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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.
business designbusiness strategy
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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For marketers and brand managers who want to look beyond the horizon, we have identified 13 critical trends for 2013.
The New Year, 2013, approaches. And as everyone knows, the number 13 holds great symbolism. For the religious among us there were the 13 guests at the Last Supper and the 13 tribes of Israel. Scientists know the Universe is governed by 13 fundamental constants of physics, and the relationship between the volume of the Earth and the Sun is 1310. For shoppers there's added value of 13 items comprising a "baker's dozen." Anthropologists study the 13 skies of the Aztecs.

But for marketers and brand managers who want to look beyond the horizon, we have identified 13 critical trends for 2013:

1. The Expectation Economy

Over the past decade, customer expectations have increased on average by 28%. But brands in all categories overall have kept up by only 8%, which anyone at the checkout counter can tell you is an awfully big gap between what brands offer and what customers desire. Accurate measures of real, often hidden, expectations provide significant advantages to brands that understand their value and point to how to delight customers.

2. Me-tail

The consumers' heightened awareness of their actual control, added to the commoditization of brands and products, equals a significant segment of consumers craving customized and personalized products and services (see success of Pinterest). Customization will become an even more important brand differentiator, with returns-on-investments of loyalty and profitability made-to-order for your brand.

3. (E)tail Everywhere

Along with consumer expectations, online retailing increases daily. But increases in brand equity, and usage among online retailers, will come with consumers' desires to be constantly connected to these brands. Brands will have to watch for online retail pop-up stores, like Amazon, and physical kiosks for brands like Groupon, and think in terms of broader access.

4. Siri-ously Soon

Voice assistance – or more accurately, voice assistants – will become more the rule than the exception. Such applications will be designed and incorporated into more devices to meet consumers' increasing expectations for immediate and customized support in all forms of outreach.

5. The Known and the Branded

Real brands will become rarer. Examples of brands that delight consumers have become the yardstick to evaluate all products and services. While we may still call them brands, consumers think of them as category placeholders: stuff that doesn't stand for anything. Understanding what will turn consumers into fans will provide a foundation for meaningful differentiation.

6. Story Telling Tales

Brands that seek differentiation and wish to establish emotional connections that produce consumer engagement will need to get better at storytelling. Understanding where the gaps exist between emotional aspects of the brand's category ideal and how the brand is seen by consumers, can provide opportunities to identify unique stories, histories and tales that will differentiate, entertain, and engage.

7. It's Not Going to Get Any Easier Being Green

Producing, selling, and shopping based on environmentally "green" production and design, fair-trade and socially conscious consumption is on the rise. But given ease of consumer outreach and their ability to pull back the brand curtain, watch for significant increases in total sustainability and corporate responsibility in the consumers' decision process.

8. Social Susceptibility

Watch for greater influences of engagement and purchase habits via friends and social networks. Brands will have to factor in the reality that peer-to-peer communications come in three varieties: good, bad, and bland. This makes companies more susceptible to consumer indifference, their conversations and social interactions. Already brands are watching the "de-friending," or worse –negative news or outright bad evaluations about the brand. The brands that make it here will know the "how" of this consumer-controlled space.

9. Mobile Screen Tests

Mobile devices will become mainstream testing retailers on those screens. Brands must prepare to accommodate this trend, as consumers will rely more upon screens to engage with brands and guide purchase decisions. Brands will need to create carefully targeted campaigns for this platform and provide screen-friendly promotional materials and retail sites.

10. App Savants

Consumers will take greater advantage of applications. But this year those typically small, specialized programs downloaded into mobile devices will move beyond games, GPS, and media, to more personalized applications that monitor, remind, suggest, learn, and know their users' profiles and preferences. Brands will need to make greater use of such emotional and intimate connections.    

11. Facebook Is a Given

With brand ubiquity on the largest social network, recognition will be the least of a brand's concerns. The question is not, "should I be on Facebook," but has now become "what should I do on Facebook?" Brands will have to graduate from posting pictures, collecting friends, and/or offering coupons. But doing so will depend on the category in which the brand competes and where social networks make themselves strategically felt in the category.

