Unconventional Branding

How Brands Shape the World we Know

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Hello Happiness

Coca-Cola’s latest initiative in Dubai has everyone smiling. The immigrant workers who built an oasis in the desert, which include colossal structures like the Burj Khalifa, are the unsung heros of modern progress. Relegated to employer sponsored labor cities, a hard day’s work does not just mean hours of manual work to make architectural dreams reality, it also means a life of seclusion and segregation from friends and family back home. Life for these workers is very different from the lives they help make possible for others. 

Coca-Cola is helping make things a little better for the thousands of workers who literally make Dubai possible:

As per Coca-Cola campaign manager, the 5 machines were placed for approx 10  hours from 21st March till 21st April 2014 in labor camps in Dubai.  During this period they have logged ‘134,484 minutes’ that is roughly about 22,000 hours of calls. In addition, he said “The Hello Happiness initiative pays tribute to the hard work and efforts of these laborers and serves as a gesture of goodwill and appreciation” (from in-dubai.com)

Hello Controversy?

The campaign has its limits of course. Detractors have rightly pointed out that these calls are not exactly free - it requires a purchase of a Coke. Some have voiced concerns about the health of effects of being encouraged to drink more Coke. These claims can all be debated extensively, of course. For example, a Coke costs Dh 2 while a typical one minute phone call costs roughly Dh 3.34. For a fraction of the cost, the Coke bottle cap gives customers 3x the talking time - so there is certainly some value created for consumers. 

Speaking to The National newspaper, Iain Ackerman (editor of Campaign Middle East) raises other ethical concerns about this kind of marketing:

“I’m cynical about most advertising that is charitable in nature,” Mr Akerman said. “Most brands and agencies benefit more from such work than the recipients. And if it’s genuinely charitable, why the need to promote it?

“Any form of corporate social responsibility should not be about making the brand look good but about making a genuine difference to people’s lives.

“It would, however, be unfair to pick solely on this campaign as it is part of a much wider issue that relates to the relationship between advertising, brands and charities.”

Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/uae/technology/coca-colas-bottle-top-operated-phone-video-divides-opinion-in-the-uae#ixzz31th4kW47 
Follow us: @TheNationalUAE on Twitter | thenational.ae on Facebook

And of course, there is the lingering question of worker’s rights in general. As the video points out, these laborers make as little as $6/ day in a city renown for wealth and glamour - do these kinds of campaigns gloss over deeper injustices? This may be true to a degree, unless they are able to build awareness about the hardships faced by thousands who live amongst us in near total isolation. With more than 900,000 YouTube views, the video certainly has at least some (to put it mildly) people talking. 

Filed under cocacola dubai hello happiness

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And now, the exciting conclusion to SloanStarBranding’s five takeaways to build trust for your brand…

What’s your story?

It’s no secret that the most successful performance brands have epic narratives behind them. Think Nike and Oregon coach Bill Bowerman, whose garage experiments with his wife’s waffle iron transformed the way we think about sport’s shoes. Or how about Gatorade and the incomparable story that surrounds their brand. In 1965 scientists at the University of Florida developed a sports drink that would better hydrate their athletes - “Naturally we called it Gatorade” (after the University of Florida Gators). The rest is history. It was the 1967 Orange Bowl, pitting Georgia Tech against University of Florida. The Yellow Jackets gave the Gators all they could handle in the first half and the Gators had pushed themselves about as far as their bodies would let them. Cue Gatorade. The Gators were a different team in the second half, setting an Orange Bowl record 93-yard rushing touchdown and winning the bringing home their first Orange Bowl title with a score of 27-12. After the game Georgia Tech coach, Bobby Dodd, commented to Florida coach, Ray Graves, “If you didn’t have Gatorade…that made the difference.” It didn’t stop there. In 1969 Florida coach Ray Graves convinced the Kansas City Chiefs to pick up on the difference-making beverage. That season the Chiefs went on to beat the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. That’s what legends are made of.

