it is about understanding the customers' needs and motivations and designing an experience that best meets that need. For the most part, high-end fashion had been about the fashion house telling you what the latest fashions were and ordering you to like it/buy it.

Burberry looked at the target customer and realized that Millennials are more influenced by peers than by anything that a fashion house might have to say. And discovery, advocacy and sharing among communities do a lot of the heavy lifting of brand-building. While a company can make a potential customer aware of its brand, current consumers and advocates help sell it.

One customer journey innovation is Burberry's The Art of The Trench, described as "a living celebration of the Burberry trench coat and the people who wear it." This platform successfully positions the customer as a hero, and provides a forum for him or her to proudly show off their trench coats and individual styling via selfies posted on Instagram or Pinterest. Thousands of selfies have been posted, with comments, likes and dislikes and the opportunity to shift any one of those pictures into a purchase.

Burberry also recognized that music is so interwoven into customers' lives that it created Burberry Acoustic, a platform for new British bands looking to get a break. A few years ago, you might have seen Jake Bugg before he made it big or The Daydream Club posting videos on the Burberry Acoustic website that streamed to Burberry stores around the world. Burberry's authentic dedication to giving young British bands an opportunity to break through, using all of its multi-media platforms, is not only on-brand but plays right into the Millennial sweet spot of getting access to music in unique and innovative ways.

Create a branded experience, branded signature touchpoints and the organizational alignment to empower employees to bring the brand to life in unique and surprising ways.

Online, Burberry created Burberry Bespoke, which allows you to design your own customized coat by choosing from hundreds of different options, from the buttons on the outside to the lining in the inside. In the store, many products are lined with an RFID tag that, when triggered, will launch a video about its craftsmanship. A dress taken into the changing room may trigger a runway video showing this jacket/dress combination on a model.

Can't afford a Burberry jacket yet? How about throwing a Burberry Kiss to a loved one? Burberry Kisses is a collaboration with Google that allows users to kiss their touch screens and send their lip prints to loved ones—no purchase necessary. It's a valuable entry point that whets consumer appetites that will be satisfied immediately or down the road with a Burberry purchase. Music and kisses are free of charge and build good will for a loyal customer down the road.

Internally, Burberry invests in organizational alignment and brand engagement, sending out monthly webcasts, weekly videos and previews of ad campaigns before they launch. According to Ahrendts, "Knowledge is power. So the more the associates know about the strategy, about what's coming, the better. Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first."

Continue to innovate the experience and the brand

Last Fall Burberry launched its first ever men's cologne called Burberry Brit Rhythm in a totally non-traditional way—through global music events and digital media. "Inspired by the energy of live music" helped propel Rhythm to become one of Burberry's most successful new product launches.

And in January, Burberry launched The Burberry Beauty Box in Covent Garden, a new concept space where shoppers can enjoy an exclusive collection of beauty products and accessories. Inside, you can go to the Digital Nail Bar to help virtually select the right nail shade for your skin tone while Burberry Acoustic music is playing in the background and a Millennial sales person helps you put together your perfect Burberry Gift Box.

I wonder if, for just one day, we can rename Burberry to Blurberry, to teach others how to get it right?

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Not so long ago, every business assumed that the keys to success were the highest quality product, the best value for the buck, and the best customer service. Now all we hear about is providing the best “customer experience.” Exactly what is that customer experience that every modern marketer is talking about, and how do you measure it?
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review "The Truth About Customer Experience" defines it as your customer's end-to-end journey with you, not just the key touchpoints or critical moments when customers interact with your organization. Customer experience is the cumulative impact of multiple touchpoints over time, which result in a real relationship feeling, or lack of it.

The advent of social media and real-time interactive feedback via the Internet allows every customer to build and expect a relationship with your business, rather than just touchpoints. Yet we are all still learning what that means, in terms of hard business practices.

I like the insights outlined in the new book "Summit," by F. Scott Addis, who is an experienced business executive and recent Inc. "Entrepreneur of the Year" finalist. He ties business success and your personal summit to elevating your customers' experience with the following specific recommendations and key differentiators:

Listen to the individual customer. Every relationship requires listening, as well as talking. You have to hear your customer's dreams, goals, passions, and aspirations. That opportunity for your customers to talk and be heard is pleasurable and memorable, and defines their customer experience, more so than just satisfying business touchpoints.

Exploit your product and service differences. A memorable experience has to have something different from the norm. You must be able to highlight these differences between your products and services, and those of your competitors. If not, you are part of the crowd, and no relationship can be built.

Demonstrate the value of your offering. The first step in being able to demonstrate your value is being willing to find out what your customers want or need. This will create a connection with them, which demonstrates more value than price or quality. You create a loyal customer that wants to buy from you, and will recommend you to others.

Show your passion and creativity in every solution. This active discovery mindset searching for new questions drives real innovators away from more of the same. They fundamentally become value seekers; they look for value in every experience, in every conversation. They don't seek prescriptions, they seek possibilities.

Demonstrate your personal commitment. When in contact with customers, focus 100 percent on them, and do all you can to determine and meet their needs. Remember, customers are the reason you do what you do. Give them the respect and results they deserve and they will tell others about your good work and your business.

Shoot for the customers' hearts. Engagement and an emotional connection will make a customer relationship the driving force for loyalty and differentiation. Move from customer friendliness to customer charisma. A business with charisma gives the customer something very special, and they want to tell others about it.

Once you know how to improve your customers' experience, you need to also know how to benchmark it. Remember the old adage, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." So how do you measure customer loyalty and relationships? One new metric now commonly used is called the Net Promoter® Score (NPS).

This works by asking your customers for feedback, and dividing them into three categories:

Promoters. Loyal enthusiasts who keep buying from you and urge their friends to do the same.

Passive. Satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who can be easily wooed by the competition.

Detractors. Unhappy customers who feel trapped in a bad relationship.

The formula for the Net Promoter® Score is the percentage of customers who are detractors, subtracted from the percentage who are promoters (NPS=P-D). Legendary companies like Amazon and Costco operate with an NPS between 50 to 80 percent. But the average venture sputters along at an NPS of only 5 percent to 10 percent, or even negative.

Maybe it time for all of us to focus more on the customer experience. There is other evidence that companies with the highest customer experience typically grow at more than double the rate of their competitors. The inverse case is that you can lose you competitive lead very quickly by focusing on the wrong things. Have you checked your customers' experience lately?