12. Saturation Leveling

It's no secret that there are more products and services using more platforms and outreach streams with the marketplace dangerously close to saturation with marketing messaging. But just because it's different, doesn't mean it's differentiating. Brands will have to plan and research engaging pre-launch activities if they wish to level the playing field and earn a high engagement-to-effort return on their investments.

13. Engagement Empowers

Non-engaged customers are a brand's most vulnerable assets. Period. Marketers need to engage all along the journey, from engaging platforms, programs, messages, or experiences. Brands must keep their eye on the prize when using any of these engagement methods, however. It's all about meeting the ultimate goal of increasing brand engagement.

By the way, the number 13 is also thought by some to be unlucky. And we agree, but only those brands that ignore these trends will face direct consequences to the success or failure of branding, engagement, and marketing efforts in 2013.

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Many business owners, whether they are online marketers or brick and mortar businesses, often discount the value of investing in their online digital branding strategies. Neglecting to invest in your brand is a big mistake. Here are the reasons why…
What is Digital Branding and Why do we Need a Digital Branding Strategies

The internet is evolving fast through the social web and through social media sites. There are hundreds of ways businesses can communicate to consumers or a group of consumers. According to Wikipedia, Digital brand engagement is brand engagement with a key focus on communication via the web. The Cluetrain Manifesto, written by four visionaries in 1999 predicted the Internet would evolve to a point where the consumer holds the "power" and no longer could the corporate world continue to communicate to their markets (the people they wish to interact with) in a push marketing or broadcast manner. The internet has changed so rapidly that consumers can be very selective about which brands they choose to connect with. Consumers are now capable of communicating their thoughts globally and instantly through social networks, forums, blogs, bookmarking sites and videos. Businesses are capable of finding out what consumers are saying about them, their products or services by monitoring the conversations that are taking place off their website. This is extremely valuable information to know for business's digital branding strategies.

The Value of Digital Branding Strategies

Digital branding is about building a relationship with consumers that will keep them coming back again and again. Building your digital brand online boosts awareness of you and your business, as well as building your reputation as someone to be trusted. Business owners need to realize that digital branding should be a top priority in order to grow their business.

5 Key Digital Branding Strategies you Need to Know before you Launch your Branding Efforts

1- Research your Target Audience- Before creating any content for your website, you must have a very clear understanding of who your target audience is. Learn as much as you can about their demographics; such as, gender, age, household income, where they live, are they married or single, etc.

2- Determine what your Target Audience Wants to Hear- After doing all your research on your target audience, give your brand a voice. What is it that your audience wants to hear? This will help in what message and content you want to put out to them. When you create a message or content, write as if you were talking to a close friend or family member, because no one wants to be talked at.

 3- Build your Digital Brand Implementing Several Channels- Use display and content networks to build your brand through repetition. For SEO (search engine optimization) purposes, make sure that your brand name and messaging is consistent in both your meta description and in your title tags. Make sure that your content is consistent with your brand voice throughout all the different channels you choose to implement. By creating consistent content throughout the buying cycle, you are helping consumers recognize and remember your brand. This will make you the clear choice when customers are ready to make a purchase.

4- Plan Your Social Media Strategies- Know what kind of interaction you want your audience to have with your business. Your research at the beginning will help to answer the question as to how best to communicate with your audience. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn? Most likely it is all 3! Start by listening and seeing who is talking about your brand and if no one is then start the conversation. Remember, you want interaction, you don't want to force your message down anyone's throat. If you treat social media as a conversation, your brand will be on the right path to grow in popularity and reputation in no time.

5- Building Your Reputation- Building your reputation online takes time. It is important to have a clearly defined strategy for communicating with your audience and then identify the tactics you'll use in the process. For example, if you have offline partnerships, leverage them in order to grow your reputation online. This will also help in getting backlinks to your site, which will in turn help you move up the ladder in organic searches. The more widespread your brand becomes in the mind of your professional peers, the stronger your reputation will grow online.

The digital branding industry has evolved to the point where every business needs to be online and should be accessible anywhere and on any device.  Learning digital branding strategies has never been more important for any business that is looking to grow.

