Building a total brand experience for Nuvem 9

Nuvem 9 are a new type of financial and accounting consultancy service that specialises in working with companies and entrepreneurs with ambitions to take the profitability in their business to the next level.

‘We are not advisors with an MBA who have never actually worked in a business,’ says partner Niall McGinnity.

We developed a real ‘cloud 9’ experience for Nuvem 9 – a total brand experience that creates a unique tone of voice for their market.

The first thing we did was to sit down with the partners and fully understand their business and even more importantly help them understand what makes their business different from other brands and their competitors.

Only then did we start redesigning the logo to make the ‘nuvem’ or cloud part of their brand more legible and approachable, in keeping with their brand positioning. We developed a real ‘cloud 9’ experience for Nuvem 9 – a total brand experience that creates a unique tone of voice for their market.


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Think social – further thoughts on the Apple brand

In the first of these think pieces on the effectiveness of the Apple brand, I tried to paint a bigger picture of a technology-driven brand that is authentic because it delivers on what it promises, and its products are seen as highly effective tools for business and for managing your life.

It’s interesting to look at the sensory elements of the Apple brand as, certainly from the second coming of Steve Jobs in the late 90’s, Apple’s focus was more to Think Personal as well to Think Different.

The feeling that infused the brand from this period was the primary importance of not just the brand and technology experience, but in making that experience as personal as possible.

This can be seen in the ability to customize and personalize desktops in the Apple OS and the ability to choose the colour of the new iMacs, although my own first home machine was the ubiquitous bondi blue iMac. But this personalization of technology, nothing new itself when you think of the Sony Walkman, really started to work with the launch of the iPod – a personal music player you could personalize in almost every aspect.

This is the time of course when Apple became not just a major force in the music and entertainment industry, but one of the key players in the personal consumer market, often leading the way in a cluttered market with cutting edge products and services.

The real brand movement which we are experiencing today as the new iPhone 5 is launched, is that this personal element of the brand could lead the way for Apple to produce technology that would help create the social media landscape and add a social dimension to what is really an impersonal, new-age corporate brand.

I remember fighting for a long time fighting against buying an iPhone, as I used Apple computers all day at work, at that time only had a ten minute commute in Central London which is almost unheard of for most Londoners, and had a 17-inch work PowerBook and an Apple PowerBook at home. What could I possibly do with iPhone?

Yet here we see that social element of the Apple brand resurfacing again as it soon became clear that the iPhone was not just another Apple product, but one that represented much more, to the user and to the Apple brand.

It was through the iPhone and later the iPad that Apple was to help drive what we can call a Think Social brand and technology experience.

The Apple iPhone offered connectivity, but not just the connectivity that a phone, or even a Blackberry gives you, but the multi-touch connectivity of having access to almost all your technology and information, all the time and almost anywhere. It lets you stay in touch and touch others via technology in a way that had never been seen before.

You could say that Apple products, and by extension the Apple brand, helped create the social media age by providing the essential mobile devices which became the platform and the means for its emergence.

Without an iPhone and iTunes there would have been no podcasts and the big social media players like Twitter and Facebook would have had much less penetration as much of their new users are driven to their platforms through using smart phone technology. Mobile internet has created the personal stream of social media that need no longer be interrupted.

And here we have another part of the Think Social aspect of the Apple brand. Back in the late 80’s the cost of Apple computers was part of the brand experience. They weren’t really a personal computer, they were the only available computer for creatives and design professionals and as such users were an affluent, if sometimes counterculture, élite.

It’s interesting to note that Apple products are cheaper now than they have ever been in my lifetime and it’s the affordability of products such as the iPhone and the iPad that have helped make Apple a more successful, more profitable, and on certain levels, more social brand.

In spite of this Apple remains a distant, almost silent monolith that, especially in the post-Jobs era, has no unique defining voice. It is, more than most perhaps, a brand that speaks though its products and its technology, which could perhaps account for its seemingly unstoppable worldwide reach.

So Apple is a global brand that’s not itself particularly social yet provides the technology and the tools to allow a large part of the human race to become more social and connect meaningfully with others. That’s quite an achievement for a brand born in a garage, don’t you think?