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business design
By Joe Ayoub
There was a time when the bigger and more established a company was, the more assured it felt in terms of staying power in the market. But those days are long gone, and today it's how much innovation a company embraces that decides whether it stays relevant or perishes. What this means for businesses is that no matter how big they are, if they want to survive, they need to think like a start-up.
By Joe Ayoub

A start-up by nature is constantly on its toes, harboring a hunger to wake up each morning and perform better than the day before. There's a flexibility to their way of thinking which means every aspect of the organization's strategy is open to question and can be easily superseded if a better idea is brought to the table.

Established businesses may still ask themselves why they would need to change things, but the answer is very clear: today's business landscape is a far cry from that of fifty years ago. Back then the average age of a Fortune 500 company was somewhere around 75 years; today the lifespan is closer to a mere decade before a company goes out of business or gets bought out.

What's changed is the pace of consumerism: we're living in an age where consumers are always hungry for more – everything from content to apps to games – and are looking to consume them simultaneously. Technology, the driver of this rampant consumerism, has also brought with it the ability for any innovation, whether patented or not, to be replicated within a short space of time, even months. Ultimately this is what is pushing companies to be innovators – they cannot stop in world that does not stand still.

But there's an additional impetus that businesses should be feeling in this call to think like a start-up. In the wake of the financial crisis, the world entered an era of zero growth. Companies have to face the reality of this era, of pressures on margins, and of pressure from consumers demanding constant new ideas in the market. Their only way to survive is to stay relevant, and innovation is the engine that will not only do that but keep them ahead of the curve and in front of their competition.

Once the need to think like a start-up has been acknowledged, a business also needs to know how to implement it. This is not about appointing one person in charge of innovation, but rather instilling a holistic culture throughout the organization. This requires commitment from top management who should be heavily engaged and act to unite all employees in this push for creativity. To get there, businesses need to take a comprehensive look at the business, the brand value proposition and the employees – and formulate a clear vision and central strategy. Questions that need to be answered include which products/services to retain and which to divest, and which processes need to be reviewed to meet objectives fast.

Bringing the focus back to Lebanon, we are all aware that the country is going through yet another crisis period. But at times like this the situation can be viewed as a problem or an opportunity. From Brandcell's standpoint we are advising our clients to look at it as an opportunity to take a small step back and redefine their business for growth. It's not enough to think sales are down and to try to resolve this with promotions and discounts that will only send one signal to consumers: that you are in panic mode. Instead, now is the time to benefit from the lull to rethink every element of your business proposition and to discover how many new ideas you can create, and how many new resources you can make available to jumpstart your business when this crisis is over. Therefore having the ability to continuously unlearn and learn again is the trademark of successful companies.

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Design thinking can be a powerful approach that helps organizations break through their limiting assumptions of what is possible. It creates deep empathy and gets us out of the abstract debate over ideas in meeting rooms, to a place where we can collaboratively create and test tangible concepts. The theory is great, but getting to implementation is often difficult. Why is that?
When one of us (co-author Glenn Fajardo) started organizing the TechSoup Asia Program Design Session, an event that convened leading social innovation professionals in Southeast Asia to collaboratively prototype new ways of using technology for social impact, he decided to use design thinking for the first time. He encountered questions and worries that we think most first-timers have. The first was:

"OK, so I'm convinced that using design thinking is a good idea. I think I understand what it is after reading Tim Brown and Jocelyn Wyatt's article "Design Thinking for Social Innovation," and it sounds great, but I'm not sure how to put it into action."

Since then, we have experimented with using design thinking in several projects. Based on our collective mistakes and experiences, particularly in organizing two recent events in Southeast Asia (Changeweekend and the TechSoup Asia Program Design Session), it's clear that it's not always easy to put the theory of design thinking into practice.

We agree with Brown and Wyatt that "most [people] stop short of embracing the approach as a way to move beyond today's conventional problem solving," and that "one of the biggest impediments to adopting design thinking is simply fear of failure." However, to better understand how we might help more social innovators with "design doing"—actually applying design thinking—we need to better understand how people learn to use it effectively.

Learning "design doing" is experiential and social

There are already good learning materials available online, including the The Stanford d.School Bootcamp Bootleg and the HCD Toolkit. So what makes it tricky to learn and teach design thinking in a way that helps people embrace it more fully? These current materials might provide some sense of security and help, but are toolkits and workbooks enough?

Written materials alone cannot capture all the nuances of design thinking because the approach involves a structured approach with a lot of unstructured elements. Design thinking, like jazz, requires an appreciation for improvisation; learning how to apply it is an experiential and social activity.

Like learning to ride a bicycle, it is experiential. You cannot learn how just by having someone explain it to you—you have to actually try to do it yourself to find your own balance. You also need to practice to get better.

You can also increase your understanding by observing and interacting with more advanced practitioners—in this way, it is social. You enhance your understanding by practicing with your peers, sharing perspectives, and giving each other feedback.

This learning combination of the experiential and the social means thinking of design as craft rather than design as a codified process or design as an outcome. Think "knitting circle" rather than "classroom."

From knowing to doing

As an example, let's look at just one part of design thinking: how to prototype. A prototype is a simple simulation of the experience of a new product or service—a simulation that a user can interact with. It is often quick and dirty, and it makes an idea tangible and real. Prototyping helps you surface questions about the desirability, usability, and feasibility of your idea. Iteratively making and testing a series of prototypes can help you gain a deeper understanding of your users and help you refine your solutions.

We've seen anxiety from newcomers about making their first prototypes. They understand the concept of a prototype, why making a prototype can be useful, and how others have made prototypes. But the part about them actually making a prototype themselves…scary!

We saw this in the first design challenge for Changeweekend, where participants were tasked with developing new ways for currently unbanked populations to gain greater access to financial services. As we dived into a 45-minute session to create the first prototype, panic ensued:

"Aaaaack! Now what? I understand what a prototype is supposed to do, but not how to make one."

"Prototyping is for creative people. I'm not creative."

"Aren't there more detailed process steps? Tell me what to do next, not just 'start building.''

After about 10 minutes of spinning, and with some prodding from the facilitators ("You won't learn it until you do it..."), one small group finally started to build a "business in a box" prototype out of cardboard and construction paper.

As they started to engage in the experience of prototyping, they overcame considerable fear and inertia, despite feeling like they didn't really know what they were doing.

Conversations broke out: "I like what you did with this. Can you tell me more about your thought behind it? What if I tried this too?" The richness of the learning increased with the social interactions throughout the event, as participants had a chance to iterate and get feedback from their teams, other teams, the event facilitators, and other invitees who work in social enterprise development.

Once they started to work experientially and socially, and as their creative confidence grew, participants were able to start applying prototyping to their own design challenges, ones they face in their day-to-day work. One group took an idea for a "charity gift card" and started building prototypes that it could actually put in front of its intended users. This practice led to significant changes to the organization's business model, to the product offer itself, and to the product's presentation.