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business strategytips
There’s been a lot of discussion about elevating corporate responsibility to become a strategic driver of your business. Most companies would like to benefit from their ethical efforts in the form of increased customer attraction and loyalty, yet few have figured out how to do it successfully. When marketing and PR are relied on, it can often backfire in accusations of greenwashing. The secret is to apply brand-strategy principles to build your ethical reputation.
Brand: Who you are, not what you say

First, let's back up and define what a brand is. More than a logo, tagline or campaign, a brand is a promise delivered. It's no longer about marketing; it's about co-creating your reputation with your customers and managing perceptions through your actions. That means your brand could be favorable or unfavorable, depending on how you interact within your ecosystem and whether you've actively managed your brand or not.

A brand strategy is, in essence, a focused strategic platform that guides every aspect of the business. It should incorporate 4Ds: desirable by customers, deliverable by the company, distinctive from the competition, and durable over time. It's a blueprint for how you do business, as well as for the entire customer experience.

Since brand is inherently about building a reputation, it's not a stretch to say that strategic CSR is all about brand-building… not philanthropy or community programs. The latter are among the tactics to be judiciously identified and tailored to support a desired outcome, which should be to build a clear, consistent and believable reputation among your constituents that engenders preference and loyalty. That desired outcome informs the entire customer experience as well as how you do business.

Five strategies for aligning brand with values

There are five brand strategy approaches that are directly relevant to building your ethical reputation.    

Align with Brand Differentiator

Ideally your ethical initiatives will directly support your brand promise. Remember, a brand is a promise delivered… so consider what makes your brand unique from competitors and develop key initiatives to support that. For example, one of Target's philanthropy programs is to support the arts and design, which directly supports Target's "affordable design" brand differentiator. Instead of cutting your CSR programs during the downturn, consider shifting resources from generic programs to those that support and drive not just your category, but your brand.

Create an Ingredient Brand

Think Westin's Heavenly Bed or, in the CSR space, Marks & Spencer's Plan A or GE's Ecomagination. This is the 'special sauce' that makes your brand preferable to values-based buyers and employees. Creating a brand for your ethical initiatives accomplishes several important objectives:

Helps clarify for employees and customers your ethical value proposition  Makes it easier to allocate human and financial resources to your initiative (hint: assign a brand manager to own, drive and measure)

Serves as a growth platform for customer experiences, products and services  Elevates your social and environmental initiatives above me-too commodity status.  There are a few risks of goodwashing with this approach, so be sure that everyone is committed to creating something of unique value that's completely aligned with the vision and values of the parent brand. And any misstep by the parent brand may end up discrediting the hard work done to build the ethical ingredient brand.

Create a Product Brand

If there are values-driven buyers in your category (highly likely), consider launching a product just for them. Clorox GreenWorks and BP Solar are good examples. Note that these brands are tied closely to their parent brands, so don't consider this option unless the parent company is doing its part on the ethics front. But a product brand is an excellent opportunity to help customers experience your values and simultaneously boost the profit part of the triple bottom line. Case in point, GreenWorks has now captured 42% of the natural cleaner category in a little over a year.

Create a New Sub-Brand

A separate brand (with its own customer experience, distribution channels, etc.) that's completely anchored on the triple-bottom line puts a bit of distance between it and the parent company. Good examples include Starwood's Element or, through acquisition, Unilever's Ben & Jerry's. Why use a sub-brand strategy?

To lead your category in capturing hearts and minds of values-oriented consumers without being saddled with baggage of the parent company

To minimize claims of greenwashing, as all actions of the sub-brand are (should be) congruent.

To help "turn the Titanic" and reposition the parent company as an ethical brand. The parent company can "borrow" the positive brand equity from the sub-brand while going through the process of cleaning up its act.

Acquisition is the easier route, but often the ethical brand gets flack for "selling out" if it's not handled carefully, and core values still need to be aligned. Building it yourself is harder, but the benefits could easily outweigh the effort required.

Reposition the Brand  

This option is especially important for companies with a history of contributing to the problems of the planet rather than the solutions. Formerly "evil" companies like Wal-Mart, McDonald's and BP have made great strides in redefining their brands as more responsible. With a very large company, this is a process that takes years and top-down dedicated effort to fundamentally change the essence and ethos of the company. For a smaller brand it's definitely easier.

No hard and fast rules

Please note that there are no easy answers or guidelines here. The most appropriate approach for your company depends on the unique combination of your customers, their expectations and perceptions of your brand versus other options, the progress you've made in the ethical realm, whether or not you actually have a clearly defined brand promise, the commitment level from your executive team… I could go on, but you get the point.

