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Branding

Note: The following speech entitled "The Birds' Nests and Global Brands" was provided by Ogilvy & Mather for inclusion in AEF's Inside Advertising Presentation Book. It's Ogilvy specific but you may wish to adapt it.


Advertising is an exciting business to be in. But I warn you in advance that advertising people aren't always as exciting as the work we produce. I sometimes find that when I speak to groups like this, my audience slowly enters a deep, trance-like state.

So let's work with that. Relax. Close your eyes if you like, and breathe deeply. In… and out. Again: in… and out. You're very, very relaxed. And that's good.

Now, I'm going to say a word, and you are going to form an impression around that word. You may think of a color. Or an attitude. Maybe an experience you've had, or people that you associate with the word I'm about to say.

And the first word is… Heineken. What do you think of? What's different about a party where Heineken is served as opposed to, say, Bud Light?

Here's another word… SONY. What does the word SONY bring to mind? What color is it? If SONY were to introduce a car, what would it be like, a SONY car.

Here are some more. What impressions come to mind when I say… L'Oreal… Adidas … and Nokia.

Did you see images of France, Germany and Finland? Probably not. All these brands are from outside the United States, but nothing about them is foreign. They're all part of our experience as Americans. And our impressions of these brands is often intensely personal. A memorable road-trip in a Volkswagen Jetta will forever color our impression of that brand in ways that have nothing to do with its German engineering or their latest ad campaign.

And when "American" brands travel, they're likewise shaped by local and personal experience. In some countries, a box of Kleenex is a highly-regarded wedding gift. (But please, don't try this at home!)

My talk today is about global brands. I don't have to tell anyone in this audience that global brands are sometimes equated with cultural imperialism - although I don't see a lot of people getting worked up about the dominance of cell phones from Finland or Korean DVD players.

Globalization used to mean homogenization. But as markets develop, trying to sell the same thing in the same way to everybody, everywhere doesn't work so well any more.

What we're learning is that simply projecting a successful home country solution around the world is no longer enough to guarantee significant advantage.

One obvious reason is that competition is getting stronger and coming from more places. But there's another reason, one that gives all of us brand managers something to think about. Listen to Harvard Business School professor Peter Williamson, writing in the Financial Times...

"...Most managers have approached globalization with the same basic strategy: perfect your product, service or process at home and spread it around the world. As more companies pursue this arbitrage strategy successfully, competition in different markets becomes more similar: you find the same rivals, products, technologies everywhere... More homogeneity means more perfect competition, more commoditization of products, services and strategies. And that is bad.

"And that," he tells us, "is bad." Competitive pressures are making our offerings to consumers more alike ... when what we really want to be is more different! Brilliant branding can supply that differentiation, but many - if not most - brands with global dreams aren't nearly as differentiated as we like to think they are.

The reason is that most of what makes a brand a Brand doesn't go with it when you export it around the world. Because a brand isn't a thing that you can just send somewhere. A brand is the relationship with the consumer. In the middle 1990s at Ogilvy we began to make understanding this relationship the center of our practice. It's an amazingly transforming way to look at your business: You own the trademark, but the consumer owns the brand.

That's because the brand is not just what you say it is, the brand is the totality of what the consumer experiences. It's created in the privacy of their hearts and minds, based on all their experiences with you: what they've seen, what they've heard, and all their contacts with the brand, direct and inadvertent, that add up over time. It's all these little "moment of truth" experiences that define the brand and shape the relationship, for good or for ill. As consumers ourselves, we all know that how a complaint gets handled can have an irrevocable effect on how we perceive a brand. But as brand managers, think how much more time you spend reviewing the art direction for an ad campaign than for a new design of your customers' billing statements. We've actually measured that how a bill looks can affect how people see a brand - far out of proportion to what you actually spend to make the change. It's a little thing, but it's a piece of your brand that people actually handle. Another moment of truth.

From the consumer's perspective, every contact counts - and you can't always know how much. An individual consumer never experiences the wonder of our Global Strategies. Nor does she ever see all the fabulous communications we've prepared for her, the way we do on our conference room walls. Consumers build brands the way birds build nests. I'm quoting Jeremy Bullmore, a brilliant marketing thinker who equated the building of the relationship between a product and a consumer simply: "Consumers build brands like birds build nests, from scraps and straws they chance upon".

Based on insufficient evidence, individual consumers use their own "patchwork logic" to construct our brands and form their judgments. But that's not always how we manage our brands. Most global brands have been managed this way... A global message with the grudging adaptations that local markets require. This looks great from Headquarters, but it minimizes the importance of the very consumer that you're trying to build a relationship with!

