Socially networked show

BRAND :Cheetos
DATE: Feb 2009 - May 2009

Cheetos wanted to target 18-35 year olds just out of college or getting into the real world and associate itself with engaging content that would entertain rather than interrupt. This was part of a wider Cheetos campaign to appeal to adult consumers.
The snack brand teamed up with popular actor Ashton Kutcher to fund a web-series centering around a Hollywood production company, with Kutcher as the boss. It was the first sponsored series to be distributed through a Facebook application, called FunSpace, created by Slide, the largest publisher of entertainment applications.

The idea was that Cheetos could engage with young people in this way in an environment where they were hanging out anyway, with the hope that it created conversations around content.
The series, KatalystHQ, is a “fly-on-the-wall reality” parody about working in Kutcher’s production office and follows the experiences of Katalyst’s staff as they navigate the excitement and perils of corporate life set against a backdrop of the television and film industry. Cheetos are worked into the story lines and given custom-made pre-roll ads. It is available at
The deal echoes that of Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane’s microseries deal with Google.

Become a Doritos guru

Doritos has a long track record of user generated ads, and its latest campaign in Canada is no different. Doritos has launched a new flavour with a secret recipe and is inviting people to think of a name to match it in the Doritos Guru Contest.Consumers can find the new flavour in stores in a plain white packet.
Consumers are invited to try the new recipe, think of an appropriate name and then create and upload a 30-second commercial inspired by the flavour.

Visitors to a microsite vote for their favourite and the winner receives $25,000 in cash and one percent of the flavour’s Canadian net sales.

Doritos Canada 2009

How We Work: Our Process and Pricing Guide for Web Design

Arnold Yoon / October 15th, 2008 /
In this day and age, being fiscally aware and responsible are really important things - I want to know where my money is going, and in what fashion. Service industries such as ours have always been plagued with a lack of clarity in pricing.

Full disclosure, no secrets!
When shopping for products, whether it’s a couch, food or a computer, both cost and quality play important roles in making a decision. The prices are clearly laid out, even for big ticket items such as homes and cars, so that we can make an informed decision. This being said, why is it that professional service industries don’t have this sort of transparency as a norm? Shouldn’t I be able to see the qualifications and cost commitment at-a-glance to determine if I can afford a particular lawyer, general contractor, or web shop? The answer to these questions should be, YES!
That has always been committed to integrity and true transparency with all of our clients, both prospective and active. We calculate and provide clear, value-driven pricing on everything that we do. No smoke-n-mirrors, no secrets and definitely no BS! Granted, we’re not the low-price leader in web design firms, but do you really want the cheapest open-heart surgeon out there? You want the best for your dollar. We price our services on a value-based model: one which delivers comprehensive intellectual ROI immediately and throughout the business relationship.
Intellectual ROI? What on earth is that?! It means that you, as the client, receive tangible deliverables that produce valuable results throughout our whole relationship, not just pretty designs after 4 weeks. The road to those deliverables requires a lot of research, strategy and planning before execution (this is the Base Process). This is where we, the “metro web nerds,” combine our expertise with your passion and build a plan to execute your vision. After all, it’s impossible to cook a great meal without a solid kitchen, fresh ingredients and some culinary knowledge.

In our initial meeting, we learn about your project and understand brand goals and vision. Also share expertise in the web 2.0 space as it applies to brand project. Once have a collective understanding of what Brand goals are, we’ll build an estimate for the total cost of the project. While we work on an hourly basis, we want you to have an accurate representation of what the project will cost based on our discussion. There is always the chance of the project scope increasing as we strategize new ideas and functionalities, but you’ll always be a position to approve or deny the enhancements. We charge a rate of $175-$225/hour depending on the complexity of each task for strategy, design, front end development and integration services.
Here is an outline of how a typical engagement with dt works:

  1. Strategic Alignment (primary discovery and brainstorming session)
  2. Proposal and Contract
  3. Kickoff Meeting (Both teams design and fill in the minute details on the project roadmap)
  4. Flows & Wireframes (the structure and user interface of the site / web app - think of this as a blueprint for the key user interfaces to be built)
  5. Living Designs (the look and feel of the interface - we add color, light, graphics and texture to the wireframes)
  6. CSS/.XHTML Build (the Living Designs come to life with web standards strict code)
  7. integration/Interaction Design (design templates are integrated into the website and made functional - additional programming takes place, such as AJAX and other front end effects)
Our relationship with you is like cooking with a partner - we work together to create something unique and super tasty. We will challenge your thinking and evolve your concept like a beautifully-crafted meal. This being said, it’s time to break the traditional service-agency model and “put our menu in the window.”

