ANZ Bank Retains Most Valuable Banking Brand for 2014

2012-06-17 11.09.11

Rankings. I can take them or leave them.

But Brand Directory’s evaluation of banking brands for 2014, in association with The Banker, does an interesting job of placing a monetary value on the intangible asset that is an organisation’s brand. And this year, as shown below, ANZ pips CommBank at the post, to take out first place in the Australian rankings.

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In simple terms, brand valuation calculates the difference between book value and market capitalisation. But Brand Directory use a range of calculations in an attempt to get a handle on what a brand may actually be worth. Their methodology is called the Royalty Relief Method.

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Now, I prefer more straight up calculations – less opinion and more fact – but there is something quite appealing in the brand strength index. The use of a balanced scorecard across a range of business indicators sounds great. But I digress.

The real reason these kinds of rankings are useful is that they allow those within the business to get a sense of whether the brand is resonating in the marketplace. Not with analysts, but with potential and existing customers. It marks you out as a player or a stayer. And because leaderboards shift and change over time, it helps to determine, relative to your peers, whether your brand/marketing efforts are shifting the dial.

And if I was on the brand side trying to go deeper with these statistics – I’d bring my own, internal knowledge into play. I’d look to assess, year over year, what my spend and resourcing commitment was – so that I had an even better insight into what works or doesn’t. And then maybe, just maybe, there’d be an ROI figure that I could apply to my efforts. But this would be my own little secret. Another intangible that I’d add to my brand value.

Get More from Instagram

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I have been a fan of Instagram for some time. Not just because of the filters … but because it has developed an interesting and engaged community of users. Instagram has become the Flickr that the internet didn’t forget.

But there is a vast difference between using Instagram as an individual and using it as part of your business marketing toolkit. But many of the things that you love about Instagram personally, can be usefully applied professionally – with a couple of caveats:

  • Think with your brand hat on: Consider the content, composition and colour of the photos you are taking. Try to provide some form of visual consistency
  • Let your personal creativity and personality shine: Just because you are working on a professional presence doesn’t mean that it is a personality free zone. You got your job due to your unique talents. Apply these to your Instagram efforts
  • Connect in and connect out: Make sure that your Instagram efforts are connected with your broader marketing and business strategy. Remember, likes are not revenues, so don’t get carried away with a flurry of interest. But do take advantage of the high levels of community engagement available through Instagram – it’s a great way to connect out to your community.

This great presentation on Instagram by Ross Simmonds provides some fantastic guidelines for doing more with Instagram together with samples of brands that are doing the right things.

Note to Brands: Make Things People Want

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Have you ever wondered why marketing and advertising is such hard work?

We are constantly trying to change the way that people behave and think – positioning brands and businesses in the centre of a relationship that is only ever on the peripheral of our customers’ worlds. And while for us – for the business owner, brand manager or agency – there is a real centrality to our relationship with the brand, it is simply not the case for the vast majority of the people that we want to talk to.

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As Hugh MacLeod explained back in 2006, “if you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face”.

And while social media awareness has become widespread, many businesses still struggle with it. Where’s the ROI they ask. Where’s the relevance? How will it drive sales? And while these are important questions, they are important questions for a mature channel. Very few businesses have the knowledge, expertise and capability to determine the answers – let alone the capacity to integrate these answers into a comprehensive brand and engagement framework. The channel has matured but our organisational understanding of it continues to lag.

But there is another way.

Rather than making people want things – spending our precious resources creating awareness, inspiring interest and stimulating desire in our customer base, what if we just made things that people want?

What of we went further – and understood our customer’s journey from the outside-in? So, rather than pushing messages out designed to interrupt and stimulate – what if we could participate and engage? What if we provided so much incentive, surprise and delight that this engagement prompted purchase, created a business relationship or turned a “detractor” into an advocate?

What if what we did made someone’s life better?

John Willshare argues exactly this – that brands are fracking the social web – and missing the real opportunity presented by digital and social media.