What's needed to support more design doing?

Even if you're just getting started, you might be surprised at the kind of help you can find. Try reaching out to your networks. Try posting to the Stanford Crash Course Facebook page. LinkedIn has several design thinking forums, such as Design Thinking, a subgroup of the Industrial Design group, and another (separate) group that is also called Design Thinking. Use these resources to find information and—more importantly—to connect with people. Let people know what you're trying to do and ask for their advice.

Gawad Kalinga Design Session at Playhouse MINT College in Manila. (Photo by Issa Cuevas-Santos)

We also believe that there's both a need and an opportunity here for more experiments around how to create systemic support for learning design doing. One could imagine a spectrum of modes for learning (varying in their degree of direct support of the experiential and the social) that lie between reading manuals online and signing up for a formal course on the topic.

One of the most significant challenges we see is enabling beginners to interact in real-time with experienced hands, in ways that are substantive, scalable, and sustainable. Though it wasn't by design (no pun intended), we saw some promise in something that happened after the TechSoup Asia Program Design Session: Several participants who experienced design doing for the first time during the event took that experience back with them and held design sessions where they were based. Organizations that did this include ASSIST and Gawad Kalinga in the Philippines, and ChangeFusion and OpenDream in Thailand. As a result, many more people were able to access experiential and social learning experiences that included interaction with (newly) experienced hands. In the future, one idea is to more explicitly build in an "each one teach one" expectation of participants.

What do you see as the barriers to introducing and applying design thinking in your organization?

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business design
Brands are not things they’re emotional experiences. Creating these experiences, and the use value they offer customers, is the result of an integrated creative process of design.
Everywhere you look in the marketplace there is revolution and disintegration. Few marketing organizations have successfully navigated through the disruptive forces of globalization and commoditization. Wave after wave of technological innovation comes upon us more rapidly, engulfing us, confusing us more profoundly. There are two fundamental realities marketers face in this brave new world:

-  Ideas are now more valuable than process
-  Move up the value chain or be cast aside

Through all this creative destruction the dead wood is being cleared from the system, making way for more innovative players to take hold and prosper. Many once beloved and dominant brands have surrendered their leadership position to scrappy startups who offer more. Amazingly, the rules of the game change in real time even as we all play along. Improvisation, once shunned by corporate organizations, is now considered an essential strategic business skill.

Yet, through all this disruption and confusion, it's an exciting time full of opportunity for those big thinkers and dreamers who view it as such. If you're a marketing executive charged with defining the perception of competitive advantage for your brands, the implications of this disruptive age are of significant importance to your own future.

Creating relevant and differentiated value for people is less and less derived from the attributes of product features and benefits, and more from the quality of the experience customers have through their association and engagement with your brand.

A focused fanaticism to create enormous value.

Design, in all its disciplines (product, process, environment and communication) is a strategic business imperative. For the entire enterprise to receive its benefit in the marketplace, design is the differentiator not a decorative act.

Design and the process of "design thinking" has added billions of dollars worth of market capitalization to those enterprises that understand its significant power and higher purpose to engage and delight customers in ways never before possible. In every leading company, design has become the soul of enterprise strategy.

You don't have to look very far to see brands that apply this principle with phenomenal results–Apple, Nike, Starbucks, Google, Patagonia, BMW, Herman Miller, Target, Gillette, Virgin – every one of these enterprises are absolute fanatics about design and its importance to their business strategy.

Whatever the product or service enterprise, you'll find design fanatics at the very top of leading organizations–fanatics who value design as the driver of competitive advantage.

Design leaders are not bound by the restrictions of the competitive plane (think cost and commoditization), when they are free to grow and expand by leveraging the love (think passion and devotion) customers have for their offerings.

Bake your marketing into big dreams.

These days, the stakes grow ever higher for marketers. Nothing is more destructive to success than clawing your way to the middle, to the common, to the good enough. It takes big, uncommon dreams to design beloved products, design beautiful environments and design rich customer experiences people love.

The biggest dreamers of all are designers and design thinkers. It's their inherent nature to dream. In many ways, marketers ought to think more like designers and dream the seeds of a bigger, brighter future regardless of the naysayer and quantitative non-believers.

Dreams require imagination. Market leaders always have big dreams. Design lights their way forward. The idea economy is especially kind to the dreamers who utilize the discipline of design as an inspiration force for manifesting much loved customer experiences into the real-life marketplace.

The functionality or usefulness of a thing is not enough to create devotion to it. The current battle in the smart phone category and the demise of the original category leader proves the point. Nowadays everything "works"! Everything is good!

It's far better to place resources on designing excitement, surprise, delight, passion and uniqueness. Think about, and create beauty. Forget product and service attributes, instead, design experiences people love and share. Bake your marketing into your big dream.

Make your next product innovation an opportunity to design an experience that people can't live without. Dream big. Never let the metrics of short-term demands weaken the resolve of a big dream still in the "goo" of creation. Creativity is a process not an event. There is no more room in the marketplace for me-too anything– dream dramatically different!

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awards + recognitionexperience designcustomer service
Today’s consumers are confronted with countless choices and a multitude of information to consider when they buy products or services. Traditional promotional methods like advertising in magazines or on TV are no longer as effective as before. How can a company help their brand stand out? What will make their brand communication effective? In light of these questions and many others, brand experience has emerged as an innovative and compelling way to build a brand in the minds of consumers.
What is brand experience and experiential branding?

Brand experience can be thought of as sensations, feelings, perceptions, and behavioral responses evoked by brand-related stimuli. The more powerful the experience is, the stronger the brand impression. Brand experience also affects consumer satisfaction and loyalty; it allows the brand to sell products at a premium and to create competitive entry barriers.

Experiential branding is a process by which brands create and drive sensory interactions with consumers in all aspects of the brand experience to emotionally influence their preferences and to actively shape their perceptions of the brand. Interactions involve communication, brand space, and product and service elements. These elements work together to affect brand equity.

How does brand experience build brand equity?

The combination of all interactions with communication, brand space, and product and service elements, make up a customer's brand experience. The customer will then form a brand evaluation and perception based on these interactions. This is what builds brand equity in the consumer's mind, and it is composed of four key dimensions: differentiation, relevance, esteem and knowledge. Various experiential branding methods impact different dimensions of brand equity, which must be carefully considered by marketers or brand managers when utilizing these methods.

In this article we will discuss the four dimensions of brand equity, and provide specific examples of experiential branding for each one, in order to discover how this creative branding activity can be used successfully.

