Interbrand Global Brands 2012 Survey: That Elusive Human Touch

First, the good news: the top risers are Apple (now closely following eternal leader Coca-Cola), Samsung, Oracle and Amazon. There is a really good commentary from Jez Frampton, Chief Executive of Interbrand, where he emphasises the human and social importance of the brands in 2012:

“Today’s best brands are in touch with their own humanity and the humanity of others. They listen to consumers, employees, and investors alike and respond to the messages they receive. They want to know how people really feel about their company, they gather input and use it to drive innovation, and they realize that there is a lot to be learned from the wisdom of crowds. The challenge for brands is to respond quickly and with sincerity, or they risk compromising the relationship.”

With our clients, in various industry sectors, we noticed the same trend – connecting to people, rather than labels. Presumably, Apple rise  to the second place has much to do with still riding on Steve Jobs legacy and personality – will be interesting to see how well they would do in the next couple of years. Amazon’s success can be attributed to Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire. Samsung’s rise through the ranks is due to the best-selling Galaxy S3 phone (and its starring role in the opening ceremony of London Olympics).

For the first time in 13 years Google manage to overtake Microsoft – obviously “doing no evil” as a brand statement works for them.  There is a long-awaited newcomer – Facebook entered the index for the first time, at number 69.

This survey did not bring such good news to financial services firms. For the first time in years, UBS and Barclays are off the list. Still feeling the impact of 2008 global economic downturn, last year UBS managed to retain 94th place, and Barclays – 79th, – not in 2012 though. Credit Suisse declined to number 95 in the index. Some financial brands, however, managed to increase their brand value – American Express, Morgan Stanley, Visa (no doubt exclusive sponsorship deal with Olympics helped).

Rather shockingly, Armani group is off the list – despite almost 4 million followers on Facebook alone! Having a quick look at the brand presence on Facebook though – sadly, they suffer from a disparate offering (there are quite a few Armani-related groups), and the content is far from being engaging and exciting for the brand that size. Another contributing factor could be brand dilution by creating Armani Exchange in addition to Armani Jeans and the main Armani brand.

Years ago, Albert Einstein said: “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Quite a few brands out there now almost fully automate their social media channels, or do not pay attention to how they connect to their brand and represent brand values – and that’s when technology exceeds brand’s humanity. As we said on this blog before – let’s put “social” back into social media. And a human being in charge of your brand.

Major Players: When It’s Not Your Brand’s Day

Continuing our Major Players month – marketing and branding challenges for established brands. Today we will look at an example of brand reputation management when things have gone wrong.

The car in front is a Toyota. Or it was. Until in January 2010 Toyota had to recall 2.3 million cars due to faulty accelerator pedals.

We all know that people are more likely to complain when something goes wrong, than publicly thank you when it’s right, so the trending on Google and Twitter began. Social media channels were full of stories, comments, jokes – all of them damaging for the brand and the damage growing by the minute.

Instead of hiding their head in the sand, Toyota management took it as an opportunity to join in the conversation. Choosing Digg as their social media channel, due to it then influence on Google searches, Toyota’s social media team took their first steps in damage limitation exercise. Using Digg Dialogg, Jim Lentz, president of Toyota’s North American sales operation appeared on the video sites and answered public questions. Surprisingly, the questions were not that difficult to answer, but it strengthened the brand’s links with customers.

From then on the video of this Dialogg reached practically celebrity status – 1.2 million views per week and 3,200 online questions. Of course, this was not the magic solution that automatically put brand reputation in the recovery mode, but it definitely helped limiting the damage, and rebuild brand perception.

There were two more Digg Dialoggs recorded to strengthen the brand position, and since then Toyota also actively uses Twitter and Facebook to reach out to their customers.

The moral is, it is really hard to fool social media – any insincerity is immediately picked up. So, if your brand reputation is seemingly in tatters, honesty is the best policy. This case shows that customers really respond to brands joining in conversations and being responded to.


August: Major Players Month – Not So Innocent?

Welcome to August – where did the time go? First, let’s define what do we call Major Players. Well, as opposed to the New Kids on the Block – established brands, not necessarily household names, but brands that has been in existence for a while. Since we are dedicating the whole months to Major Players, there will be plenty of time to discuss challenges and opportunities for this category of clients. Today, let’s look at the brand that catapulted itself into a household name, and hasn’t lost the original values of their owners.

They seem to do everything right – their brand message is very clear throughout their products and communications. Look how they describe the beginning of Innocent:

“hello, we’re innocent

…and we’re here to make it easy for people to do themselves some good (whilst making it taste nice too).

We started innocent in 1999 after selling our smoothies at a music festival. We put up a big sign asking people if they thought we should give up our jobs to make smoothies, and put a bin saying ‘Yes’ and a bin saying ‘No” in front of the stall. Then we got people to vote with their empties. At the end of the weekend, the ‘Yes’ bin was full, so we resigned from our jobs the next day and got cracking.

Since then we’ve started making veg pots, juices and kids’ drinks, in our quest to make natural, delicious, healthy foods that help people live well and die old.”