Still not convinced? Take the wildly successful, Ben & Jerry. In 1963 Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield took a $5 ice cream class by correspondence from Penn State University and soon after launched their eponymous brand. Ever wonder why their flavors are so rich? Ben suffers from anosmia, or almost no sense of smell. To taste his recipes work he simply added more ingredients. The rest is history.

The bottom line – if your brand is selling performance, you need a convincing narrative to illustrate the power of your product and what makes you different. That’s a million dollar idea.

And now for SloanStarBranding’s Super-Secret **Bonus** Recommendation…

It’s simple – take Prof. Gosline’s 15.846 The Art & Science of Branding at the MIT Sloan School of Management. You’ll never look at brands the same way again!

Filed under mitsloanbranding MITBranding GetFocused professorgosline

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Leaders Aren’t Born, They’re Made
Pope Francis wasted no time in showing the world what kind of leader he intended to be when he introduced himself to the world on the balcony of Saint Peter’s basilica on March 13, 2013. On the heels of his first anniversary as election, one might accurately sum up his pontificate in a single word, simplicity:
He chose the name Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the mendicant orders whose way of life is bound by poverty and dedicated to an ascetic way of life. Commenting on his decision, Francis said “For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation.”
When thousands of Argentinians gathered together to watch his papal inauguration at 5:30 am local time, Francis telephoned the crowd over loudspeaker and asked ““Don’t forget this bishop, who though far away, cares so much for you.”
He lives in a simple apartment adjoining and personally paid his hotel bill after being elected Pope as a “good example” to other bishops. He also drives a 1984 Renault.
When ten days after his election Francis met Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, he greeted him as “Brother.”
Pope Francis has been known to personally reply to letters from the faithful, in some cases even calling well-wishers to thank them – including his newspaper deliveryman in Argentina.
As Bishop in Argentina, Francis took the bus and believed in living among the people. As Pope, he often sneaks out at night disguised as a parish priest to give money to the poor and help the homeless.





For those watching intently on March 13, 2013 these actions, and many more besides, reflect the authenticity showed to the crowds gathered to greet the new pontiff. In his first Papal first, Francis asked the crowds to pray for him before he prayed for them:


"And now I would like to give the blessing, but first - first I ask a favor of you: before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me: the prayer of the people asking the blessing for their Bishop.  Let us make, in silence, this prayer:  your prayer over me."

Leaders Aren’t Born, They’re Made

Pope Francis wasted no time in showing the world what kind of leader he intended to be when he introduced himself to the world on the balcony of Saint Peter’s basilica on March 13, 2013. On the heels of his first anniversary as election, one might accurately sum up his pontificate in a single word, simplicity:

  1. He chose the name Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the mendicant orders whose way of life is bound by poverty and dedicated to an ascetic way of life. Commenting on his decision, Francis said “For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation.”
  2. When thousands of Argentinians gathered together to watch his papal inauguration at 5:30 am local time, Francis telephoned the crowd over loudspeaker and asked ““Don’t forget this bishop, who though far away, cares so much for you.”
  3. He lives in a simple apartment adjoining and personally paid his hotel bill after being elected Pope as a “good example” to other bishops. He also drives a 1984 Renault.
  4. When ten days after his election Francis met Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, he greeted him as “Brother.”
  5. Pope Francis has been known to personally reply to letters from the faithful, in some cases even calling well-wishers to thank them – including his newspaper deliveryman in Argentina.
  6. As Bishop in Argentina, Francis took the bus and believed in living among the people. As Pope, he often sneaks out at night disguised as a parish priest to give money to the poor and help the homeless.

For those watching intently on March 13, 2013 these actions, and many more besides, reflect the authenticity showed to the crowds gathered to greet the new pontiff. In his first Papal first, Francis asked the crowds to pray for him before he prayed for them:

"And now I would like to give the blessing, but first - first I ask a favor of you: before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me: the prayer of the people asking the blessing for their Bishop.  Let us make, in silence, this prayer:  your prayer over me."