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brandcell newstips
"Landor Associates released its 2012 trends forecast that focused on marketing trends that will affect brands in the coming year. Focusing on four key areas — stories, extensions and expansion, mobile, and change".
This month, Landor Associates released its 2012 trends forecast that focused on marketing trends that will affect brands in the coming year. Many of the insights from the forecast focused on four key areas — stories, extensions and expansion, mobile, and change. Topics  like smartphones, tablets, apps, China, and baby boomers are covered in this forecast, which sheds light on the big marketing trends coming for brands in the new year.

Following are some of the highlights from Landor's forecast. Keep these marketing trends on your radar screen as you prepare your 2012 brand strategy.


Storytelling has been a buzz word in social media and content marketing circles for a while now, so it's not surprising to see reference to the importance of storytelling in Landor's 2012 forecast. According to the report, Landor breaks storytelling into two distinct areas that will each have a significant impact on brands in the new year — brand naming and image sharing

When it comes to brand naming, Landor expects brand names to become more abstract in 2012, not only because there are already over one million names trademarked with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but also because a coined brand name better enables a company to create and tell a story.

Similarly, image sharing will become a higher priority for brand marketing in 2012. Social sites like Flickr and Pinterest make it easy for brands to communicate with audiences without words. Even Facebook (with 90 million uploaded images) is a social destination where brands can tell stories through pictures that are easily discussed and shared.


Brand Extensions and Expansion

Landor cites two primary areas for brand extensions and expansion in 2012 — baby boomers and China. Each is highly attractive for brands from a wide variety of industries.

First, baby boomers present a huge audience of consumers who proved in 2011 that they're willing to use new technology and they have money to spend. In 2012, brands have new opportunities to connect with the baby boomer audience through online and mobile media as well as with brand extensions that offer targeted features and benefits for this population.

China represents a huge market of consumers as well, however, Landor sees the biggest opportunities for luxury brands to target Chinese consumers who have already demonstrated their interest in international luxury brands, particularly when those luxury brands integrate Chinese culture into their products. For example, brands that create extensions made specifically for China are highly regarded. This is a market that offers great potential for luxury brand expansion.


Landor recognizes the importance of mobile marketing in 2012 for brand growth, but mobile is also essential for brands to retain their current positions. Increasingly mobile consumers who are hyper-connected expect brands to be available at their fingertips, and brands need to make sure to be there. Landor suggests two areas of focus in 2012 — apps and tablets.  

There are so many apps available right now that it's hard to know which ones to use. Landor doesn't see that as a bad thing. That's because the best apps and the apps from powerful brands will rise to the top over time and all the rest will fade in popularity. Therefore, a key part of brand development in 2012 should be a focus on the mobile audience and mobile apps.

Tablets are also a key area of interest for brands in 2012. Therefore, brands should develop a plan to migrate their audiences to tablets, focus on video content optimized for tablets, and create a tablet-friendly user experience. Tablets aren't going away. In fact, they'll probably be everywhere sooner than you think. Landor notes in its forecast that even cars will be equipped with some type of tablet device in the future. Your brand marketing needs to be mobile-ready, too.



We live in a world of instant gratification, and brands need to adapt to consumers' need for real-time communication and immediate action. Allen Adamson, Managing Director of Landor's New York office (who wrote the forward for my book, Building Brand Value the Playboy Way, and is one of my favorite branding thought leaders), summed up the importance of company adaptability to brand success in the future in just a few sentences:

"Put simply, companies that once thought in terms of "built to last" must now think in terms of "built to change." Creative thinking and an entrepreneurial spirit are the price of entry, and any company that doesn't recognize change as the new normal will not have a fighting chance. … The ability to make things happen in real-time will be a critical asset and competitive advantage. Companies that watch and ponder, and wait for conclusive evidence before launching into a new endeavor will be left in the dust. It's time to get comfortable with calculated risk-taking." – Allen Adamson, Landor Associates    

I couldn't agree more with Allen's insights related to change. I'm always saying that companies can't get out of their own way and it's a recipe for failure. Do yourself and your brand a favor in 2012, and get out of your own way!

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