But what can you do? Practically? Why don’t you start:

  • Small: Rather than thinking of the vision that will change the world, what is your vision that will change one person’s experience of what you do. Have the big vision in your back pocket, but start as small as you can bear.
  • Quick: Stop thinking about doing and start acting. Raid the petty cash tin and think about what you can do with a budget you can hold in one hand.
  • Inclusive: Don’t sit in a room planning – go talk to your customers. Engage with them on social media. Bring them into your process

And I bet that within a week you’ll have a deeper understanding of the problems your customers want you to solve than you have resources to deliver. And that’s the whole point, surely.

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A Date with Lindsay Lohan. Or How Celebrity Adds Punch to Your Brand

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If there is one thing I love, its when people are publicly honest. Or self-deprecatingly honest. Or self-deprecatingly honest in public. But I love this even more when the person at the centre of the confession is famous. Or hyper-famous, like Lindsay Lohan.

So, imagine that you are the brand manager for eHarmony, the dating site, and you notice that your social media mentions are going through the roof. What could it be? A crisis? A catastrophe? Another cat picture?

Maybe it’s a parody by Funny or Die. Featuring Lindsay Lohan.


Brand Storytelling: Teradata’s Case of the Tainted Lasagna

51: CSI: Investigates!

Brand storytelling can be hard work. Not only are there all the internal hurdles to overcome, sign-offs and legal checks and so on – there is also the challenge of subject matter. What do you do if you have a complex product or solution that you are trying to explain? Which channels do you choose – and how do you incorporate social media into the mix.

I was recently speaking with a financial services industry CEO who lamented that they have the most boring product in the world. He couldn’t see how it would resonate with a social media-savvy audience.

But social media is not broadcast – especially in B2B (business-to-business) marketing. You’re not trying to reach and engage millions of people – you are (or should be) focused on the buyer’s journey and helping to ease your customer’s decision making process. That means selecting the most appropriate channel – and delivering content that provides very specific value to your customer at their point of need. And brand storytelling can form a very powerful component of your content strategy and lead nurturing program.

Still unsure of how this might work for you and your brand?

Enterprise software vendor, Teradata, have been experimenting with brand storytelling for some time and have taken a novel approach that you may want to steal (I mean “learn from”). Tapping into pop culture’s interest in forensic analysis (a la CSI), they have created a series of videos that take a new approach to case studies and product/solution brochures. The “Business Scenario Investigations” or “BSI” team dramatize business problems and then showcase how technology can be used to “solve” the problem.


Each of their videos can be found on the BSI: Teradata Facebook page as well as the YouTube channel. They cleverly provide a powerpoint version of the scenario via Slideshare and share the storyboarding process from problem definition to casting through to resolution.  And while the case of the tainted lasagna may not be to your taste, it’s likely to be very appealing to those CIOs and CMOs wanting to understand how data can transform their businesses. And that’s tasty. Very tasty indeed.

51: CSI: Investigates! Kit via Compfight

Let Your Customers Tell the Story of Your Brand

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We have lived for many years with the illusion of control. We believed that we could:

  • Control the experience of our brand
  • Manage the way our brand was represented
  • Dictate the messaging people used when discussing our brand

To administer this, and to reinforce our sense of ownership of our brand, we created processes, guidelines and tools of management that enforced consistency, clarity and style. We measured our control in pixels and pantone colours. And we sat at our desks in the contented glow of our three ring binders, style guides and brand books.

And because we controlled the medium in which our brands were discussed (or at least paid large sums to those broadcasting our messages), we came to see this belief in control as truth. This, in time, made us happy.

And then along came the web. It was billed as a levelled playing field but it was really a simulation of what had gone before – the means of publishing production remained centralized, controlled and administered. But a new power was created. The ascendency of the geeks was underway and the promise of the world wide web remained tantalisingly close – veiled behind layers of code and techno-speak.

It was not until the advent of the social web that publishing, distribution and creation was democratized (of course, consumption is another question). Now, anyone with an internet connection (yes, even mobile), can engage in the publishing process.

This social media free-for-all remains a challenge for many brands. In fact, despite Australian audiences ranking amongst the most avid consumers of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, many companies still tread warily around the edges of social without a clear strategy to engage, participate or simply listen.