Differentiation: Perceived distinctiveness of the brand

Differentiation is a brand's ability to stand apart from others, and to gain consumer choice, preference and loyalty. It is the degree to which consumers find a brand unique. A compelling and memorable brand experience can attract customers' attention and maintain their interest, and therefore contribute to brand differentiation.

In recent years, companies like Nokia, Apple, Barbie, and Gucci have opened flagship stores in China to provide more consumer-brand interaction opportunities. The newly-built Barbie Store in Shanghai is a 6-floor megastore with a spa, design center, café and interactive activities designed for girls. It became a hot spot in Shanghai very quickly, with thousands of girls now visiting the store every day. The branded experiences provided by the Barbie store will undoubtedly serve to differentiate the brand from others.


Flagship stores are one way that companies can connect and interact with customers to participate in experiential branding. They are also places to display limited edition products and unique service experiences, which can communicate the companies' culture and brand values in ways traditional media cannot.

Relevance: Personal appropriateness of the brand

Relevance refers to how meaningful a brand is to their target consumers. Relevant brands are both appropriate and appealing. Niche and growing brands may choose to focus first on differentiation and then on relevance, whereas leading brands will excel on all four dimensions.

Adidas Brand Center in Beijing is both experiential and meaningful for customers, so it contributes to brand relevance. The retail center features a range of interactive zones including miCoach Core Skills, the recently launched miOriginals, mi Adidas, a juice bar, a dedicated 'Urban' area for exhibitions and events, a basketball court on the rooftop, a Concierge Desk and a children's area. As you can see, there are products and interactions offered for Adidas' various targeted market segments, ensuring that the customer's experiences of the Adidas brand are highly relevant.


Esteem: Regard for the brand

Esteem measures the degree to which the target audiences regard and respect a brand—in short, how well it is liked. When companies grow larger and become more mature, brand esteem becomes more and more important. Today, companies often use indirect experiential branding methods to build brand esteem. One way to do this is through the Internet and social networking websites.

With the recent popularity of social networking services (SNS) such as Facebook, Twitter, Kaixin001, Renren, and many more, forward-thinking companies place their brand inconspicuously in the pages, games, and posts, of these sites. SNS websites are a new media which stimulate increased interaction with users. In the first half of 2009, Kaixin001 became China's most popular SNS with over 83 million registered. Brands, media agencies, and organizations have used different approaches to connect with the community and target its netizens. An impressive and representative case is Lohas juice. It successfully promoted its brand in the popular SNS game "Kaixin Garden". Through this interactive game, the juice brand not only promotes its products, but also portrays a lifestyle and an attitude which influences the customers' brand perception.


Knowledge: Understanding of What the Brand Stands For

Knowledge determines whether there is a true understanding of what a brand stands for. Brand awareness is a sub-component of knowledge. The level of brand knowledge is a signal of the company's past performance, as well as a foundation for its further development. Positive and accurate understanding of the brand amongst target consumers results in brand loyalty. However, it is not enough for a brand to tell consumers what their brand means, they have to show them, and what better way to do this than through brand experience.

This is what Nokia is doing with its global customer service and experience center in Shanghai, which opened in August, 2009. The center provides hardware repair and software services to users of its mobile phones. The Shanghai experience center is a place for customers to learn more about their Nokia cellphones and experience what Nokia brand stands for. Helping their customers develop a deep and comprehensive understanding of their company will help Nokia consolidate their customer loyalty and brand equity.



As mentioned above, experiential branding, a creative branding process through customer experience, contributes to brand differentiation, esteem, relevance, and knowledge, and therefore is an effective way to build brands. Through interactive technologies, innovative retail spaces, and indirect online brand communication methods, consumers can now see, touch, hear, taste, and smell brands in ways they never could before. Flashy advertising and price-slashing product promotions are often not sustainable methods for brand building. Experiential branding, with the objective of building brand equity, has emerged as a promising and viable alternative.

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experience designcustomer serviceconsumer brands
Service design is of immense use to companies that are looking for ways to enhance their customer's experience while using their product or service so that these customers have no reason to look elsewhere for the same product or service. 
There are many techniques used by service designers in order to make this happen and customer journey mapping is one of them. Simply put, it is a visual representation of the actual user experience of a particular company's service. Being user centered, customer journey mapping provides these companies with excellent information about what gaps exist in the service they are providing and this provides them with the opportunity to use other service design techniques to fill in the gaps.

Journey mapping is usually done over a period of time in order to get a clear understanding of what the customer encounters when he or she starts or attempts to use a particular company's service. It will plot all the different touch points that occur when a customer is offered a service. Every aspect of interaction, including gestures, is very important and should therefore be plotted accordingly in order to have the most accurate journey map as possible.

The best journey maps have lots of personal data and insights because this is the foundation of a successful interaction. It also makes it very easy for the analyst to get a better picture of what customers are really looking for and what they actually receive. There are many human beings involved, and therefore the map has to be humanized as much as possible. While successful interactions give lots of useful information, failed ones are also very important because they give plenty of insight into what should be corrected urgently because it is driving customers away.

Many companies do not even know what the correct touchpoints are when their customers come to interact with them. As a result, they put in a lot of effort in the wrong places while they neglect certain important areas. Many steps also involve a duplication of effort whereas there are many more that do not even add any value to the experience. Journey mapping is therefore an essential tool to help them find out what these touchpoints really are so that they can work upon them. It is also possible to use this as a starting point for redesigning services so that interactions can be greatly enhanced. This is also an excellent way around which training programs can be designed. Many companies also use this tool in order to plan their strategies more effectively.

Companies need to keep changing their services in order to keep pace with changing customer requirements. This can only be done effectively with the help of customer journey mapping and other principles of service design. They are usually very simple and easy to implement but the results they offer are very powerful indeed. There are many companies that offer service design consultancy because of the growing awareness of how important this field is in today's world.
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We live in a region where it is safe to say that the majority of well-established companies and family businesses tend to be resistant to change. Yet, as businesses wake up to the need to realign strategy with evolving markets and market trends, and as branding becomes recognized for its power to increase revenue, change is increasingly on the agenda.
by Joe Ayoub

Change from within

There is a simple truth universally acknowledged among branding experts that any change made to a brand will almost always end up bringing about internal organizational changes as well. This is particularly true when a change in brand strategy or a repositioning of a brand takes place. If we take some examples from the global marketplace, we can refer to Nike, which two years ago announced plans to implement a full range of management and organizational adjustments. These plans went hand in hand with the brand's strategy to move its global strategy away from a product-driven company toward being a consumer-focused group. Or, in the United Kingdom, when Barclays Bank decided to reshape its services around the customer — the end result entailed changes not only to the products offered but also to the delivery of service, training of staff  and so on.