What about you and your own business? How authentic is your business and your brand positioning? Is it time to Think Different and to Think Social?

A new approach to new products

There’s nothing a creative designer loves more than to be asked to launch a new product. There’s never really a blank sheet of paper in design, of course, as the product itself normally predates any brief the designer gets. Yet it has been one of the pleasures in my design career to have worked with Dale Sklar, owner of Wine and Spirit International, who has often spoken to me about new products in his portfolio of niche brands even before he’s started to produce them.

The design and marketing campaigns for a new product must also flow from the brand positioning and tone-of-voice that will resonate with the end user, or consumer. The colours, the visual language you create for the new product, grow out of the benefits and unique character of the product itself, its form and function and, in the case of lifestyle drinks products, its taste and flavour.

But then of course you don’t design simply to please yourself, or even to please your client or the brand manager. Your real master is the end user and the customer who will try, test and then hopefully buy the product. Design after all has a function. If a design is beautiful but doesn’t sell then, ultimately, it’s an unsuccessful design.

Colour, typography, photography, style all play a part in the launch of a new product, and then there are the various media channels that you choose to deliver the visual styling, the design that you’ve created. And thankfully I’ve usually been closely involved in choosing and developing the means of delivery for several new brands.

For many Wine and Spirit International products we used trade advertising and promotions, film tie-in and co-branded campaigns, direct mail, viral email campaigns, sponsorship of media events such as the Popbitch summer party, concert and event sponsorship and many more approaches even further outside the more traditional routes to market. These were chosen for their extended reach, and for their value to the individual products and decided by their fit with the positioning of the brand.

However, today it’s an even more exciting time for launching and evolving products into new markets of all kinds. Social and digital media and the web give the creative designer and the brand professional another palette to work with. The opportunity is there to add more depth, meaning and dimension to a brand – to more accurately target users and consumers, on and off-line.

This means new challenges too, but like many designers I see that as another chance to show my creative and design skills and approach new projects with social media delivery at the forefront of my thoughts. And to think the Web 2.0 and social media age is only just beginning. These are exciting times.




A social business is a more profitable business

So a friend of mine (on Twitter of course) posted this very timely and interesting link from Econsultancy:

UK retail sales directly through social media are forecast to grow to £290m by 2014 from £210m. The study, commissioned by eBay, also predicts that £3bn of retail sales will be influenced by social media by 2014. You can read the story here.

It’s the kind of story that makes you think, isn’t it? It’s interesting too that the study was commissioned by eBay, which although a worldwide online brand that everyone has heard of, yet eBay itself is not a brand that’s well known for its own social media presence, as this further piece from Econsultancy on brands making use, or otherwise, of Instagram makes clear. You can read that story too here.

The figures mentioned on the growing value of social media influenced sales, may be out of your league, and mine too come to think of it, but they do tell us quite a lot about the power of social media and just how powerful a tool it is set to become in sales and sales growth.

It’s clear too that the potential is clearly there for SMEs and smaller organizations to get on board with social media marketing, to start planning to become a more social business part of your overall business and growth strategy.

A social business is a profitable business. A business that is social to the core makes best use of limited resources and turns listening into actions, marketing into sales. Social businesses have the potential to grow because, for relatively small investment of time and capital, they are able to talk to, listen to and better understand their customers and use that socially-gained knowledge to best effect.

Start making your business social to the core and you can use the power of design and social media to get to where your business needs to be, while remaining flexible and have the ability to think and move fast in your maket.

‘Nearly half (46%) of social media users are already using social platforms while thinking about making a purchase, and 40% of users are actively deciding what to buy based on what they have seen on social media platforms, including reviews and recommendations, and this is only set to grow.’

Maybe it’s time to find out what people are saying about your brand, your business and your competitors on social media. Better still, maybe it’s time to find out what they are not saying and start saying it for yourself. With a little bit of help from us, of course.

China still wide open for business

Take it from me, there may be a bit of a blip in the Chinese economy – as there is in most economies around the world at the moment – but there’s still a vibrancy and a huge rush of creative business ideas in China, particularly in Shanghai and other urban growth areas.