Here are the details about our process, the time it takes to achieve them and what each of the parts cost:
Base Process: $6,300

  • Meet and Kickoff
  • Strategy, Research, Client Self Realization (Creative Brief)
  • Project Management and Meetings
Page Design Process: Cost Depends on the Project and the Numbers/Types of Pages

We divide our projects into 3 key types of pages, based on their classification and complexity. For each type of page, there are 3 “ingredients” required to create the finished product:

  • Flowcharts and Wireframes
  • Living Designs
  • .CSS/HTML Build
Per-Page Costs (includes the 3 ingredients above for each page)

  • Home Page: $4,200
  • Primary Design Page: $2,450/page
  • Secondary Design Page: $1,225/page

A Sample ProjectLet’s say that we’re embarking on a project to build a site for a neat web application that will give users sample recipes based on what they have in their fridge or pantry. The project might be priced out like this:

  • Base Process ($6,300)
  • Home Page Design ($4,200)
  • Primary Page Designs/Build ($7,350)
Enter ingredients
Recipe results
Featured recipes
Cooking tips
  • Secondary Page Designs/Build ($3,675)
Search recipes
About Us
Contact us

TOTAL: $21,525 + Integration Costs (based hourly on time and materials)

Time and Materials: $175/hrdigital-telepathy offers strategic user experience design without any filler. We never “pad” hours in our estimates - you get the straight story with no BS! We use the calculations above to figure out how many hours it will take to complete your project. This being said, there are often aspects of your project which will be billed additionally as Time and Materials. Some examples of these a-la carte items are:

  • Additional strategic time
  • Logo/Branding
  • Additional design time
  • Integration into your backend or a CMS, and front-end programming (these are nearly impossible to quote initially, as the complexity is not usually determined until the flowcharts and wireframes have been completed.)
  • Additional features and functionality
  • Out of scope revisions
  • Additional project management time
What do You Get?In addition to piece of mind resulting from a solid strategic foundation, you’ll walk away with a beautifully engineered and artistically crafted front end (Page Designs + .CSS/HTML Templates) for your back-end application or content management system. We’ll integrate the designs into your system if you like, or you can have your programmers take care of that

Skittles :::Wikis its homepage

BRAND: Skittles
DATE: Feb 2009 - Dec 2008

These days it is not unusual for a brand to give consumers some control over their website or marketing, be it Doritos inviting consumers to name a new flavour, or getting consumers to come up with a TV spot idea. But Skittles has gone one step further by completely relinquishing control of its own website. 
In a bold move, skittles.com features content drawn from all over the internet, with social media touchpoints including content from YouTube and Wikipedia, what people are saying about Skittles on Twitter as well as Flickr and Facebook.

Upon arrival to the site, visitors are greeted with the message: “Don't sweat it, this is still Skittles.com. It just has a new twist. Use this as your guide to find anything and everything Skittles that's online. Have fun".

The homepage is made up of Twitter comments including the word “Skittles”. Anyone who “tweets” about Skittles automatically gets their comments to appear on the Skittles homepage. The site has effectively been “Wikied”, providing a window onto all content created about Skittles within social media.
Visitors to the Skittles.com are accompanied by a small branded toolbar which allows for navigation between the various social media outlets.
Skittles has been criticized of copying Boston ad agency Modernista!, which pulled a similar move last year with its own website, although it is a first for a consumer brand.