The point is that today a brand is no longer purely a symbol that acts as a reassurance or sign of good quality for the customer; today a brand is a holistic entity that ties its external customer offerings with how it organizes itself internally. Therefore any change made on the 'outside' (in how the brand interacts with customers) will almost always necessitate change on the inside.

Resistance is futile

Even if this restructuring is not apparent at the time change is initiated, it will soon become so. As a company conducts business in line with the new strategy, little by little it will realize which aspects of the organization no longer work and which need some adjustment. This is not something that can be resisted. Even if a company chooses not to restructure internally to reflect its new positioning, the reverberations will make themselves felt, building momentum until the business is struck by a metaphorical tsunami.

I would like to note here that almost all of Brandcell's clients with whom we have worked on their brand strategy are today facing the need to rethink their organization.

That is not to say that repositioning or changing strategy poses a risk; quite the contrary. When a brand effects change of its own accord, it is a positive thing to be embraced. For it to succeed, however, this new direction needs to engage all elements of the company. Employees need to be involved in and engaged with the change, so that it can be reflected in their future behavior. It is essential for businesses to be aware of this need, to take things gradually and account for them at a certain point. They need to consider their internal managerial changes in terms of restructuring and re-engineering, knowing that just as in chess, when you move one piece on the board it has an impact on the greater picture.

Ultimately, a change in brand strategy signals a desire to adapt to the customers' needs. With this in mind, the goal can't be reached simply through superficial means, such as redesigning a logo or creating a new tag line. In the end it is about realizing that brands are becoming agents of change for the companies themselves.

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You can't run your company the same way forever. Here are 10 ideas to bring about change and breathe new life into your business.

Evolution is inevitable. If your company is operating the same way today as it did when it was first launched, then you are stagnant, which means you are losing business. Change is very important. Whether it is a complete overhaul or a few adjustments, every company can stand a bit of improvement, says Michael Silverstein, a consumer and retail expert with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global management consulting firm. "Even awkward first steps toward improvement are highly regarded by consumers."

Seattle's Best Coffee, part of the Starbucks family, revitalized its business and its 40-year-old brand earlier this year as part of its new strategic direction. The company is rapidly expanding its diverse distribution with a goal of establishing 100,000 places—from Burger King to Alaska Airlines—where people can enjoy a freshly-brewed cup of its premium coffee. Within six months, the company increased ten-fold from 3,000 to 30,000 distribution points that include company operated stores, franchised businesses, retailers, grocers, restaurant chains, and food service locations, such as college campuses.

What lessons can entrepreneurs gain from Seattle's Best Coffee when it comes to revamping their brand or business model? Here are a few suggestions to consider before diving in.

1. Be Ready for Change

Revamping your business requires shifting your thinking and being ready, willing and able to let go of things you felt were perfect, which may no longer be the case. A first step is to be open to changing or adjusting the way you do business and you have to be prepared to act immediately. For Seattle's Best Coffee, it all began one afternoon last summer with a conversation between Michelle Gass, president of Seattle's Best Coffee, and Howard Schultz, CEO, president, and founder of Starbucks Corporation. Starbucks and all its brands of coffee in total have less than a 10 percent share of the brewed coffee market in the United States. "We saw an opportunity to grow the Seattle's Best Coffee brand and to approach the coffee category very differently…in every phase of our business—partnerships, retail, and packaged goods," says Gass.

2. Determine Your Mission

Revamping your business involves taking stock of your company's strengths and weaknesses—what's the total picture not just a snapshot view. Before you embark on any type of product, brand or company change, Gass says to bear in mind two things: 1) be clear about what problem are you trying to solve, and 2) make it a mission project.

3. Talk to People

Ask your customers, employees, business partners and industry experts their opinion about your company—it's products, services, and brand. Find out what they like and don't like. How hard is it to do business with your company? What would they suggest; do you need a little revamping or a major overhaul? Have you clearly communicated your positioning? Do you have good price value? Where do you rate in terms of customer satisfaction and brand differentiation? Your market research, both qualitative and quantitative will be able to help you answer some of these questions, says Silverstein, who also is the author of Women Want More: How to Capture Your Share of the World's Largest, Fastest-Growing Market.

4. Measure Your Total Market

That is the most important thing you can do as a business owner, Silverstein says. "Many companies measure a narrow representation of what their market is." He cites for example, in targeting its soft drink, Coca-Cola measured its share of colas; meanwhile, Pepsi was watching Aquafina and buying SoBe, Gatorade and Tropicana. The real measurement for both companies is their market share of beverages, Silverstein adds. A good approach is to devote ongoing study in two arenas, within your industry and outside it. How has the market changed in your industry? Is your product or service still relevant? That's the moneymaking question.

5. Research the Competition and Seek Allies

In the case of Seattle's Best Coffee, market research unearthed a very important discovery. "The coffee category had gotten very complex and cluttered—lots of names and lots of geographies consumers can't even pronounce," says Gass. How could Seattle's Best Coffee evolve to be more relevant? The company's new purpose or mission became to make its premium coffee simple and easily accessible.

The company expanded its distribution points by fostering new relationships with retailers and solidifying exciting agreements with companies, including Subway Restaurants, AMC Theaters, Border's Bookstores, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

The company created a new brand identity that evokes optimism and fun. A new logo maintains the name and the color red while adding such symbols as a drop of coffee, a cup, and a red semi-circle representing a smile enclosed by a silver circle conveying a silver lining.

6. Rethink Your Customer Base

Part of revamping your business may involve targeting your product or brand to appeal to customers outside your niche demographic, versus introducing new products or lines to boost business. Appealing to a wider customer base can make up for less business by existing customers. Readily available for decades at specialty coffee cafes, kiosks, and food service locations, Seattle's Best Coffee added to its roster fast-food restaurants and movie theaters.

7. Improve Your Product Availability

There are rapid shifts in channels, Silverstein says. A mono channel player may not see in their data that they are losing share to a changing market. Don't limit your business to just one distribution channel. This also means making your service or product more compatible to online availability. Gass says exploring new channels for doing business is just as effective as coming up with an entirely new business idea. If your product or service can be utilized in a novel manner, this could lead to increased revenue as well as added value for your customers.

8. Determine Suitable Solutions

Here is where many people get stuck. Do not hesitate. Move forward. Once you have received a set of suggestions and you have figured out where the key issues are in your business, realistically study them to determine what adjustments will best suit your business. Do you need to repackage and reposition your brand? Do you need to identify new distribution channels? Or do you need to streamline processes? The overall goal is to respond with change, advises Silverstein. Analyze what expenses are to be incurred in implementing such change. Zero in on what will save customers money and/or offer the best product value. Identify what improvements are more likely to bring in new customers.