Filed under MITBranding mitsloanbranding pope francis

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Keurig, Brewing Authenticity since 2006

Consumers are changing. You can’t exchange advertising dollars for revenue dollars anymore. We demand more, we demand brands that speak to us, understand us, represent us. We are looking for a deeper relationship with the products we buy and the companies that make them. It’s a whole knew world of relationship branding where only the authentic survive and succeed. 

Keurig Green Mountain is one of those truly authentic brands - full of that special down to earth, real people Vermont-ishness. Add to it a vigorous entrepreneurial spirit that goes along with a healthy obsession of perfecting a product they can be proud of. Talk to anyone at Keurig and they’ll tell you “we don’t make coffee brewers, we’re a technology company that make coffee brewers and much more”. Keep you’re eyes open in the next few months and you’ll see what they mean.

Keurig’s branding journey has evolved as the company has discovered it’s true purpose. Over the years, Keurig moved beyond a single dimension consumer promise of “brewing excellence one cup at a time”, it incorporated the emotional dimension, “brew the love”. It doesn’t stop there. Keurig shows its true brand authenticity by taking an industry leadership position in environmental and social sustainability, by “Brewing a better world”.

And here’s where things get real. If consumers buy-in to that promise, that Keurig is a company with a conscience, consumed with serving customers and society, then the brand will have successfully built the deepest relationship a company could have with its consumer. Doug Levy and Bob Garfield eloquently state in their 2012 article in AdvertisingAge, how the resonance of an authentic brand among its consumers can have dramatic positive effects:

“…A congruence between the expressed and observable values of the brand and those of its constituencies instills a sense of belonging and sets remarkable dynamics in motion”

In recent years, detractors have accused Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, the parent company of Keurig, of becoming a walking contradiction. How can a leader of environmental stewardship in an industry committed to sustainable practices like ‘fair trade’, make a product built on non-recyclable K-cups?  Those comments were especially pointed in 2011. But it’s what Keurig has been doing behind the scenes that makes them truly authentic. Monique Oxender, Director of Sustainability at Keurig, was invited to MIT Sloan a few weeks ago. Her remarks were focused on the challenges of creating not just a nominally sustainable product, but one that elicits a real partnership between consumers and the environmentally responsible practices they value. It’s one thing to make a recyclable product (something that Keurig has been working on diligently) and completely another to make a product that encourages consumers to enact the final, crucial step of… actually recycling the product. And that’s not all, what happens next matters, too. Where do those ‘recycled’ products go? Not all communities have recycling capabilities, so how do you build them and ensure that what a consumer has consciously recycled finds its way into the system. In short, how can we engage with our customers in living out their values.

It doesn’t have all the answers yet, but Keurig has set ambitious goals to address this universal challenge, one that most other companies would retreat from since it’s outside their “core competency” or “their sphere of influence”. It’s that Keurig actively thinks of how to solve those challenges - and that they don’t need to broadcast it to the world because being sustainable is simply being responsible -  that makes them authentic. That’s why when Keurig says they’re “Brewing a Better World” we can believe they really mean it.

Filed under MITBranding mitsloanbranding keurig green mountain coffee keurig green mountain sustainability

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It’s what’s inside that matters

For today’s next generation of tech startups, advertising seems to be out of fashion. Uber, for example, has refrained from direct marketing, opting instead to rely on word of mouth from satisfied customers. In some cases it has turned to stunt marketing. In 2013, the startup targeted its most loyal in-groups – those who have logged more than 100 rides – with the “Uber VIP” campaign, providing them with exclusive and secret perks. At one point, the popular start-up even allowed users to hail ice-cream trucks with its app during the summer months across 33 cities. This new wave of guerilla advertising is a far cry from one of the most successful and earliest tech advertising campaigns.

