Archive for the ‘Brand Culture’ Category

The new ID-ology is at www.IDbranding.com/idology

We’re relocating our blog to www.IDbranding.com/idology and we’ve made some great new improvements that allow our readers a better glimpse at who we are and what exactly our agency has to contribute to this whole branding thing. Our entire archive of articles has been migrated to the new site–so don’t worry about losing any of our classic posts, its all there waiting for you. Thanks for listening, learning, and contributing, we’ll see you at the new ID-ology!


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We’re taking a page from Dante, who gave himself permission to put anyone he wanted into Inferno or Paradiso. Likewise, we invite you to do the same with brands. Tell us which brands you think are the best and which are the worst. You’ll be able to see how others have voted once you’re done. We think its an interesting exercise in analyzing how brands affect us and how we think of them. So get all judgmental and make your picks.

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Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs

A Landor study, as reported in AdWeek, shows that 70% of people are willing to pay a premium for products from brands that are socially responsible.

This is what we’ve been saying about Brand Culture and the role of values in the world of today’s consumers. People are voting with their pocketbooks. People care about doing the right thing, and not supporting the wrong thing. People want corporations and brands to stand for something larger than the profit motive.

Hear that, business schools? Hear that, Goldman Sachs? The pure profit motive days are over. You’re just the last to know.

Are you listening, brands? Are you listening, C-suite? The way to sell more whatever it is you sell is not to try to manipulate people with advertising. The way to sell more is to be a values-driven organization. To stand for something important. The opportunities for doing so are vast and exciting. The rewards are many.

Thank you, Landor, for quantifying this.

– Doug

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Grant McCracken

Hmmm. I smell a juicy topic. Courtesy, once again, of the anthropologist of consumption, Grant McCracken.

In his most recent blog post, McCracken asks why our culture tells such horror stories about our economic system, capitalism.

And it’s true. In a way. Although I do think that, in some corners, some households, some rooms of our bastions of higher learning, a different kind of story about capitalism is being told. But mostly to capitalists, or wanna-be capitalists.

Yet, as McCracken points out, capitalism is the unsung hero (because he’s not classically heroic) who owns a handful of dry cleaning shops, that’s employing people’s moms and dads and sponsoring little league teams and, at the same time, keeping us all in freshly-laundered duds.

Kwakiult spoon clearly designed to drive consumption

I wonder if this whole demonizing of an economic system that, from empirical evidence, is at least currently preferred to any other in most parts of the world, isn’t due to a bigger rift in how we see ourselves and our culture.

Because an economic system is just as much a cultural artifact as a building or a symphony or a set of  dishes. It’s as much manufactured by humans as any other part of what we call culture. And yet, in a way that strikes me as historically unusual, the economic system is deeply separated from many other parts of our culture, and neither sees itself as beholding to or dependent upon the rest of our swirl of human meaning. And our human lives.

Capitalism is not integrated with the rest of culture in the way it should be. If it were, it wouldn’t be seen as alien in the first place, and it wouldn’t act as if it’s not dependent on both the natural and human eco-system which it occupies.

Blatent consumerism supported by Aztec corn god

My guess is that part of this comes from specialization. When a person wants to go into business they study business. They don’t necessarily study philosophy, religion, history, biology, literature, music, dance, theatre, and all the other contexts in which business lives. In other words, business students don’t study the culture and the environment which business is supposed to serve. It’s seen as having its own laws, its own purposes, which are centered on creating profit for shareholders.

Whereas, throughout human history (and pre-history, we may suppose), the economic system is a means, not an end in itself.

Likewise, those who don’t study business feel victimized by this alien system that seems to be serving no one they know and doesn’t have a regard for non-business things.

To me, this is what the whole new values-based branding model is all about. We are finally trying to re-align our economic system with our larger cultural needs, as well as the needs of the planet. And not just our material needs, but our spiritual needs as well.

Which is what makes this moment in branding particularly exciting for me. As it should be for you. For all of us.

– Doug

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The bees are buzzing

We just created this nifty little device for monitoring conversations, tweets, media reports, etc. on certain topics. We call it “The Buzz.” Right now we are monitoring electric cars. And not just the big brands, but rather some of the innovative upstarts. Check it out here. Go ahead, click on a bee and see what happens.

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OK, yeah, it’s a useful idea, this whole “brand butler” trend, as reported on trendwatching.com. Essentially it says, make yourself useful. Do something on behalf of your customers that they’d like done for them. Build an app that helps people find ATM machines, etc.

A really good idea, no question. But what is all this serving serving?

Because if you’ve got a brand that people don’t connect to on a deeper level, it doesn’t matter that much if you just give them an app they like. They’re going to say Thanks and then patronize your competitor who’s done a better job of articulating a set of values and then living those values, day in, day out.

No one is fooled when a loser does you a favor. They’re still a loser.

It’s so discouraging to read yet another article telling people the one thing they should do this year. Suggestions like this don’t go to the root of the problem, which is: if you’re not already thinking this way, you’ve got bigger issues. You probably don’t have a clear, deeply-held set of values driving everything your brand does. You’re probably still trying to manipulate people into buying your products or services.

You’re still thinking in the old model. And it’s dead, folks. Patrick Swayze. Fess Parker. Even deader.

The biggest problem with the whole brand butler idea is that it’s a tactic, it’s not a strategy. A strategy is when you have a big picture plan which is being served by such tactics. A strategy is turning your brand into a meaning-making machine and delivering substance to your audiences. A strategy is adopting the frame of mind that would lead you to say, “So what can we do on behalf of our audience? Do they need help finding ATMs?” Because once you’ve taken on that frame of mind, you will naturally be doing all kinds of things which could be called brand butlers.

A tactic is when someone in the room says, “Yeah, we otta get one of those things, those brand butler things, y’know? ‘Cause people like those things.”

If you’re creating brand butlers strategically you’ll know why you’re doing them. You’ll know what they serve. Which is your brand’s values, and the people who identify with those values – and with your brand.

– Doug

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The Michelin Man brings it in Logorama

Watch your favorite brands in an epic battle to save themselves from themselves in this Oscar-nominated short film. Censored on YouTube, watch it here.

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