How beautiful is that? And genuine. And sincere. As it has been pointed out endlessly on this blog, the world has moved on, fake and insincere connection to a customer is spotted immediately and spread across social media channels. Innocent maintains its presence on several social media channels, and their Facebook page is legendary. Yes, they do mention their product every now and then, but they also post very funny content – they have so many likes, because the content is lighthearted and interesting, – you wouldn’t mind having them pop on your timeline. Here are a few of my favourites:


Today is Stick Your Tongue Out Day (really). You know what to do.

Don’t see what the fuss is about

I have to stop before I copy the entire content of their Facebook page. You can find them here and decide which one is your favourite.

As far as their marketing goes, who can ever forget the Big Knit Campaign, which is, by the way is back this year:

Again, completely genuine, light-hearted, helping a good cause (in 9 years they raised over a million for Age UK). Actually…. I need to go and find my knitting needles. See you there.

New Kid on the Block: Up Close and Personal

Most new business start as a one-man orchestra. The downside is – you are responsible for everything and anything yourself. The upside though – your brand is already half way there. It’s You. You have been building your personal brand all your life, so, in effect, your business is a brand extention, sub-brand, whatever you prefer to call it. So, basically, you need to take your unique personal qualities and apply them to your business brand. Sounds easy? Not quite, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Take a piece of paper. on the right hand side, write down a list of words that sum up your business: your brand values, your unique selling proposition, etc. On the left hand side, list your personal qualities. Think of what your friends would say about you, your colleagues, your family. Now look at both columns and draw connectors from your personal qualities to your business qualities wherever you think there is a link. You should by now have a little diagram – that would help you formulate your brand, polish your USP and even help you with your elevator speech. By connecting your business brand to yourself, you make it much easier to introduce your business, and to be memorable.

Now, about a girl with a balloon – one of the most famous Banksy’s graffitti. Why did I choose this specific image to illustrate today’s blog? Because Banksy is an ultimate example of somebody fully connected to his brand. Some may argue that art is not strictly business, but we will leave this discussion for another day. Banksy’s art, life, beliefs are all completely interconnected into Banksy, The Brand. So, if you need inspiration, he is your guy:

Geek Chic Month Continues: Picture IT!

Brilliant article on a BBC site today discusses how visualisation tools can help us deal with information overload. Research shows that we are, in fact, very pictorial in our perception of the data, and using available visualisation tools can help get the message across. For technology companies, in particular, the tools can help make their websites and other marketing materials more accessible, which in turn will lead to acquiring more clients – after all, people need to understand your products and solutions. Uniqa Consulting produces infographics for our clients, and we featured them on this blog earlier this month. However, using visualisation tools does not need to be time consuming or expensive, if your budget does not allow you to splash out. For example, online tool Wordle takes seconds to create clouds based on text or RSS feed, and here is one representing that BBC article:

Wordle: Untitled

The cloud can be randomised, colours customised, and there are other similar tools that can help you create the same. Or, as we did mention before on this blog, now offers online tools allowing you creating infographics on the fly, based on Facebook usage or Twitter hashtag.

More importantly, you need to create a culture within your company, where creative tools are become first choice for presenting information. Using mindmapping software, such as MindJet, could be a first step. Again, if budget is an issue, there are free shareware options available. Once you start educating your employees, and yourself act as an ambassador for visualisation, this culture will soon spread throughout your organisation, increasing your productivity, and – which is vital for your clients – avoiding IT-speak. Picture this.



Calling All Pinstripes!

For immediate release

March 30th, 2012

 Uniqa Consulting provides new marketing service to “pinstripe brands”

Helping financial institutions, accounting and legal firms grow their brands

LONDON —             March 30th, 2012 — Today Uniqa Consulting Limited launches its new service aimed at financial institutions, accounting and legal firms.

Lack of defined branding

So called “pinstripe brands” – accounting, legal and financial firms, often suffer from a lack of differentiation when it comes to branding. The services they provide generally do not differ dramatically from firm to firm and the branding strategy usually is an afterthought.

Tatiana Jadgal, founder of Uniqa Consulting, says: “Pinstripe brands tend to adopt off-the-shelf marketing solutions. The brand strategy is often limited to creating a logo and unified look and feel for the company. Uniqa’s strategy will show these businesses how to be different, how to appeal to their customers, who to win over their competitors”.

Uniqa “Pinstripe” Solution

Pinstripe solution consists of a flexible arrangement to develop marketing and branding strategy, completely tailored to each company. After preliminary discussion, Uniqa will provide a plan for the client’s brand universe and marketing communications. The plan will be implemented consistently over the specified period of time – which is flexible too and depends on the business needs.

Pinstripe April

To launch this new service, Uniqa Consulting will dedicate the month of April to Pinstripe brands, and will run various events to support it. Free webinar is taking place on April 16th, and all pinstripe brands are welcome to attend, registration is here: There also will be several regular blog posts throughout April about the challenges of branding and marketing for pinstripe brands, available here:


Founded in 2011, Uniqa Consulting Ltd is the industry expert in branding and marketing communications. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to strengthen brands — any time, any place and across all communication channels available.


Uniqa Consulting, Pinstripe are among registered and unregistered trademarks of Uniqa Consulting Limited.


For more information:

Tatiana Jadgal
+44 78 7777 3059


For more information on Uniqa Consulting Limited:
Twitter: @UniqaTwit