Intel was among the pioneers of tech advertising. While other tech companies focused on advertising the specs and benefits of its products, Intel was busy building brand equity among consumers. Scott Goodson, founder of StrawberryFrog and author of Uprising, identifies four key steps in the buying process for technology – or really any – product:

1. You have a need (logical).

2. You list possible brands that could do it for you. (totally emotional).

3. You evaluate them: price, product, service, etc. (once again logical).

4. And then you choose. (Entirely emotional).

The early Intel advertising projects focused steps 1 and 3. Specifically, when in 1989 it found itself struggling to sell its better 386 processors due to the overwhelming success of its predecessor 286 processor, the emerging tech giant launched the “Red X” campaign. Its objective was to educate consumers of the benefits and need to transition to the more capable 386 when consumers found no need to depart from their 286. The initial ads featured no copy, just a red ex through the numbers 286 and a large circle around the number 386. It worked.

In the early 90s, on the heels of its 1989 success, Intel launched its “Intel Inside” campaign. While its objective was to create an umbrella brand for its ever evolving processors, the campaign achieved something much deeper – it triggered the emotional brand loyalty of consumers, the most powerful kind of brand equity. It got to the heart of Goodson’s fourth step – the final, emotion-based choice.

Computers are mysterious objects. Despite their ubiquity, a great majority of consumers have no idea what makes them tick. They might mention words like: processors, motherboards, and much fancier jargon when trying to explain the inner workings – the ‘fake it till you make it’ approach. But the truth is for most people the computer is a magic black-box that just seems to do whatever it is you want it to do. The “Intel Inside” campaign built on and owned that mystery. It told consumers, it’s the Intel inside that makes the computer work work. That’s an answer any average consumer can live with. The “Intel Inside” campaign essentially took the computer design decision out of the hands of OEMs and put it directly into the hands of consumers, the very same ones who know nothing of how the computer works, let alone how best to build one. It is the consumer who on visiting the electronics store recognizes the “Intel Inside” logo, signaling that this machine is powered by the infamous Intel. It is a point of clarity that gives the product credibility. And because they have built an emotional attachment with the ‘what’s inside’ – one cemented by the introduction of Intel’s animated jingle – the consumer will make the ‘what’s inside’ central to the decision making process. Thus, the “Intel Inside” ensured Intel processors would find their way into just about every PC that landed in consumers’ hands. After all, it’s what’s inside that matters.

Filed under MITBranding mitsloanbranding intel intel inside

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Battle of the Brands - Toilets vs. Detergents

What do a manufacturer of toilet seats, a laundry detergent, and two of the world’s biggest consumer packaged goods brands have in common? More than you think, it seems.

In 1997, Argentine consumers found themselves on the front-line of the latest brand war between giants Unilever and Procter & Gamble. At the time, Unilever commanded an 80% market share in Argentina’s detergent category and faced competition from rival P&G through the entry of their Ariel detergent line. In preparation for the introduction of Ariel (P&G), incumbent Unilever ran an ad promoting one of their more obscure minority subsidiary brands, Ariel del Plata - maker of toilet seats. The television spot featured “close ups of rear-ends and toilet seats” as an announcer proclaimed “Ariel, Ariel, Ariel!” The move made Ariel synonymous with toilet seats and other less flattering images in the minds of Argentine shoppers, spoiling P&G’s debut.

The story illustrates the lengths to which brands will go to defend their positioning. According to Tim Calkins, Kellogg Professor and author of “Defending Your Brand”, companies typically employ two strategies to defend themselves against competitors - either attacking the benefits of the alternate brand or highlighting customer risks of switching to it. In his book, Calkins draws from three real world examples - Pampers, Actonel, and the infamous Ariel. 