Mini-series drives airlines alliance

BRAND: Star Alliance
BRAND OWNER: Star Alliance
CATEGORY: Travel/Airlines
REGION: Multi-local
DATE:Oct 2008

Star Alliance, the international airline network aimed at frequent international travellers, wanted to increase awareness among its target audience and so created a series of short documentaries with businessmen in mind to drive traffic to their website.
The series, called “A Meeting of Minds”, produced with CNBC International, saw entrepreneurs interviewing global business leaders on the art of improving business, especially in emerging markets, and breaking into international markets.
The films were uploaded to staralliance.com and were available in nine different languages.
To complement the campaign, Star Alliance also developed an international business etiquette guide to acknowledge the importance of different cultures when doing business around the world, produced in association with international magazine, Monocle.
As well as the mini-series Star Alliance placed a number of advertisements on targeted news, business ad travel websites directing visitors to a video landing page at
www.staralliance.com, and ads ran in Star Alliance’s 21 member carriers’ in-flight magazines, on entertainment channels and in posters at London’s Heathrow and Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airports.

The horror of milkshake

Milkshake brand Frijj looks to highlight its “unique thickness” via a film contest that plays on the classic horror movies.A series of virals show Four Ridges, a fictional 1950s town, being terrorized by a little girl called Martha.

These drive consumers to a website where they are encouraged to upload their own scary movies featuring Frijj. The brand has also extended the horror metric to cinema with a ticket giveaway that offers purchasers the chance to watch classic horror movies as part of a film festival.

Puma dials up the football

CATEGORY:Accessories/ Clothing/ Footwear
DATE:May 2008 - Jun 2008
MEDIA AGENCY:ZenithOptimedia

The European Championships in Austria and Switzerland set a particular challenge for Puma. Budgets were significantly down on the World Cup of 2006 while rivals such as Nike and Adidas were expected to keep their spend high.The brand knew that watching big football games was about community – the reason why fans watch matches in groups be it at home, bars, cafes and pubs. The challenge for Puma would be to enhance this sense of togetherness.Together Everywhere was all about achieving this. Consumers would be able to sign up to a mobile message that highlighted their patriotism, put them in touch with Puma stars and also enabled them to talk to their own community.Consumers who signed via to the mobile WAP portal would be able to hear a relevant celebration football chant every time their team scored. When the goal hits the back of the net, the ringtone would be heard and consumers would hear a pre-recorded message from a Puma player before being put into a conference call with the people they had registered on the WAP portal. After the call fans were encouraged to upload images of their celebrations to to pumafootball.com.The aim was to associated Puma with that moment of joy and bring the good news to fans who were unable to watch the match at a time when no other brand would be part of their lives.
The activity was promoted via SMS, online ads and via pumafootball.com as well as via press and outdoor.

Lamb with your tennis?

Meat and Livestock Australia became part of the Australian tennis open
It's often said that the best TV ads are as good as the programmes that separate them. Meat and Livestock Australia's ads are so good that viewers now actively look forward to its lamb promotion each January.

In 2008 it took advantage of this fact and turned the tables on broadcasters. Instead of booking a standard schedule it asked broadcasters what they would do to win access to its content. The result was unprecedented integration

Meat and Livestock Australia Australia 2008


Nokia arrived in China with a new gadget, the country’s first GPS enabled mobile. Its mission was to convince upscale consumers that once they had GPS they would never go back.The solution was to demonstrate the navigational benefits of GPS by creating a contest to identify those citizens with the best and worst sense of direction

Nokia N6110 China 2007

The city furniture gets made to measure outfits in Zurich


A bespoke tailoring specialist has dressed up Zurich and in particular the streets near high paying financial services firms to boost demand for its products. A key element of the campaign has been the fact that Artesanos offers a made to fit service for consumers with non-standard body shapes.

Among the items of street furniture getting a makeover were a tree and a lamp post while pricing tags on these unusual made-to-measure items provided a discount for new customers.