9. Create an Action Plan

Put down on paper what's wrong, how do you want to fix it, and what is your timeline for implementing that change? Specify the role of every individual team member in accomplishing that change. Engage in dialog back and forth. Do you have the diagnostic right?  Do you have all of the facts on the table that you need to make informed decisions? Are management and workers on board with the changes? Once you have created an action plan, periodically discuss where you are, what did you get right, and where do you need to make adjustments, says Silverstein. Track what works and what doesn't work.

10. Communicate Clearly and Effectively

Whether its evolution or revolution, if you are going to change, you have to tell the story why, says Gass. Communicate in a way that reflects your brand. "Rather than send out a press release saying that we have a new business strategy, we did a fun video (that can found on Youtube) for internal employees and external stakeholders, where we took over Starbucks headquarters and turned it into Seattle's Best Coffee building for a day," Gass explains.

"Change can be hard but you have to be willing to be bold and to be different," says Gass. "You have to have the conviction that you are in it for the long haul."

Along the way to revamping your business, you may make some mistakes. That is part of the process. Silverstein says the key is to accelerate through the mistakes, realize them and adjust them until you get it right.

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This year's Top Digital Brands study proved to be quite revealing about which industries and countries are making the most of digital media. For one thing, global brands aren't the only ones who have recognized the importance of digital media today. While at the regional level, global brands top the list of the most recognized brands using digital, local brands are increasingly using digital to communicate with consumers in their home country.
Consumer reach is only the beginning  Vastly different attitudes to digital across the region reinforce the need for localised engagement.

This year's ranking of the region's top-performing digital brands finds new categories stepping up online promotional activity, while traditional heavy hitters such as Nokia and McDonald's maintain a solid presence in most markets surveyed.

In particular, telcos feature highly in the rankings, not only in markets such as Singapore, but also in Thailand, Malaysia and China, where an enhanced web profile reflected increasingly competitive conditions within the sector.

While innovative digital branding clearly plays an important role in driving consumers to action, the study indicates that lack of trust in online marketing remains a serious issue. Digital marketers face an especially stiff challenge winning people over in developed markets like Taiwan, but online channels are also regarded with a healthy degree of scepticism in China-perhaps largely due to a heavy-handed approach. Malaysia and Thailand are shown to be more open, signalling room for experimentation.   To add credibility to visibility, marketers need to continue to make full use of online by listening and engaging-not just showcasing.


Social Ambitions  Brands need to embrace social channels more fully if they are to raise trust levels. By David Tiltman

Top 20 digital brands

1. McDonald's
2. Nokia
3. KFC
4. Coca-Cola
5. Nike
6. Sony
7. Samsung
8. adidas
9. Pizza Hut
10. Nestlé
11. Pepsi
12. Canon
13. Toyota
14. Heineken
15. Citibank
16. Olay
17. Honda
18. Philips
19. VISA
20. Head & Shoulders

The 2010 Top Digital Brands survey, highlights some uncomfortable facts for Asia's online marketers. The results of the TNS study show that online techniques are some of the least trusted forms of marketing; but they also suggest ways that a brand can build a highly credible presence on the internet.

In terms of awareness, the survey shows little change on last year, with multinational brands still dominating. Nokia, for example, is again consistently near the top of each country's awareness table. But there are signs that local brands are raising their game online. In Thailand, where no local brand made the top 10 in last year's survey, three Thai telcos appear in this year's list. Malaysia's AirAsia, meanwhile, gets the highest single-market awareness score of any brand in the survey. The exception appears to be China, where multinationals put in a stronger showing this year than they did in 2009.    

Attitudes towards digital marketing vary significantly around the region, as shown by the answers to questions regarding the persuasiveness of brands' online efforts. Thailand and Malaysia posted by far the highest scores for digital persuasion, while consumers in Hong Kong and Singapore, the two markets with the most sophisticated media industries, showed much lower levels.

The survey also asked how much consumers trust a brand's presence in different media, and it is here that digital marketers face a serious challenge. Across Asia, the least trusted forms of media are all digital. More than 40 per cent of Asian consumers say they do not trust ads in video games, ads in virtual worlds or ads in mobile SMS. More than 30 per cent do not trust emails or pop-ups. And 25 per cent do not trust search ads or banner ads. In all those cases less than 12 per cent said they trusted the medium completely.

What's more, not all 'interruptive' media fare badly. TV comes off quite well in comparison, with 18 per cent trusting it completely and 14 per cent not trusting it at all. Interestingly, however, digital also appears at the other end of the spectrum.

Recommendations from friends or family are the most trusted source of information, but expert and consumer reviews on websites, brands' own websites and consumer opinion in blogs all score highly.    

This reflects a broader trend borne out by findings of Edelman's Trust Barometer that 59 per cent of Asian consumers trusted businesses less than a year ago.

Thomas Crampton, Asia-Pacific director of digital influence at Ogilvy PR, also detects a growing resistance to corporate messages. "In the face of increasingly sceptical consumers, companies will need to rely on authentic word-of-mouth," he says. "This is not easy for any company, but can be particularly difficult in Asia, where disclosure and openness are not deeply embedded in corporate culture."

Given the disparity between trust levels in digital media, the question marketers face is how to achieve a balance between paid media they control, owned media such as the corporate website, and earned media-coverage in the social media world that is largely out of their hands. In some markets, China particularly, so called 'astroturfing' (seeding positive comments within social media) has been a popular tactic. If caught, a brand can expect its reputation to be tarnished, yet this remains "the biggest challenge in our industry", according to John Kerr, Edelman's regional digital director.

Kerr argues that engendering trust online requires a different mindset. Brands often see social media as a cheap option, as they do not have to buy media space. But significant investment is required in long-term management of a community. "Unfortunately social media has become another broadcast channel for many firms," he says. "I get the feeling that there's a heavy sense of relief for some brands when they can point to a set of fans or followers on Facebook or Twitter, but the job has only just begun."

The other issue around balancing social media involvement with paid media is measurement. What metrics apply to social media campaigns and how can they be made comparable to metrics for paid media campaigns? Pushkar Sane, global head of social marketing at Starcom Mediavest, says that success in social media should be the same as success in other forms of marketing, involving a lift in sales or market share, a lift in brand equity scores, or a lift in positive sentiments. However, he advises that "measuring these in silos will not help the brands to really identify the relative importance of different media vehicles".

David Ko, EVP Asia-Pacific at Waggener Edstrom, agrees that the "spike in number of metrics" makes tracking success across the digital space more difficult. "Each campaign can have individual metrics that range from number of submissions to an online competition, to actual sales transactions," he says. "It's up to marketers to decide upfront what success looks like, what should be measured to constitute success, and then execute accordingly."