Source: The Wall-Street Journal (link), Business Insider (link), Strategy+Business (link)

Filed under MITBranding mitsloanbranding proctor and gamble p&g ariel unilever

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What’s in a name?
PwC found itself in a pickle. After pushing forward with the acquisition of Booz & Company for an undisclosed sum in autumn of 2013, they faced the difficult task of rebranding what they envisioned to become the crown-jewel in their consulting service line. PwC was barred from using the name of the 100-year old consulting fixture – one responsible for helping create the NFL or credited with coining the term ‘Supply Chain Management’ – due to legal agreements with the Carlisle Group after the split with Booz Allen Hamilton. Both PwC and Booz & Company’s leadership must have carefully considered the value of an acquisition that would eliminate the target’s brand equity in an industry built on reputation, heritage, and demonstrated value.
What’s in a name? Consider the following thought experiment: all else being equal, would you prefer to work for Booz & Company or Strategy&? The Booz & Company brand carries with it visibility (the oldest consulting firm, founded in 1914, with global operations), associations (responsible for the successful publication Strategy+Business, a partner in developing the annual and globally sited Innovation Index in collaboration with INSEAD, etc.), and customer loyalty (not only are a large portion of its revenues drawn from historic ‘Centurion’ clients, but it has a demonstrated history of attracting and retaining human capital). The acquisition of Monitor provides a good working example of how much equity is carried in a consulting brand name. Deloitte acquired the Monitor Group after it filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2012. The timing of the merger was widely criticized at the time by industry insiders.  Allowing Monitor to fail before acquiring it implied that Deloitte was able to buy the brand only after many of Monitor’s seniors and human capital had already departed the firm for other consultancies. What, many asked, did Deloitte actually buy if not the real capital of the company? The answer: an industry name which they ultimately rebranded as Monitor-Deloitte. Few will remember the circumstances of Monitor’s acquisition, but most will recall their association with Monitor as a niche consultancy built on strong academic and analytic foundations. Conversely, though it lost the name, PwC garnered overwhelming support from Booz & Company partners for the merger and was therefore able to retain a large part of the Booz & Company team. In an industry where talent is ultimately the differentiator, PwC can be forgiven for having been forced to relinquish a name to gain a strategic partner. After all, a more discerning and long-lived client counterpart is far more concerned with quality of advice it receives – so long as it comes from a name it can trust. The true challenge of this acquisition is how PwC integrated and positioned Booz & Company into its brand architecture.
Strategy& - Sadly, it’s not a typo
From a branding perspective, the inability to retain the Booz & Company might actually be an asset for PwC. First, had the Booz name persisted, the powerful associations of the Booz & Company brand would have either been dissipated by its relationship with PwC or would have otherwise overcome its master brand. Simply, two powerful brands cannot succeed side-by-side in a cobrand, endorsed/endorser brand, or sub brand relationship. Second, there would have been a fundamental fit problem between the two brands. The management consulting culture to which Booz & Company belonged is staunchly committed to its classic business model of providing premium strategy consulting to a who’s who of industry leaders. The Booz & Company leadership would have been hard pressed to associate their legacy brand with what they perceive as less desirable operations and implementation consultancy. The opportunity, then, to create an entirely new brand – with new associations, perceptions, and identity – while retaining the essence of the old brand in the form of human capital gave PwC the opportunity to combine the best of both firms. The PwC-Booz experiment is a radical departure from the conventional consulting business model and service platform. It combines the best of Booz & Company – a classic management consultancy – with the power of the PwC network. It is a response to a market need. Clients don’t just want great ideas; they want actionable strategies and delivered results. The new entity will not only provide clients with differentiated solutions to their most pressing problems, it will also help them implement on a global scale. In short, together they are pioneering the strategy-through-execution model, and that deserves a fresh approach and an entirely new brand image.

In this context, it makes perfect sense for PwC to cobrand with its new entity, extending the trust and excellence associated with the PwC brand to endorse its new entity. Furthermore, the inclusion of the token endorsement, “Formerly Booz & Company”, goes a long way in transferring the brand equity from old to new. That said Strategy& - the underwhelming and outrageous new brand replacing Booz & Company – may undercut the courageous mission to transform an industry long overdue for change. It isn’t a brand name most would trust to deliver premium consulting work. This sounds eerily like PwC’s last adventure into creative consulting names; need we be reminded of their short-lived experiment with “Monday” in 2002?