Artesanos Camiseros Switzerland 2007

How to cope with aging brands

Joseph Gelman

The story of brands getting old is a story of relevance. Individual brands, or even whole categories, that were once important for a particular consumer segment, become irrelevant as society evolves and tastes change.
In the past, one of the most common situations in which “brands aged badly” revolved around strong associations with national pride. Many brands, such as US automakers Ford and GM, once successfully owned this space. Over time, however, the kind of brand attributes that they were associated with lost their importance as purchase drivers. This was due to a diverse set of realities. More relevant attributes emerged such as the rise of the Japanese manufacturer Toyota’s reputation for quality in the US, the lack of relevance in national pride to new generations of consumers and even the emergence of a “global” mindset in which consumers were willing to try new things from other markets. The rise of new generations of consumers with new ideas and evolving needs and wants, meant that although these “legacy - national pride associated” brands retained their distinguishing characteristics from their competitors, their attributes were no longer relevant. This situation has been faced by a lot of European brands in categories such as retail, air travel, telecommunications and many others in which strong brands differentiated themselves by emphasizing their origin and roots: brands like France Telecom, British Airways or Marks & Spencer. A current example of this situation is observed at Waitrose, the upscale UK grocery retailer. With the credit crunch, mainstream consumer segments are moving away from premium price products as they recognize that acceptable quality exists elsewhere. The ethical and “British grown” part of the equity of Waitrose is not relevant enough to consumers, who are switching to cheaper and even to “foreign” brands such as the European hard discount retailers, Aldi and Lidl, that are performing quite strongly in the UK market. Brands such as Waitrose now face a tough question: Should I completely lose my current brand equity association so I can become relevant to new consumers? The answer to this question is usually “no”. Brands need to evolve their legacy to make sure the things that differentiate them from their competitors are complemented by more relevant purchase drivers. They need to upgrade the different touch points of the business, create new product brands, eliminate others and launch new product lines.
Recent corporate history is littered with examples of brands needing to adjust their brand image to cope with new scenarios and a new generation of consumers. When telecommunications companies evolved from public-sector businesses to multi-service providers, first expanding into mobile telephony, they created new brands. These were not completely independent from the “traditional fixed line operator” branding but incorporated new attributes that were relevant to this new line of business. Again, the beneficial aspects of the legacy of the ‘aging’ brand which provided scale, reliability and trust were complemented by the personality of the “new mobile brand”. This meant that old fixed telephony brands were able to compete with strong “young” attacker brands. One of the most successful examples of this was the launch and consolidation of Telefónica’s Movistar brand in Spain and Latin America. The Telefónica brand had a strong trust in its core Spain and Latin American markets, and it leveraged on its equity as the “big, traditional and Spanish” national incumbent. The “Spanish” side of this equation lost relevance in Spain and even became negative in Latin America, where the company wanted to move away from a perception of “here comes the Spanish colonialism again”.
Also, the emergence of mobile communications required it to have a more emotional relationship with consumers. In this context, Telefónica evolved its legacy brand to dial up the aspects of its equity that were relevant to residential and corporate consumers, such as quality, innovation, and any other magnitude related attributes that would build trust.

An ad for Telefónica's Movistar brand, featuring footballer Lionel Messi, of Barcelona and Argentina

Also, its “Spanish roots” were shifted into emphasizing its corporate “spirit of progress” essence, which highlighted the positive impact that the company had in developing the economy in emerging markets. In parallel, it developed the “younger” Movistar brand. This brand would be supported by the equity of Telefónica but would allow communication with consumers in a language that was more relevant in the mobile business.
But the problem of aging brands is not limited to those with a patriotic tradition, as can be seen from the example of Burger King. Burger King was an “old” brand that consistently underperformed its category. The essence of its message was “We make better burgers, have them your way”, and this became irrelevant to its consumer base worldwide, who felt much closer to the more emotional approach to the fast food consumption experience that McDonalds was communicating. It took Burger King time, and multiple changes to its ownership structure, advertising campaigns, management teams and go-to market strategies before it finally understood that its brand had become irrelevant to 18-35 years old males. After it recognised this, and took appropriate action, the fast food giant never looked back. It reshaped its brand, tapping into its roots and embracing innovation across the four Ps - Product, Price, Promotion and Place.