1- KFC is China's Top Digital Brand
2- Nokia
3- China Mobile
4- McDonald's
5- Coca-Cola  Nestle
6- Alibaba
7- Pepsi
8- Nike  
9- Samsung

Top 10 Motivating Brands 

1- Lenovo
2- Nokia
3- Haier
4- Nestle
5- Nike
7- McDonald's
8- L'Oreal
9- adidas
10-Wong Lo Kat Herbal Tea

Building trust    

When it comes to awareness, Western brands dominate China's digital marketing scene. In last year's survey, three Chinese brands appeared in the top 10; this year that number is down to two-China Mobile and Alibaba. That said, in the list of the top motivating advertisers, four Chinese brands appeared, including Lenovo, which topped the table. This suggests that some domestic brands are using digital highly effectively.

Cautious but engaged  China's online population continues to grow rapidly- up to 384 million according to figures released in January. Consequently, online marketing continues to expand: clients spent Rmb 20.6 billion (US$3 billion) last year, according to iResearch, up 21 per cent from 2008. But the issues of trust in marketing highlighted in previous surveys remain.

Unsurprisingly, consumers across the region rate recommendations from friends and family as their most trusted, but in China 57 per cent say they trust this source completely. When asked which forms of marketing they do not trust, the top six answers were all online: ads in video games (47 per cent), ads in virtual worlds (47 per cent), SMS ads (46 per cent), email ads (38 per cent), pop-ups (38 per cent) and banner ads (28 per cent).

Given these figures, it is surprising that pop-ups remain so widespread in China: 47 per cent say they have seen them, the highest of any market.

Yet Chinese consumers respond well to digital. Eighty-four per cent say that a brand's presence online increased their interest in using it to some degree, behind only Malaysia and Thailand. They also look for other consumers' views on products. Consumer reviews on websites represent the second most trusted source of information, with 27 per cent saying they trust them completely. With a more subtle approach, digital marketers can expect strong results.

McDonalds is Hong Kong's Top Digital Brand

1- McDonald's
2- Disney
4- Octopus
5- Nike
6- Coca Cola
7- Ocean Park
8- MTR Corp
9- Cathay Pacific
10- Pizza Hut

Top 10 Motivating Brands    

1- Apple
2- Canon
3- EPS Company
4- Sony
5- Adidas
6- Nokia
7- Nike
8- Mannings
9- McDonald's
10- Sony Ericsson

Local connection

This year's survey reveals the growing breadth of brands using digital channels in Hong Kong. Aside from the MNC marketing powerhouses that invest heavily in digital in all markets, several local companies and organisations have been using online media, with MTR Corp, Ocean Park, Cathay Pacific and Octopus all making the top 10.    PCCW, HangSeng Bank, Mannings and Wellcome all appear in the top 20, underlining just how many local companies are active in the digital space.

 An under-exploited medium That said, digital spend is still low at about 7 per cent, and digital marketing can still be basic. Email proved unusually prevalent: Thirty-six per cent of respondents recalled email marketing messages, higher than any market other than Singapore.

On the other hand, mobile usage by advertisers remains surprisingly low, despite a mobile penetration rate of over 160 per cent and has around three million 3G subscribers. Just 12 per cent of consumers recalled seeing brands using mobile, the lowest score of all markets covered in the survey.    

Unusually, the brand that scored highest for motivation-Apple-was not even in the top 20 for awareness. Forty-seven per cent of respondents said its digital work significantly raised their interest.    

Overall, Hong Kongers seem more guarded towards digital marketing than many of their counterparts in other Asian markets. Just 25 per cent said that digital work significantly raised their interest in brands, while 18 per cent said it did not raise their interest at all. Only Singaporeans proved less receptive.

What's more, the seven marketing channels with lowest trust scores are all online. 56 per cent of respondents said they did not trust ads in virtual worlds, followed by ads in video games (51 per cent), SMS (43 per cent), pop-ups or pop-unders (30 per cent), search engine ads (29 per cent), email ads (28 per cent) and banner ads (25 per cent).

Air Asia is Malaysia's Top Digital Brand

1- Air Asia
2- Nokia
3- KFC
4- McDonald's
5- Maxis Communications
6- Nike
7- DiGi
8- Sony
9- Celcom
10- Coca Cola

Top 10 Motivating Brands    

1- Sony  
2- Air Asia
3- Pizza Hut
4- Nokia
5- Honda
6- KFC
7- TM Net
8- McDonald's
9- Malayan Banking Bhd
10- Celcom

Online impact

Malaysian awareness scores for brands' digital marketing are generally high. The top-ranked brand, Air Asia, scored the highest of any brand in any market, with 85 per cent recalling its digital work (significantly, Air Asia also scores highly for a frequency, with 46 per cent saying it was one of the advertisers they saw using online the most). Nokia comes in second for awareness with a score of 78 per cent, a figure that is higher than the scores of the top-ranked brands in every other market.

Open to digital  Aside from AirAsia, the local brands attracting high awareness scores were the telcos: Maxis, DiGi and Celcom. The trio have been aggressively launching new offerings, such as broadband services, new phones (Maxis offers the iPhone) and various kinds of hardware. All three brands rank in the top 10 Malaysian advertisers by total spend, according to Nielsen figures for the first half of 2009. By contrast, Telekom Malaysia, which also appears among the top 10 advertisers, ranks only 18th in terms of awareness with a score of 54 per cent.

Motivational scores are also high compared with other markets. Sony, Air Asia and Pizza Hut all scored more than 50 per cent when consumers were asked whether their interest in a brand had been raised significantly thanks to its digital marketing.

Malaysian advertisers seem open to a number of marketing options on the web. There was a remarkably high awareness score for sponsored online content; 61 per cent recalled seeing this, by far the highest of any market. Mobile also rated highly, with 24 per cent recalling mobile campaigns, putting Malaysia on a par with Singapore. Digital marketing appears to work well with Malaysian web users. Thirty-five per cent said it significantly increased their interest in a brand, higher than all the other markets except Thailand

SingTel is Singapore's Top Digital Brand is SingTel 

1- SingTel  
2- StarHub  
3- Nokia  
4- Singapore Airlines
5- McDonald's
6- DBS
7- M1
8- Nike
9- Coca Cola
10- Citibank

Top 10 Motivating Brands  

1- Adidas
2- Sony
3- Samsung
4- Singapore Airlines
5- DBS
6- Dell
7- SK-II
8- McDonald's
9- Citibank
10- KFC

Telcos fight it out  

The digital awareness table for Singapore reflects the strength of the city-state's local brands, notably the telco trio of SingTel, StarHub and M1. As SingTel's deal to poach English Premier League coverage from StarHub shows, competition for subscribers in that sector is fiercer than ever, so it's no surprise that the major players have maintained a strong presence online.  