What’s in a name?

PwC found itself in a pickle. After pushing forward with the acquisition of Booz & Company for an undisclosed sum in autumn of 2013, they faced the difficult task of rebranding what they envisioned to become the crown-jewel in their consulting service line. PwC was barred from using the name of the 100-year old consulting fixture – one responsible for helping create the NFL or credited with coining the term ‘Supply Chain Management’ – due to legal agreements with the Carlisle Group after the split with Booz Allen Hamilton. Both PwC and Booz & Company’s leadership must have carefully considered the value of an acquisition that would eliminate the target’s brand equity in an industry built on reputation, heritage, and demonstrated value.

What’s in a name? Consider the following thought experiment: all else being equal, would you prefer to work for Booz & Company or Strategy&? The Booz & Company brand carries with it visibility (the oldest consulting firm, founded in 1914, with global operations), associations (responsible for the successful publication Strategy+Business, a partner in developing the annual and globally sited Innovation Index in collaboration with INSEAD, etc.), and customer loyalty (not only are a large portion of its revenues drawn from historic ‘Centurion’ clients, but it has a demonstrated history of attracting and retaining human capital). The acquisition of Monitor provides a good working example of how much equity is carried in a consulting brand name. Deloitte acquired the Monitor Group after it filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2012. The timing of the merger was widely criticized at the time by industry insiders.  Allowing Monitor to fail before acquiring it implied that Deloitte was able to buy the brand only after many of Monitor’s seniors and human capital had already departed the firm for other consultancies. What, many asked, did Deloitte actually buy if not the real capital of the company? The answer: an industry name which they ultimately rebranded as Monitor-Deloitte. Few will remember the circumstances of Monitor’s acquisition, but most will recall their association with Monitor as a niche consultancy built on strong academic and analytic foundations. Conversely, though it lost the name, PwC garnered overwhelming support from Booz & Company partners for the merger and was therefore able to retain a large part of the Booz & Company team. In an industry where talent is ultimately the differentiator, PwC can be forgiven for having been forced to relinquish a name to gain a strategic partner. After all, a more discerning and long-lived client counterpart is far more concerned with quality of advice it receives – so long as it comes from a name it can trust. The true challenge of this acquisition is how PwC integrated and positioned Booz & Company into its brand architecture.

Strategy& - Sadly, it’s not a typo

From a branding perspective, the inability to retain the Booz & Company might actually be an asset for PwC. First, had the Booz name persisted, the powerful associations of the Booz & Company brand would have either been dissipated by its relationship with PwC or would have otherwise overcome its master brand. Simply, two powerful brands cannot succeed side-by-side in a cobrand, endorsed/endorser brand, or sub brand relationship. Second, there would have been a fundamental fit problem between the two brands. The management consulting culture to which Booz & Company belonged is staunchly committed to its classic business model of providing premium strategy consulting to a who’s who of industry leaders. The Booz & Company leadership would have been hard pressed to associate their legacy brand with what they perceive as less desirable operations and implementation consultancy. The opportunity, then, to create an entirely new brand – with new associations, perceptions, and identity – while retaining the essence of the old brand in the form of human capital gave PwC the opportunity to combine the best of both firms. The PwC-Booz experiment is a radical departure from the conventional consulting business model and service platform. It combines the best of Booz & Company – a classic management consultancy – with the power of the PwC network. It is a response to a market need. Clients don’t just want great ideas; they want actionable strategies and delivered results. The new entity will not only provide clients with differentiated solutions to their most pressing problems, it will also help them implement on a global scale. In short, together they are pioneering the strategy-through-execution model, and that deserves a fresh approach and an entirely new brand image.