At Ogilvy, we have much better luck when we turn the brand telescope around: When we Think Local and Act Global. When we start with the consumer, we not only have a better relationship, we usually gain new insights and new ideas that we can bake back into our global brands. When the telescope looks both ways, a great idea in South Africa can improve our brand everywhere.

The most important single thing I can share with you is that everything that really matters to consumers is local. Not simply in the geographic sense, but in all the ways they actually experience our brands. All those random little encounters that add up to sometimes life-long judgments.

Advertising is part of it, absolutely. In 1955, David Ogilvy told us, "Every advertisement must contribute to the complex symbol that is the brand image." That's still true. And our clients buy a lot of advertising. But what they want is customers for life.

Now it's our daily practice to consider every point of contact, from the Web site to your packaging, to line extensions, to the retail environment, to product displays to sponsorships and joint ventures, to corporate reputation, public relations, public opinion and word-of-mouth, to the service experience, to the delivery trucks, to the way the telephone is answered and complaints are responded to, to the attitudes and customs of your employees... It is the customer's experience of the brand, in all of these manifestations - including advertising - that creates the brand relationship.

Getting all that right is a tall order in just one market, never mind the world. And it's even harder when some of your consumer moments of truth are delivered by people you don't control, like channel partners or local alliances. But for good or for ill, every little bit adds to the brand. Every point of contact builds and modifies the impression of the most valuable assets most companies have. To Help. Or hurt. Or confuse.

So how do you manage all that?

The heart of what we call Brand Stewardship is the fullest possible understanding of how consumers perceive the brand: how they put all the bits and scraps and inputs together.

Nothing is more important. That's why we spend a lot of our time with clients not talking about ads, but rather ideas -- about what their brand is, what it stands for, who are the consumers who are truly brand loyal…and why. How does this brand affect them, what is their experience? What should it be?

That is a long way from just putting the tag-line on everything, or making all the work look alike - what some people call the "Wall Test". You're not trying to make clones, you're trying to make a difference. Which means designing every piece of work to do its particular job, while providing a relevant experience that builds the brand.

What we call 360 Degree Branding recognizes that there is a myriad of ways a consumer must be communicated with, and that all these communication touch-points need a unifying strategy around which multiple disciplines can work as a team for the brand. This is our fundamental operating strategy today, and we've built a business model around it. One that's refreshingly simple: We focus on brands; we focus on delivering brands in a 360 way, and focus on our work with current clients.

Now, of course, not all of the points of contact are directly controlled by us, but increasingly, we can and do coordinate and advise our clients far beyond the traditional territories. We have consulted on lobby displays, employee communications, trade show entertainment, graphic and brand design, packaging, PR, promotions and joint ventures. (We've even had some input into theme park design.) To do it all we are developing new ways of working, new structures, new joint ventures and partnerships. Because our clients are looking for solutions.

And - here's the kicker - a funny thing happens when we make the consumer's experience the center of our work. The more the world and technology and the marketing environment changes, the better for our clients' brands. Because while competitors are tying to sort out which new channels are worth investing in, and consumers are deciding what's meaningful and what's just noise... we have more ways to create intimate moments of truth. We have more ways to be inventive across a huge and growing array of media, old and new. We have more ways to take a simple idea and make it a large idea ... to create the moments that our clients' brands can lead.

Now I'd like to show you some of those moments...

POND'S

Here is an example of how an advertising idea can morph into other manifestations of the brand. In the early 1990s, Pond's growth had stalled. A new generation of consumers saw Pond's as their mother's cold cream - anything but a source of relevant, contemporary expertise in skin care.

What Pond's had was authenticity: We learned that women didn't see Pond's as "cosmetic" - Pond's had substance. Which we could build on to develop a new relationship with consumers. So we created in advertising a place that would bring bring Pond's authenticity to life, and give the brand permission to bring out a new kinds of products. We called it "The Pond's Institute." Similar advertising ran all over the world to great effect, and today Pond's has become one of Unilever's most important global brands sold in 84 countries.

Of course, when the Web came along, we realized the Institute could be more than just an advertising idea -- it could be a virtual place. So we created one for the Hong Kong market: A virtual Pond's Institute that offered real time skin care expertise and beauty advice. It helped make Pond's the Number One brand in that market.

Then Thailand went us one better. They created an actual Ponds' Institute. Coming full circle from the original ad idea, they built a Pond's Institute retail outlet with all the look and feel of the original advertising. Full circle, with the Pond's Institute both representing and embodying the brand. Great advertising can set a tone for the brand, a context, a set of values. But the real trick to branding is to capitalize on that tone, that feeling, that initial spark of connection and create enduring brand connections.