But for every story of risk and corporate fear, we also see celebrations. For whether we like it or not, our customer use the products and services we create – generating unique experiences and amazing results.


Look what happens when high school student Melody Green produces a video documentary of her school science experiment. Not only does she tell the powerful and exciting story of a young girl learning about high altitude science (should be more of it) … it generates story after story:

Getting behind this kind of momentum is a brilliant move by GoPro and the High Altitude Science folks. It’s a great example of what can happen when you do let your customers tell the story of your brand. But it’s amazing what happens when you not only let that story be told, but you actively promote that as PART of your brand.

Just think … you could do that too. Today rather than obsessing over the negative, shine a little light on the great things your customers say. It might just amaze you.

The Brand Behind Your Buttons

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Sometimes the most important aspects of brand experience happen below the level of our consciousness. Think of the sound that is made when you close the door of your car. Manufacturers spend millions researching, designing and engineering that experience. Same with the exhaust note of a Harley Davidson. All of this careful thinking and planning has been crafted to heighten and differentiate your experience of a PARTICULAR brand.

This approach should also be applied to the digital domain.

Over the last dozen years or so, I have built a number of online platforms for clients or employers. Each time, I have focused on designing not just a “user interface” but an on-brand experience. And this process begins, surprisingly, with buttons.

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Marc Hemeon, designer at YouTube, eloquently connects the use of web buttons with brand experience. He proposes “the button test” – and sets a surprisingly easy challenge. Can you pick the brands that use the style and colour of the buttons shown in the image? I bet you can. But more than that … can you pick the call to action, the behaviour and your sense of intention that is connected to that button? That’s the important and interesting part!

When I am thinking through and planning a digital platform, I focus on user behaviour and intention. I plan for interaction and process but I also take a leaf out of Amazon’s books. I plan for trademarking. Imagine coming up with a single button that brands an experience, explains a process and corresponds with an inherent behaviour. It’s the digital equivalent of a “Kleenex” – where the act of using a tissue has become synonymous with the company that produces the product. Amazon’s 1-click purchase button is the prime example.

As Marc’s button test shows, the smallest element on your website delivers brand impact. Maybe we should pay more attention to the digital brand experience rather than just making the logo bigger.

Logos and the Psychology of Colour

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In the process of building new brands, there are three steps that I love:

  1. Naming: The naming of your new brand can be fraught – but should be fun. Coming up with a name that is descriptive enough for your customers but imaginative enough to draw them in can take far longer than you can imagine. Then once you have a name, securing and registering it can take time and more than a little money. There are some agencies dedicated to naming, and if you have a big budget it would be fabulous to work with them … but if you’re running a startup, chances are you’ll be doing the naming over a few beers with your mates. Be sure to think through the various combinations of the name and how it will be used. After all, you don’t want to follow the example of promo pen company Pen Island.
  2. Planning: No surprise here – but I get quite a kick out of the planning process. From building out the communications architecture through to building out the business case, planning is an important step for any startup. You’ll be amazed what you can learn in a couple of days – and the research and analysis (not to mention the discipline) will hold you in good stead as you start to seek funding and build your core team.
  3. Visual design: Most people think that branding is about logos. A logo is just part of the branding process … but it does need to be given time and attention. And budget always helps. Even if you have budget, it still helps greatly to provide a solid brief to your designer – which is where your planning will help. Make sure you share your research and thinking – explain the various use cases and audiences that your new business will impact. Provide a list of “attributes” that describe your brand. Be clear about the vision you have for the future of your brand. All this information should soak into the appearance of your logo and the visual design of your band.

Now that you have a name, some understanding of the potential of your business and some ideas for your logo, take that list of attributes and find them in the list in this infographic from MuseDesign. Pay special attention to other logos that you see and that you admire. Think about how they are using colour to engage you emotionally. What can you learn from great logos? Which designs make your heart jump?

After all, if you want your brand to be memorable, you’ll need all the branding help you can get.