In this context, it makes perfect sense for PwC to cobrand with its new entity, extending the trust and excellence associated with the PwC brand to endorse its new entity. Furthermore, the inclusion of the token endorsement, “Formerly Booz & Company”, goes a long way in transferring the brand equity from old to new. That said Strategy& - the underwhelming and outrageous new brand replacing Booz & Company – may undercut the courageous mission to transform an industry long overdue for change. It isn’t a brand name most would trust to deliver premium consulting work. This sounds eerily like PwC’s last adventure into creative consulting names; need we be reminded of their short-lived experiment with “Monday” in 2002?

Filed under MITBranding mitsloanbranding Booz & Company PwC Strategy&

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Revolution of the Skies

Remember when flying was less a chore and more an experience? As a management consultant in the overseas market, I logged tens of thousands of travel miles over the years and rarely kept my feet on the ground for more than two weeks. Flying had become commoditized, operationalized, burdensome, dull, and pedestrian. It wasn’t always so.

Growing up in the US, I spent the better part of the year looking forward to our ritual annual family vacation back to Lebanon. True, I was eager to see family, connect with distant relatives, and explore villages, sites, and cities that collectively made up my family identity – but it was the ‘getting there’ that I most looked forward to. Flying was exotic, it was special; most of my friends had never even been on a plane, let alone one of those big 3-engine DC-10s. The special occasion of flying was punctuated by my parents’ insistence that we dress up for the occasion. It wasn’t until my college years that I dared wear a t-shirt or sweatshirt on the plane and I still can’t bring myself to travel wearing tennis shoes, sneakers, or anything that would remotely be considered comfortable. And of course there was the service that made the event something really special. To make the 10-hour journey the attendants made sure we pillows, blankets, [mostly] good food, even a snack cart in the galley in case you felt puckish. They brought goody bags for the kids and even showed a movie on those old theater-style screens. Personal entertainment screens were a revolution that made the time fly by.

What happened? As the years past, air travel – no matter where you were going – become…ordinary. The frills are gone; there are no more bells and whistles. Good luck getting a pillow, be sure to bring your own snack, and don’t ask for too much. The industry has reduced the experience to something mundane and with it they transformed the traveler – their customer – into a nuisance, their burden. So when I first saw JetBlue’s new ad campaign, it really hit home. We are those pigeons, those winged-rats that no one seems to like and have become a commonplace annoyance! I don’t know that JetBlue has necessarily brought back the “romance of travel”, but they’ve surely taken a step in the right direction.

JetBlue’s strategy will likely payoff in the long run. The reality is that passengers today have accepted that air travel is ordinary and have not only come to tolerate, but also expect, to pay for all the extras. Planes are glorified buses. While the rest of the industry are competing on keeping costs low, JetBlue is attempting to differentiate themselves by being at least humanely low-cost. Their ads communicate the revolutionary idea that you don’t have to sacrifice dignity for value. It’s a heck of a business model too – the marginal cost of making you feel welcome is nothing (just be sure to attract the right employees), but the value-add to the bottom line can mean the difference between eventual bankruptcy in this cutthroat industry and becoming next big thing. Singapore Airlines – the long heralded leader in customer service – they may not be, but their ads express a breath of fresh air for America’s stodgy, irritated, and dying airline industry. 

Filed under MITBranding mitsloanbranding jetblue flying

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Every Great Brand Has a Great Story and the wine industry is no different. Despite multiple experiments proving the equitable taste between Old (e.g., France, Italy, Spain) and New World (e.g., USA, Chile, Australia) wines public perception of the premium quality of French wines persists. Why? In my mind it is simple - great wines have always come from the Old World, they dominate the history, story, and myth of wine-making. They are never absent from the conversation. When speaking of New World Chilean wines, it was the European immigrants who brought with them the tradition of wine-making. The way forward for New World wines, then, is to craft their own story, craft their brand around that story, tell that story to their consumers, and be consistent with the brand.