Burger King’s brand evolved its “better quality burger” approach into a rule-breaking, politically incorrect positioning in which it almost tells the consumer, “Yes, we know it is fast food, we know it is red meat, but this is what you like, you like our big and greasy burgers, and nobody needs to tell you what is and isn’t good for you.” Coupled with bold advertising and innovative social media campaigns, this put Burger King back on the map with more than 13 straight quarters of sales growth.


Burger King's "I Am Man" spot

In the UK, we have recently observed how complete “product lines” at aging brands have died and then reinvented themselves. This situation is quite different from the previous scenarios outlined above because it assumes that the equity that existed needs to be completely wiped out before a brand is able to become relevant to a different segment of consumers. This is probably the reasoning behind the radical branding shift visible at the retail chain from Virgin Megastores to Zavvi. Management of the CD-retailer-turned-video-game-shop thought that its strong legacy brand, Virgin, was not appropriate for the new directions they wanted for the business. This is quite interesting as it implies that the irreverent/Richard Branson part of the equity of Virgin, that has worked so well in expanding the brand into new territories, was no longer relevant for the new consumer segment that the chain wanted to target. In this context, they completely wiped out all the brand equity and develop a new brand and a new mark. Not all cases are necessary so dramatic. Sometimes brands just need innovation-driven tactical solutions to rejuvenate themselves and become relevant. For example, the alcohol industry noticed that consumers loved to drink from martini glasses, so you had Sex and the City’s cosmopolitan, bringing vodka and triple sec back on to the scene; or how about putting some Baileys on your coffee? From these examples, we can see the different directions that companies with aging brands can take. Telefónica kept its stronger functional attributes and developed a new brand that benefits from it but that can talk to consumers in a more relevant language; Burger King made its brand edgier around its core quality attributes and invested across the four Ps to reshape its image; and Zavvi became a completely different brand with little leverage on its legacy brand (Virgin). To make these decisions, all these companies needed to understand the purchase drivers of their consumers and which parts of their legacy brands, if any, were still relevant and differentiated them from rivals. Brands aging (badly) is a reality in multiple industries. Once the company acknowledges the need for change, which is often difficult given their legacy and strong brand equity, the most important decision is to decide which part of the old equity (if any) can evolve, or whether a completely new brand is need. With the right decisions on these points, most brands can live long and healthy lives.