Finance brands also placed highly, as they did last year. DBS, one of the banks criticised for its sale of certain Lehman Brothers-linked investment products, made the top 10 along with Citibank, while UOB, Visa, OCBC and HSBC make the top 20. Topping the table for motivation, however, was adidas, which did not even make the top 20 for awareness. In 2009 the brand launched a year-long drive targeting Singapore's women. The 'Me, myself' campaign included a Facebook application that helped women plan time for themselves by suggesting activities according to their chosen intensity and individual schedules.

Putting up resistance  The survey shows that Singaporeans multitask when it comes to media. Sixty-three per cent watch TV while online, and 66 per cent use mobile as they surf the web. Mobile marketing is more prevalent than in other markets: 24 per cent of respondents recall seeing mobile ads, higher than in any other market except Malaysia. Singaporeans also seem to have the highest opinion of mobile SMS ads. Although 32 per cent said they do not trust them, that is the lowest score of any nationality.

Singaporeans are among the most marketing-savvy consumers in the region. Just 19 per cent said that digital activity had significantly increased their interest in a brand, while 24 per cent said it had not increased their interest at all. They also loathe pop-ups and pop-unders more than any group: 48 per cent do not trust them, the highest score in the survey

7-Eleven is Taiwan's Top Digital Brand

1- 7-Eleven
2- Yahoo! Shopping
3- McDonald's
4- Chunghwa Telecom
5- Taiwan Mobile
6- KFC
7- Coca Cola
8- Nike
9- Family Mart
10- Pizza Hut

Top 10 Motivating Brands

1- KFC
2- Sony
3- McDonald's
5- 7 Eleven
6- Nike
7- Uni-President
9- Pizza Hut
10- Heineken

Retail leaders  

Judging by the results of the awareness study, retail and fast food are the lead categories in Taiwan's digital marketing scene. Both sectors have three brands in the top 10. Retail claims the top two spots, with 7-Eleven and Yahoo! Shopping claiming awareness scores of more than 75 per cent. Family Mart is in ninth position. The fast food sector, meanwhile, is represented by the US trio of McDonald's (third for awareness), KFC (sixth) and Pizza Hut (tenth).

Other notable categories include telecoms. Chunghwa Telecom and Taiwan Mobile make the top 10, while FarEastone ranks at number 13.

Figures for internet usage show a marked split between work and leisure. Fifty-two per cent of respondents said they use the internet for less than two hours a day for work purposes. The figure is just 29 per cent for leisure, a wider divergence than any other market in the study. Mobile sceptics  Taiwan is now one of Asia's largest internet ad markets, with an estimated 10 per cent of budgets going on the medium. Yet despite high mobile penetration, just 14 per cent of consumers recalled a mobile campaign. One reason may be relatively low take-up of SMS and mobile internet; a study of mobile usage in 22 nations by Universal McCann showed Taiwanese use mobile for voice more than elsewhere.

The survey data also reveals a startling lack of trust in classic forms of digital marketing. Manufacturers' websites, email newsletters, ads sent by email, consumer opinion in blogs and chatrooms and banner ads are trusted less than in any other market. A total of 59 per cent said they did not trust mobile SMS, and 32 per cent said they did not trust search ads.    It should be pointed out that Taiwanese consumers also gave low trust scores for newspaper, magazine, TV and radio ads. Clearly, this is not just a problem with digital marketing.

Nokia is Thailand's Top Digital Brand

1- Nokia
2- One-2-Call Mobile Phone System
3- Dtac
4- KFC
5- Honda
6- True
7- Samsung
8- Toyota
9- Pepsi
10- Pizza Hut

Top 10 Motivating Brands

1- Samsung
2- 7 Eleven
3- Nokia
4- Sony
5- Canon
6- Honda
7- Pepsi
8- McDonald's
9- Toyota
10- KFC

Winning online  Consumers in Thailand like digital media more than any other nationality in the survey. Across the board, digital channels scored higher for trust and persuasion. Forty-one per cent say online work had significantly raised their interest in a brand, more than any other nation; and just eight percent said it had no effect, fewer than in all other markets. In terms of trust, Thais are willing to put their faith in brands' websites - 39 per cent say they trust these completely, far higher than the second-placed Malaysians on 25 per cent. They are the most likely to trust email, consumer opinion in chat rooms and message boards, banner ads, pop-ups, mobile SMS, ads in video games and ads in virtual worlds. They are also twice as likely to trust a search ad completely than the regional average (24 per cent versus 12 per cent).

The high trust levels are not necessarily a reflection of better digital marketing in Thailand. Generally, Thais show greater trust in offline media too. Thirty-two per cent say they trust TV ads completely, compared with a regional average of 18 per cent. Awareness versus motivation  The list of the top brands for awareness underlines some of the key marketing battles taking place in the country. The mobile telecoms sector in particular is heavily represented: One-2-Call, Dtac and True all make the top 10, with handset manufacturer Nokia and rival Samsung also in the list. However, only the two handset brands make the top 10 of the most motivating advertisers, suggesting that awareness is not necessarily translating to interest for operators. Japan's motor companies are represented in Toyota and Honda, reflecting a fast-growing car market. With Nissan set to use Thailand as the test market for its March eco-car, competition is likely to increase. The rest of the top 10 is filled by MNC food and drink brands that spend highly on digital across the region: Pepsi, KFC and Pizza Hut.


Research company TNS interviewed a total of 3000 consumers, aged 15 to 39, across six Asian markets:  China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. Interviews were conducted online using an access panel provided by Lightspeed, a Kantar company. The research had four main objectives: to understand consumer awareness of a brand's digital presence in each market; to examine the use of digital media by different brands in the region; to assess the effect a brand's digital presence has on influencing consumer choice; and to explore levels of consumer trust towards different media channels. Accurate representation of consumers was achieved via stratified sampling with quotas on age, gender and city in line with population distribution. The brands included in the survey comprise the top spending advertisers in each market across all media, according to Nielsen's ad expenditure data.

This study therefore focuses on the digital presence of the top advertisers only. Those advertisers and brands not included in the list of top spenders are by default excluded from the study.

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T 00 961 1 335 417 / 321 / 370
F 00 961 1 335 410

Dubai Rep. Office
Emirates Towers, Level 41
Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE
P.O Box 31303
T +971 4 3197635
M +971 50 7058763