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A Little Joy to Start Your Week

Ode to Joy Flashmob


Flashmobs tend to feel too smug to be joyous. But this one produced for Spanish bank, Banco Sabadell works wonderfully. As explained:

Earlier this summer, the bank brought together 100 musicians and singers from the Orchestra Simfonica del Valles, Amics de l’Opera de Sabadell, Coral Belles Arts, and Cor Lieder Camera to perform the anthem of the European Union — Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from his Symphony No. 9. It all happens in the Plaça de Sant Roc in Sabadell, Spain, a little north of Barcelona. Perhaps this will put a smile on your face. Maybe you’ll even shed a tear. One way or another, make sure you turn up your speakers….

Via Open Culture with thanks to Steve Woodruff.

Invisible Digital is the Force for Next Generation Branding

Next Generation Branding Happens from the Outside In

Apple does it. Amazon does it. Nike does it. Google does it too.

All are ranked in the top 50 of the 2012 BrandZ most valuable global brands report. Yet even within this exclusive collection of brands, some stand out from others. It’s not just that they encompass all that represents a strong brand as suggested in the report – “innovation, trust, reputation, responsible citizenship” – but something far more important. They are brands that exist from the outside in – brands that are created by the consumer experience that radiate back towards the company.

And they achieve this through the innovative use of digital strategy.

Apple’s Innovation: Invisible Digital

The excitement around the launch of any Apple product is palpable. From the first iPod through to the latest incarnation of iPhone, Apple has mastered the art of slow burn communication. There are various “leaks”, glimpses and mockups that find their way into the online world. Rumours of impending announcements are made and message boards, blogs and social media sites explode in anticipation. Meanwhile, the retail experience is perfected – employees are briefed and educated, supply chain is primed and inventory is delivered. And often, as in the case of the iPhone 5, the announcement is simply an exercise in expectation setting – it’s a pre-announcement of an announcement, a pre-launch of the launch. After the announcement, products can be pre-ordered online, ready for delivery or pick up after the launch.

It’s a carefully orchestrated strategy designed to prime the market and maximise sales. It is an experience that uses digital to connect the dots – from expectation setting through ordering to delivery. And yet, it’s a digital experience that does not call out its existence. At almost every touchpoint, customers experience a sense of digital innovation without the accompanying sense of interruption or dislocation. It’s digital that is invisible.

  • Invisible digital drives footfall: Retailers understand the importance of footfall – of having people physically in your stores – and Apple is no exception. But while many retailers struggle to drive people into store, Apple can orchestrate vast queues of people to line up for hours just to pick up their new device. Sure, these customers could choose to have their iPhones delivered to their home, but that would exclude them from a very public ritual that is beamed by mainstream media around the world. Orders may be placed online, but fulfilment (in all its senses), is delivered in person.
  • Invisible digital orchestrates engagement: Apple chooses not to actively participate in social media, ploughing their efforts into activities which create remarkable experiences for their customers. Whether it is an ad hoc visit, a reservation at the Genius Bar or the excitement of picking up  a new device, the free WiFi at the Apple Store ensures that customers can create conversations around this experience, taking photographs, blogging, sharing and tweeting.
  • Invisible digital casts a brand halo: When we purchase a product or service we are investing a small amount of our reputation into a brand. And as we use that product or service there is a cross-halo effect that takes place – we share our own reputational glow with that brand and the brand, in turn, reflects upon us. Invisible digital allows this to happen seamlessly – and with each micro-interaction, the personal and public brand becomes ever more closely aligned.

The Bottom Line: Invisible Digital Sets the Stage for Next Generation Branding

Google claimed top ranking in the 2007 BrandZ report with Apple well down the list at 16th. It seemed at the time that Google were unassailable. Five years later, they are ranked 3rd behind IBM, and have suffered a 3% drop in their brand valuation (with a brand valuation that is only 60% of Apple’s $182 million). The need to innovate is relentless, but innovation must not focus on technology alone. Innovating the customer experience must become a priority for brands and invisible digital may be the key.

Invisible digital is not about technology in the traditional sense. The technology simply enables a flow that transports customers from one experience to another. The touchpoints, the interactions and ultimately, the aggregation of experiences creates next generation brands. Some brands understand how this works. Others must accelerate their efforts and investigations or risk falling further behind.