Precious brands: loyalty unlimited

Andrew Doyle
There's a new hero for marketers to worship. His name is Peter Thomas and he's an insurance worker from Brighton in England. Or rather he was called Peter Thomas. Today his legal name is Honey Monster and he is perhaps the most extreme case around of brand love. He just adores Sugar Puffs and their Honey Monster character.
If only consumers of all our brands loved them so much that they decided to do what Peter (sorry, Honey) has done! Sadly most brands don't inspire this kind of fanaticism, but there are some that do get close to us. We become emotionally attached to them. They become loved objects, irrespective of what they do or what they cost. In fact being loved, being 'precious', is the ultimate achievement for any brand.
For example, ask a designer anywhere in the world what they think of Apple and you're likely to be pinned against a wall for hours while they wax lyrical about their brand.
Or, how about getting a woman in her twenties to talk about Zara? I'm told that for her it's like going into a candy store – because there's always something new to excite and entice her. And no other clothes retailer seems to inspire like this Spanish retailer.
Then there's Tic Tac. Anyone who has recently seen the movie Juno will remember the heroine's boyfriend, who always has his orange Tic Tacs by him. That's why Juno demonstrates her love by filling his mailbox with hundreds of packets of this precious confectionery.
What is it about these brands that make so many people love them? What makes them precious? It goes beyond the product. It goes beyond packaging or advertising. It certainly goes beyond the rational.
Oh dear, it goes beyond the rational. That's a pity because the rational is the way we mostly handle our brand marketing, isn't it? For example, it's rational isn't it that if you offer a better product, people will buy it? At least that's the theory behind the wave of premium products that have appeared on the market. But this strategy doesn't do anything to make people love them. Premium simply becomes the next level of threshold values expected by shoppers from products. And as I have recently seen in research, consumers lump all the premium own-label brands from supermarkets together and see them as one thing, rather than discriminating between them.
This kind of push marketing doesn't work anymore. We are all expecting a lot more from the brands we buy. Something more than just knowing we have bought something better.
And that's where preciousness comes in. Preciousness translates into unswerving loyalty and that in turn converts into guaranteed income. But how do you get there? In my journey to find the answer, I uncovered some clues, which seem to work. But before letting you hear what I learnt, you truly must switch off your rational 'push' marketing mindset and really enter the emotional world of the consumer.
If you look at brands that are clearly precious, say Innocent, Tods or Gü, it's intriguing to see that they are all first-generation brands – that is, the people who created them are still directly involved in the business. And none of them went into business on purely rational grounds. Talk to any entrepreneur and passion oozes out of their pores. It is emotion that has driven each of them.
I remember hearing how the founder of the Campbell Soup-owned bakery Pepperidge Farm started her business. Margaret Rudkin had a sick, asthmatic son who had severe food allergies. To help pep him up, she decided to replace the highly processed food she had been feeding him with, among other things, her own all-natural home-baked loaves. And yes, I know it sounds cheesy, but the bread was wonderful and friends and neighbours did start asking her to bake for them. A huge business built on the emotions of a worried mum.
And this sort of emotion clearly infuses the products of these first-generation brands and rubs off on consumers. But how do they get this emotional content across to consumers? Certainly it's not by talking about gap analysis or positioning theory. They do it by having a story. And that seems to be the next component in building a precious brand.
I'm looking at a watch I bought this week in Zurich. It wasn't expensive. And it wasn't a Swatch. But it looks nice and gets compliments around the studio here. The great thing is that when I get asked about it, I can tell the story about its origins – how its look is based on the clocks used on Swiss railway station platforms.
The point is that this story tells something about me. I hate to admit it but it enables me to say look, I'm different, I'm discerning, I'm curious. And so the story not only brings the brand to life, it also brings me to life in the eyes of others.
I picked up on stories some years ago, and we often talk in our company about how design is the art of symbolising brand stories. But I was lost for a while trying to figure out how to take a brand's story and make it relevant for consumers. And that led me on to a brilliant discovery – a book by two Americans, Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson, called The Hero and the Outlaw (1). They helped me realise that precious brands are those that have a story personifying the product as a specific type of hero. And that brings us to the next part of making a precious brand (2).
So precious brands trigger emotion in consumers through their use of the story. But how should that story be pitched? Mark and Pearson point to motivational theory and Jung.
No, don't get worried. It's not that complicated. Apparently we're all driven at different times by four key drives: belonging, independence, stability and risk. And they are certainly present when we're buying things in the supermarket. So if your brand story fits snugly with one of these needs, you may find it becoming precious – because it moves your brand from being just an inanimate object to a support for the shopper's particular motivation.
Of course it gets a bit more complicated, because within each of these four motivation areas there are different types of stories that could be told to reflect different aspects or nuances of the motivational area – what Mark and Pearson call archetypes. The thing that really impressed me about all this though was that there seemed to be a direct correlation between precious brands and the clarity with which they fit human motivation.
