Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Measuring Brand Equity

When you work with brands you sometimes need to identify the ones worth the marketing bucks. I googled the Y&R Brand Asset Valuator approach today which is a method I used years ago when working on this topic. And I came across this quite interesting slideShare presentation which worked as a useful reminder of the many different approaches out there... Some I believe to be better than others. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Knorr - Bag of Taste, clever new concept by Unilever

Just saw the Knorr 'Bag of Taste' ad on the telly and just had to write a short note to say that I love this new concept by Knorr. During recent years we've already seen a couple of good launches by Knorr and they appear to be on the perfect path to growth.

I also believe that Unilever has done a good job revitalising the Knorr brand and I see the 'Bag of Taste' as yet another evidence that they have great new concepts in the pipeline, concepts with benefits that are built on real consumer insights and that will help the Knorr brand to climb on the value ladder.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wolf brings Swedbank brand back on track?

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending 'Stora Annonsördagen', an event organised by the Swedish Advertisers federation. CEOs of some of Swedens largest corporations were talking about the importance of strong brands, brand equity, brand values, living the brand and communicating the brand. Surely bound to be some topics that you rarely hear them mention on a day to day basis.

Swedbank logo
The recent Swedbank brand and communication story was a particularly interesting case told by Swedbank CEO Michael Wolf. For those out there who don't know Swedbank it is the largest retail bank in Sweden but it also has significant presence in the Baltics. In fact, it was the recession and especially the bad debt in the Baltics that caused particular turmoil. It was at the beginning of 2009 when Swedbank was in serious trouble and had to be saved by the loan guarantees by the Swedish state. And the crisis and all the accompanying bad press had a negative effect on the Swedbank brand trust and credibility. This is when Mr Wolf took over as the CEO.

Today the situation is quite different. Sweden is in growth again and the horrible year of 2009 is 'almost' forgotten. Swedbank has impressed markets with reported net profits of SEK 7.4 billion for 2010 increasing from a net loss of SEK 10.5 billion for 2009. This is of course good. However, the ambition of Mr Wolf was not only to impress financial markets, but also to restore consumer confidence in Swedbank as a brand and retail bank. And Mr Wolf followed a textbook recipe for how to get the Swedbank brand back on track: 

First step: To identify the essence of the brand - the brand values & the brand difference
Swedbank is the result of many mergers in the Swedish bank industry, and of making something large and significant out of smaller, regional financial institutions. These smaller banks were deeply rooted in the Swedish culture and values, but somehow those values got lost as the bank grew bigger and bigger. And they sure were not guiding the risk taking in the Baltics. But following the crisis Swedbank realised that they must restore and strengthen the values within the corporation, and 'live those values' both internally and externally. The values identified as core to Swedbank were: Simplicity, Transparency & Caring. Values that are not unique per se, but which will work as guidance as Swedbank work to identify its point of difference. Mr Wolf explained that the values will be the guiding force to find brand differentiation. The Swedbank differentiation will come, as Mr Wolf put it: -"by delivering the values through concrete services and products".

Second step:  To go back to core strength in market
The old Sparbanken oak symbol
The second and very important thing that Swedbank realised, and something that Mr Wolf did not talk about too much, but which is of significance to the brand. Is to go back to the core of what is Swedbank in the eyes of their Swedish customers and target group. This goes way back in time...  and to some very fundamental brand stories and symbols. As mentioned before Swedbank is the merged result of many small and regional 'saving banks'. One of those banks was Sparbanken, who utilised an oak as a strong symbol of the benefits of saving. And this oak is still remembered in a positive light by many older customers. When later 'Föreningssparbanken' became the international bank of Swebank the oak was still left in the logo but with little meaning for new customers. After years of excess, Swedbank is now going back to the oak, and what it stands for in terms of being careful with spending, and saving for the future.

Third step: Setting a new communicaton strategy
The third and significant step was for Swedbank to find a way to communicate that it has taken a new path, and restoring trust in the Swedbank brand. Swedbank worked with swedish agency Lowe Brindfors and UK agency Aardman to identify a new communication platform and concept called 'under the oak'. And the result was this new commercial currently running on Swedish television.

The target is for Swedish customers to get to know Swedbank again. And this ad has received a lot of positive reactions in Sweden, and it has also tested well when Swedbank has tracked reactions in the market. This new communication concept is apparently developed to have a lifespan of at least five years. And I'm already looking forward to follow the next step of the work that is being done to restore the trust in the Swedbank brand.

So all in all I was impressed by the brand and marketing work that is going on at Swedbank. And I was glad to hear that Mr Wolf talked about these issues as important for the bank going forward. I'm convinced that we will see a future where people won't be as loyal to their banks as they are today. If banks misbehave we will see people switching banks more often, and banks will have to work harder to keep relevant. The work that Swedbank is doing today is going to serve them well when this open marketspace is a reality.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Ice-cream creation - Cold Stone Creamery is living its vision

A neon sign for the Cold Stone Creamery at Irv...I wonder what it is in the North American gene or environment that makes so many Americans creative and unafraid of challenging the norm. This time this thought of mine awoke when I spotted how something old and simple was reinvented into something new and awesome. And it was all related to one of my favourite foods - ice-cream and the great ice-cream experience of Cold Stone Creamery.

I enjoyed this experience during my recent holiday in Dubai. One of the many lavish hotel experiences was the Atlantis hotel where I had the privilege of having lunch and then experiencing one of their ice-cream creations for dessert. Believe me, for anyone who likes a decent ice-cream this is the business!

ice cream lunchThe Cold Stone ice-cream is not just ice-cream. It is an ice-cream experience where fun and entertainment is joining force with incredibly tasting ice-cream flavours and creations. And the ice-cream is not just ice-cream anymore but instead it becomes the carrier of a broad variety of fantastic fillings, and it's all crushed, created and customised on a granite stone. All to meet your individual ice-cream desires. Mmmm....  what a treat! On their website they say: "Ever since we opened our first store back in 1988, we’ve been serving up what we refer to as Creations" And what I've seen and tasted is certainly delivering on this brand promise.

I love the fact that Cold Stone Creamery have created a real ice-cream experience, that both adults and children can enjoy. All details are carefully organised to deliver your kind of ice-cream creation.

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