Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Power of Visual Communication

"The German philosopher Hegel defined art as "the sensuous presentation of ideas". It is, he indicated, in the business of conveying concepts, just like ordinary language, except that it engages us through both our senses and our reason and is uniquely effective for its dual modes of address." — Alan de Botton

What lies at the heart of all successful public communication that is stronger than a logo, a color or an image? An idea, story, a reason to engage. It is these ideas what we should demand as consumers. And it is these ideas that visual communicators bring as the ultimate value to our clients. After all, engaging and relevant brand relationships are in one way or another intellectually and emotionally satisfying.

It is because an idea was planted that "think different" set in motion the company we now hold as one archetype of relevant brand and consumer communication. It is because of an idea that "yes we can" became the rally cry that brought a nation together. It is because of ideas that good and bad things happen, because people are willing to live or die for them.

Now, lets backtrack to what triggered this writing: the economic power of art when married with the communication of an idea and the absence that I see of this type of brand attitude in the field of FMCGs. It is through meaningful engagements with a consumer that brands grow and flourish, so why is that in this world of quarterly reports the larger goal is overseen? I encourage every one of us to follow the leadership of these lighthouse brands and learn from them. Ideas do sell. So let's get back in the business of marketing and visualizing them. Business strategy leaders such as Michael Porter are already questioning the relevance of short term business thinking and advocating putting the consumer's interest, or embracing ideas first. From a business point of view this makes total sense. From a visual communication sense this can be extremely powerful. From a brand growth point of view - if not for it's survival - this could be essential.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Is Cheap the New Premium?

Oxymoronically, premium is becoming value as price wars and the ever democratization of premium continues to expand and infiltrate every aspect of our lives.

Product quality aside, what are our premium brands delivering to the consumer beyond a name and quality perception? In these times in which brand value is being reconsidered and redefined this might not be enough. From cereals to cheese, the reality is that people are looking for a better deal or a different kind of value.

Some of our options:
• We play the how-low-can-you-go game and self cannibalize. Yes, many are making money this way, i.e. beer manufacturers like Kirin, Sapporo, Asahi and their race to launch lower alcohol, lower carb, and lower priced "beers" has proven successful and profitable, until someone else comes with an even cheaper option. This is where Google steps in: Free Beer, with an add or two.
• Listen and look around to our world, and innovate. Hybrid, Organic, Social, Mobile, are all examples of how value has been brought to an audience hungry for something different. Is not far fetched anymore, it is here and it is more profitable every day.

Seventh Generation's new detergent bottle is made of recycled cardboard and newspaper...I love when brands put their money where their mouth is.