Let me bring this alive with some examples. What motivates people to fall in love with Zara? How about the fact that its incredible business system allows for lightning-fast changes in merchandise. Not much to fall in love with there, surely? But think about the consumer value of this rapid turnaround of clothing. For someone who wants to dress differently, it is the place to go; there's always something new and inspiring on the racks. It helps people express their individuality and it really hits home for those motivated to explore – to be different.
I love the recent UK Carling beer campaign 'Belong'. It actually uses one of the four core human motivations as the copy line. Guys in their late teens and early twenties are strongly driven by a desire to belong to a gang or group. And Carling, their lager, really latches on to this need.
Some years ago I tested a range of ready meals across Europe for a multinational company. We presented the products in different forms of packaging and I was astonished when the results came in. All the products hit pretty well the motivation to be in control. They were convenient after all. But one pack did so much better than any of the others.
It was a ready meal steamed in a paper bag. And it drew out of Europeans an amazing nostalgia for that particular cooking style used by their mums and grandmas decades ago. It touched strongly on a desire for simpler times, a return to innocence, a search for paradise.
One of my precious brands is Post-its. Not the little ones sitting on your desk but the big flip-chart versions. They cost a fortune but I can't run a workshop without them. They stay on the wall, you don't need tape, and they look neat and tidy. They hit my need to feel safe in a workshop environment. They give me control.
We've even been able to bring this preciousness into the corporate world. When we begin working on a corporate identity, we use an A4 page with 24 famous faces on it – 12 men and 12 women. Each has been chosen to represent different facets of the four types of motivation, guided by the work of Mark and Pearson.
We give the sheets to company staff and ask them to choose one of these faces as the personification of their organisation. I can't tell you how spooky it is when the sheets are handed back in. There is always amazing consistency within an organisation. The same face appears on answer after answer, and helps us really get to grips with the underlying meaning or motivation behind the client's corporate brand.
Something that really stands out with precious brands is style. I don't mean beauty, although some have it. No, it's more that they all are confident enough to have their own look. Red Bull is a great example. Absolut is another. As are Tic Tac and Heinz Ketchup.
An ownable style actually brings together many of the points already made about precious brands. The first-generation brand owners can find an outlet for their emotional attachment to their 'baby' by using a design style that flamboyantly says to the world 'I have arrived'. Style enables the creator to tell the brand story symbolically, and style can be a consumer's signal to all around them that says 'this is what I'm like'.
It's also very enlightening to observe that many precious brands actually have style guardians. I remember at Pepperidge Farm many years ago watching its style guardian pass or reject designs. Some of the rejects looked pretty good to me, but when I made that observation, the reply was that they weren't the Pepperidge Farm way of doing things – the product shots were too perfect and lacked the excessive dribbles of chocolate their style of cake would have.
Indeed, you could sort of argue that rejecting a design because of its lack of excessive chocolate dribbles is a form of precious brand zero tolerance. If a brand management will get hot under the collar about the exterior style, then imagine how difficult they will be about the product inside or the ingredients being used.
Style doesn't just need to be about the precious brands' look. It can also be about the way in which we use the brand. When I open my Danone yoghurt, I unconsciously lick the inside of the foil lid. When I grab the Heinz Ketchup, I always give it a hefty shake. When I want to drink a Leffe, I grab the right glass and sluice it under the cold tap before pouring in my precious beer. And I always leave my Weetabix soaking in the milk for three minutes before spooning it up.
Just as with style, you could also say that a precious brand often has rituals associated with it. They reinforce the specialness of the brand. And of course the brand owner can help ensure those rituals are created. I just bought some Ecco shoes. They came with a soft bag to hold them in and a very stylish matt black shoehorn. So now, whereas my other shoes get scant attention, the black Eccos go through a special ritual when being put on or taken off. And end up being more precious.
While I am not about to claim that precious brands are the new religion, by worship I mean the set of attitudes that assign to the 'precious object' the status of being worthy of idolatry. Think Nike and teenagers and you'll get a clear indication of what this sort of worship is all about.
We did some brilliant research with 300 teenagers across Europe using our CLICK research method. This gave them cameras and asked them to answer all our questions using pictures. One key question was 'What is the most important object in your life?' The answer from most was a picture of their trainers. So maybe we should see Niketown as a church for the worship by devotees of their precious brand.
Worship is when the object practically owns the owner. It is a subtle, yet very powerful trigger. Worshipped brands are the ones consumers want to talk about. The ones they want to convert others to. The consumer becomes the brand's missionary.
We all want our brands to be precious – to be loved beyond reason, to be bought without a second thought, to be cherished as an old friend. It seems those brands that are precious combine the emotion of the founder, the expression of that emotion in a story, the grounding of its story in one of four deep-seated human motivations; they have their own unique style, are often handled in a ritualistic way and, yes, get close to being worshipped.
One final thought. I wrote this in the first person, because these are my thoughts. And it occurs to me that precious brands are always first-person brands. So if you want your brand to be precious stop calling it 'it' and start calling it 'me' or 'us'.
1.McGraw-Hill, 2001.
2. See, for example, J Howard-Spink: Who is your brand? And what is its story? Admap 443, October 2003.

7 Skills for a Post-Pandemic Marketer

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