Before visiting their vineyard in March of 2014, I would never have considered buying a vintage of Dominio Do Bibei. Dominio Do Bibei, as I came to learn, is a vineyard composed of many different terroirs in Galicia, Spain. It is unique insofar as it produces up to 14 different varietals, whereas French producers tend to cultivate a maximum of four. It also creates its wine in a unique, natural way - without the use of pesticides, without even the use of pumps. The wine is passed through production using a gravity-fed plumbing system that integrates well into the steep slopes of the valley that yields its fruit. IN the words of its owner, the beauty of Dominio do Bibie is the fact that it creates an imperfect wine. It is the imperfections that give it its character and the excitement that no two bottle is the same that gives it excitement. Anyone can produce a perfect wine, few can produce one with character.

Lebanon has a long tradition of producing wine. Like Domino do Bibei, the Chateau Belle-Vue has a story all its own. Developed in the years following the Lebanese Civil War, its owners have brought back the age-old tradition of wine making to the village overlooking Beirut. But there is much more to the story. The vineyard has brought peace to a village once a victim of the sectarian violence that plagued Lebanon for more than 25 years. Uniquely, the village of Bhamdoun is home to Muslims, Christians, and Druze - once adversaries divided among political and ideological mindsets. As I learned during a visit in 2013, it was the fear of losing the tradition that encouraged Chateau Belle-Vue that first prompted its revival. The prospect of developers who hoped to transform the landscape into luxury high-rise apartments brought the community together - better to produce wines together than to allow the destruction of their local identity. The natural consequence, of course, was that people who once described themselves as enemies would have to come together. Amazingly, the village has fostered greater ties among the community, no longer seeing themselves as enemies but rather partners in an age-old tradition.

These stories, each one radically different, transforms each experience of the product. No French or Italian wine could replicate the distinct history of these vineyards, making them unique unto their own. If vineyards across the world could tell their own histories, what stories would they relate? how much more valuable would their brands become? 

"The finest wines tell a story, of heritage, passion, or sometimes the quest for that perfect vintage. But only rarely does a wine seek to express our deeply human connection to each other and to the land." (Chateau Belle-Vue)

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Why Some Innovations Change the World

The difference between innovations that succeed and those that fail can be described by the “must have” factor. The Segway was one of those innovations that fascinated the public; it was supposed to transform the way we got from point A to point B – why didn’t anyone buy one? In contrast, Google shelled out $3.2B to acquire Nest, a product that promises to transform the way we…set the thermostat?

The reality is that consumers couldn’t ever wrap their heads around paying thousands of dollars for a product that achieves the same objective as walking (which, need I remind, is free), but without the ridiculous two-wheeled accessory. Nest, on the other hand, has a clear relative advantage over the traditional thermostat, promising to reduce overall energy costs for homeowners. It’s compatible with today’s environmentally friendly values that are sweeping through society. For all those smarts needed to mysteriously regulate the home’s temperature, it’s surprisingly simple - it’s the real life set it and forget it. Finally, you believe it works because your friends have tried it, its social proof is all over the web, and best of all – you can see the results when you get your monthly bill.

MIT’s Copenhagen Wheel might be the next big innovation to sweep the nation. First, the product has a distinct relative advantage over the way we’ve ridden bikes for centuries. Remember when we opted for the car instead of the bike because of that long distance, those steep hills, and that irritating sweat that’s not exactly what you need when you arrive to your office? Check, check, and check – the Copenhagen Wheel is an electric motor for your bike that gives you that extra boost of energy when you need it. It’s smart, it learns the way you ride and acts like a second set of pedals. Sounds complicated! Not at all – you don’t do anything differently, the motor does everything automatically – no buttons, no fuss. It’s compatible with anyone who thinks leading a healthier lifestyle while reducing your carbon footprint might be a good idea. And you’ll know it when you see it thanks to its distinctive red casing. That means it can create free buzz wherever it goes and people will be talking about. Want to try it? Why not integrate it into the multiple bike-share programs available across the US and Europe. The point is, this product has the potential to change the way we think about getting from point A to point B. Sound familiar? But this is no Segway.

https://www.superpedestrian.com/

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