Now I don't mean it has to be as literal as the Pond's case… but as anyone who has ever been to a NikeTown will attest, that retail environment itself is a very powerful part of the brand communication. It amplifies the brand. These NikeTowns do more than display sportswear. They are virtual temples to the athletic spirit - but with a certain, unmistakable Nike aura.

(And here's an interesting factoid: the more space they afford to the "brand" in the store, the more merchandise they sell… completely counter to the principles of retailing, but completely in accord with the principles of branding!)


IBM

The IBM story is about creating the moment for a brand to lead.

When the Internet was emerging as The Next Big Thing, IBM was seen as old news - the makers of "your father's mainframe" and a company that many felt had lost its way. Few analysts believed that IBM would ever catch up, let alone lead, in the new world of Internet business. That's when Lou Gerstner, the new CEO, decided to bet the whole company on a single idea. E-Business. "E-Business" defined ... and branded the emerging category we hoped to lead. It established IBM's ownership of the high ground where customers were going. And it was more than an ad campaign - it was IBM's business strategy. Like Henry Ford, who told people they could have any color car they wanted, so long as it was black, Lou Gerstner told IBMers they could do anything they wanted, so long as it was E-Business.

Putting a brand mark all over the planet sounds about as "Global" as you can get: An easy "wholesale" solution that works everywhere. And I just told you that all consumers are local! But the "e" was - and is - just the tip of the iceberg.

To give IBM's audiences enough "bits and straws" to totally change their idea of the brand, we had to produce (literally!) tens of thousands of different communications - for people in different disciplines... at different levels of their organization... in different industries... in different countries... at different stages of technology development. In some markets, the Internet itself - the focus of all IBM's efforts - was all but unknown. But not for long.

In markets that had television, our global 360-Degree Brand campaign was led by commercials.

Television set the stage for all the other communication. It created a tone, a reassurance, an aura of wry confidence, and accessibility for IBM that helped us to articulate the message in other media.

Every medium had a job: Television defined the opportunity. Print told real customer stories. On the Web we created distinctive, interactive demonstrations that drove visitors to case histories. Outdoors, we shrink-wrapped buses with the e-business message on strategic routes. We used direct mail and industry events to hit specific targets. Part of the solution was "selling the brand inside" where we helped IBM orchestrate a comprehensive employee communication program so that every IBM employee, in every division, knew from Day One what e-business meant for them and their customers.

Some of our "outbound" communications did double-duty inside IBM. Ads like these for IBM Global Services celebrated the rare talents that only an IBM could bring to a client's problem... (Does anyone here need an Urdu-speaking Distance Learning specialist?) ...while holding up real-life models of what the new e-business IBM was all about.


HUGGIES

It's hard to imagine anything more universal, more global, than the bond between a mother and her baby. That's what makes the HUGGIES brand so much fun to work on. "Happy Babies" is what the HUGGIES brand is all about and it's the kind of brand idea that's easy to project around the world.

HUGGIES is dear to my heart. I've worked on HUGGIES for 18 years and I've spent time in every major market where HUGGIES Happy Babies live. As we rolled out the HUGGIES brand around the world we learned, market by market, that what we hoped was a Universal Truth really was true!

So true, that HUGGIES brand stewards in local markets started creating advertising that was every bit as insightful and compelling as our geniuses in New York were making. For most of the people in this room that's obvious, but it was a big discovery on the HUGGIES business. And it's made a huge difference. Now HUGGIES is taking advantage of consumer insights from all our different markets and baking them back into the brand. The whole world is our Creative Department and we can leverage their local solutions to improve everywhere.

Since the early 80s, we've produced some 250 HUGGIES commercials that run in 40 countries. Nearly half of these spots were made outside the United States. And now more and more of them are coming back to run in the US market. Some of these "imports" then go on to run in still another market, even ones as different as Thailand, when they turn out to be a perfect solution to an assignment there. I can't name another major brand where so much quote "local" advertising comes back to run in the US, the most quote "developed" market in the world.

"Thinking Local" and "Acting Global" has put HUGGIES on A.C. Nielsen's list of only 43 truly global, billion-dollar brands.


MOTOROLA

Motorola is an example of creating different relationships with different audiences. Motorola is one of the world's truly great technology companies. But Wall Street (and many customers) weren't sure what business Motorola was in - just when technology companies, even ones with no products, were taking off. Meanwhile, consumers saw Motorola as a bunch of dull, old, "phone company" engineers - just when the kind of small, smart devices that Motorola makes best were becoming cool: must-have accessories for a new kind of lifestyle.

You've already written the strategy in your heads: What we needed to do was 1) Stake out the high ground as a technology leader, with a vision of where the world is going and what it all means. (IBM all over again!) And 2) Present Motorola as a nimble outfit with human scale, tons of street-smarts, and a lot of really cool stuff you want.