You really need to go to China – to step off a plane at Shanghai’s Pudong airport and travel towards the centre of the city – to get a feel for what’s still happening and what’s possible in China. It’s a feeling you don’t experience in London or Paris, although the latter city has more sedate cultured, less business-driven charms.

Exciting things are still happening in China and happening fast. Business growth may be slowing but it’s slowing from a previous breakneck speed that was vertiginous and ultimately dangerous in the long run.

Now that the business climate is calmer, steadier if you will, it could prove be the best time for a long-term business investment, or to make long-lasting business connections that will take you business to the next level – and way beyond.

Crucially developments and trends in China and South East Asia are reshaping culture and trends in the West. See this from the World Future Trends Summit 2012:

‘Asian values and culture are rapidly shaping the ways of the west. Connectivity, new information media, mobility, shopping behavior and culinary habits are just a few of the trends.’

I don’t recommend even thinking about doing business in China without doing lots of research, talking to experts who are in the know and have excellent connections, and more importantly perhaps, going there in person to understand the opportunities and the challenges that you face. And when you do go you’ll also discover one of the world’s most vibrant and inspiring cultures and a people who are warm, welcoming and interested in what you have to say, as long as you have the ability to communicate with them.

Catherine Yu Gu is from Shanghai and knows the financial and consumer sectors extremely well and has many close contacts across a range of sectors. Eugene Burns has visited China several times, and worked with companies there on brand development and marketing projects and knows how much help a westerner needs to be successful and thrive in such a bustling, yet potentially extremely rewarding, environment.

It’s also good that we understand not just design and communication but Chinese design and communication too. And then of course there are the Chinese social media platforms – the equivalent of Twitter and Facebook – to investigate and explore.

So talk to us before you make any decisions and, if you’re really interested in doing business in China, get in touch soon.

It’s social media so why not make it personal?

If you’re turning your business into a social media business, or simply revamping your Twitter or other social media presence, there are plenty of tools to help you generate content.

Your ‘social media listening’ and ‘landscape analysis’ can be helped by using Google Reader, Topsy, Social Mention or lots of other tools and there are apps of all kinds to help you generate and post content from your searches.

I can’t help thinking though that if every other business in your sector is using a similar approach then lots of similar content gets generated, and even some social media experts seem to share a lot of similar types of content in their posts and have familiar sounding blogs.

It’s social media after all so why not make it a personal media too?

I recently built a sports related blog and Twitter account with many thousands of followers in a relatively short space of time by using some simple Google, NewsNow and Twitter based searches to find interesting content and media that really seemed different from other sites with a similar focus.

I found links and ideas that excited me and was quickly able to generate some social and often passionate interaction around the range of subjects covered. Things that interested me in the subject I presented in a personal way and shared them with my followers. I accentuated the human element while spending no more time as analysing lots of content searches would have done.

You could say I developed a tone of voice for my tweets and my blogs posts. A recognisable voice that stood out from the crowd.

Isn’t that what all good social businesses and successful brands aim for – a unique and recognisable tone of voice that sets your business apart from other brands and from your competition?

Of course if you get too close to your own business and your own brand you can sometimes find it hard to find the right tone. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone else before you discover what you really need to say and how really need to say it.

Making social media personal is one of the things Brandlogik excels at. We have our own unique tone of voice that’s part of our brand.

What’s yours?

Welcome to our social world

Brand engagement at every level is key for growing your business, helping to make your product or service meaningful to your users and your clients, to become part of the fabric of their business and their lives.

Brandlogik can help you achieve better brand engagement though creative thinking and great creative ideas. We’re highly experienced and creative people with a wide range of design expertise combined with a down-to-earth approach. We deliver brilliant thinking and offer value for money with a customized delivery that fits with your business and how you like to work.

We’re intuitive with a wide range of technical abilities across many sectors and channels. Our expertise is in print, advertising, social media, web and digital development and integrated marketing of all kinds, with the sole aim of improving the value and engagement of your business and your brand.

Every great brand tells a great story.

Let's talk about your story.