the grass is greener on the internet

No value in brand valuation?
February 20, 2009, 11:37 pm
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I get the feeling Wally Olins likes to stir things up.

Yes, THAT Olins…of Wolff Olins fame, though now with Saffron.

Design Week has just published an excerpt of his latest book, ‘The Brand Handbook’, in which he claims that brand valuation is absolutely useless for all purposes except ego boosting.

It’s harsh but he does have a point when he says that it’s incredibly difficult to quantify a brand. A brand is not a financial value. To get anywhere near close to an accurate measurement you’d need an algorithm more complex than Google search.

Brand value is also more volatile than politics in a recession and can be just as irrational.

And yet Interbrand still ranks brand value yearly, with companies like Coca-cola, Nike, Apple and Disney coming out on top.

Is it just for ego?

In short…I’d say no. It’s an attempt by management to recognise that there are intangible assets that affect a company’s performance. Brand value is a significant factor in decision-making – the easiest way to make sure that it would be considered was to incorporate it into existing processes by giving it a numeric value.

Companies demand a minimum return on any investment made. The issue is how to justify the monetary investment needed to create a brand by showing that return.

I don’t have answers on how this can be done.

All I can say is that it’s not ideal, but with the current paradigm of decision-making brand valuation is the only way to ensure that it gets the investment that is required.


No logo?
September 7, 2008, 8:45 pm
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Just realised that branding industry veterans Wolff Olins do not in fact have a logo.

Interesting… It’s generally considered to be a significant factor in branding, though they state on their website that ‘it’s not just about putting logos everywhere’.

Extreme way to prove it?

True, the Wolff Olins name alone holds a lot of cred (and is very distinctive). However, I’m reading ‘Corporate Identity’ by Wally Olins and I think it is generally pinned as a design book…and here’s his firm taking a clear position about the significance of logos. (Then again, a lot of the logo designs associated with their work have been criticised a lot lately.)

They’ve shown on their ‘about’ page that they can show their name in many different ways, which might have a versatility message. (Visual pun with an anti-capitalism statement?) But does that confuse their identity? I wonder what they put on their business cards…

This matters so much for a branding agency…if they can’t brand themselves, why would anyone else want to use them?

We all scream for…corporate identity
September 7, 2008, 1:21 pm
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The simplest, and one of the most effective branding efforts would have to be Haagen-Dazs.

The logo’s simple, classic – that understated look which says ‘we don’t need to try, because we’re just good’. (Sorry, Avis.) It’s quite traditional, embodying the brand. The focus is on the name, which to a non-European sounds like it could perhaps be, say, Swiss. Those Swiss people live in cold places, they must make good ice-cream, right?

Well, ask any Haagen-Dazs fan. And they won’t be able to tell you, because the company was actually started in the US by a Polish immigrant. Not that you could really tell from their official company history, which is brilliantly brand-centric and well-written to boot.

The only part I don’t like is their use of the phrase ‘frozen dessert experiences’. It’s very technically accurate for their range, and highlights that want to sell not just a product but an experience. However I think it’s just that – too technical. People list that they like ice-cream. They don’t tell their friends they just had an amazing frozen dessert experience. If your branding is executed well, the experience should be self-evident. (Even if you’re picking it out from between the beer and the juice in 7-11 at a drunken 4am.) 

I love that they’ve gone that extra step to preserve their brand, and have registered ‘made like no other’. More than insurance for their brand, it shows that they’re willing to put money behind their key brand proposition.

I guess though, the most important and telling sign that they believe in their brand proposition is that their ice-cream is amazing.

Perhaps then then some of the worst branding is Made in Poland. Isn’t it ironic that they need to pretend to be from another country to be recognised for how good they are?

[Realising that Haagen-Dazs is American was all that could beat the shock that Tod’s is Italian…now that is confusing.]