Talk about a paradox! We needed to deliver Technology with a capital T and vision with a capital V. And simultaneously make Motorola a lower-case company that made stuff people just wanted to own.

Ads communicated the company's vision for technology - a world made better by putting Intelligence Everywhere.

But it was the next campaign that helped make Motorola part of a new mobile culture around the world. And the key turned out to be (Surprise!) the individual consumer who uses the brand in his/ her own way to make just one life better, simpler and more fun.

Some of our young creative people were already calling it MOTO. It was quick. It was cool. MOTO felt smart. It had the "insider" feel we wanted consumers to associate with our smart devices. "MOTO" is an example of the bits and scraps of which great brands are made. The trick is to recognize them. And use them.

MOTO is a street-level shorthand that makes the big Motorola of "Intelligence Everywhere" fit in a consumer's pocket and makes it cool. It's a unique language consumers can own. And 100% branded to our client. It sure doesn't hurt that "moto" suggests "motion" in so many languages. The work you're seeing, by the way, is running in 13 countries.

Here's a behind-the-scenes story. In times of change, people question everything, even the company logo. And Motorola was all set to leave behind their famous "batwing" trademark. Instead, designers from our Brand Integration Group changed everything else - from consumer packaging to the halls of the corporate headquarters - to give the logo a fresh new context to live in. Suddenly, it wasn't "old" any more, it was timeless! And cool.

BP

Mergers are always tough, because people's previous impressions of the companies involved have to be undone and a new set of expectations created in their place. The old slate is only partly erased and the new slate is never entirely clean.

Four companies have come together to form the new BP. They were 100,000 employees in five different lines of businesses and they all had the post-merger "what should I be thinking about now?" angst you'd expect. (And maybe lived yourself.) Putting together whatever the "New Company" was going to be internally was Job One for BP.

Outside, much of the public felt that even one oil company was part of the problem. Multiplying that times four was not going to be good news. They would have been reassured if they'd met the Chief of the new BP. Lord John Brown had a vision for a different kind of company. But he was wise enough to know that the starting point had to be at the grass roots: his employees and his consumers.

The amazing thing was that almost everybody - inside and outside the company - in a million different ways, was hoping for the same thing. Inside, people wanted a BP that was about more than its separate internal silos. They wanted to be part of something bigger; that mattered more. Meanwhile, consumers wanted somebody - anybody - to hear them and to rise above being an "Oil Company". One of our consumer insights was that there was a high ground position just waiting to be occupied: a company that gets it.

I wouldn't be here talking about BP if we didn't have a great case-history reel. But instead of showing you the end result, I'd like to take you inside the process. Before we were geniuses... when we were just trying to learn what the BP and Amoco people around the world were about: what they'd done and what they thought needed doing. And what we learned was amazing. People at BP cleaned up abandoned waste sites that others left behind... They created low-sulfur gasoline four years ahead of federal EPA requirements... They've gone to Greenpeace conferences! We started writing all this down. And when we ran out of paper, we got bigger paper. We really used one long scroll because it was going to be one company.

The "bits and straws" you're seeing right now became the raw material for a whole 360-Degree communications plan that's helping the BP brand gain relevance far beyond its roots as "British Petroleum". Now the company stands for 100,000 people who think and act Beyond Petroleum. And that's our theme line: "Beyond Petroleum."

Internal communications were a huge part of the effort. The words of oil company critics hung as banners in BP's halls, challenging employees to dare and do more. And individual business units started making their own scrolls, to show off how they had responded. The Process is the Result at BP. It's not "Advertising" - it's real change. And it's still going on.

But I'm an old ad guy, so I've got to show you at least one ad. BP has a galvanizing vision and they've made a lot of progress. How should they talk about it? You don't have to be a member of Greenpeace to know they "aren't there yet" and that claiming too much could destroy the trust that our brand is asking for. So we build a moment of truth right into the advertising.

CONCLUSION

The Pond's Institute ... E-Business ... Happy Babies ... Hello, MOTO ... Beyond Petroleum. What do they have in common?

They're all built out of insights that came from consumers and business customers, all over the world. And, with 360-Degree branding, they're all expressed in a world of ways to give consumers more material to make our brands their own.

Finally, they're all Big Ideas. Big enough to be Local... and Global at the same time. It's not always easy to recognize an idea like that the first time you see it. Only consumers can tell you for sure. But in the meantime, here's a tip... from a very good source.

"Big Ideas are usually simple ideas." - David Ogilvy

I wish you all the luck in the world in finding those big, simple brand ideas that connect global brands with local consumers.

 

 

Ogilvy & Mather

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