Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Beautiful bank notes build country's brand

The Telegraph posted a nice photo gallery of "the world's most beautiful currencies." One of my favourites is the bill from French Polynesia.

Although security is an important consideration in the design of currency, I also like the idea of using bank notes as marketing--to promote a country by showing off its beautiful scenery, historic figures and distinctive architecture. Click through and see how bank notes can help build a country's brand.

Update: India just chose a new symbol for its currency, the rupee (symbol is at left). The goal was to "Formalise a symbol for the Indian Rupee which reflects and captures Indian ethos and culture" on the world stage, according to the Finance Minister. Even the symbol for currency serves a marketing purpose.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Tata's Nano gains from petrol dereg

Tata's tiny Nano, the world's cheapest car, was planned as basic transportation with high fuel efficiency (as discussed on p. 122 of the new edition of Essential Guide to Marketing Planning).

Now the Nano looks likely to become even more popular as India deregulates the fuel market and drivers feel the effects in the form of higher petrol prices.

Some observers see Tata gaining more broadly in India because it also markets several diesel cars, and diesel fuel is cheaper than petrol at this point (but possibly not in the future).

Tata's sales are already strong, and with the dereg, the marketing environment is more favourable than ever. In fact, Tata has just decided to go into the financial markets to raise more cash for expansion (having cut debt over the last year).

Meanwhile, Tata has been promoting its Nano with a cross-India drive that attracted media attention and showed the car's capabilities. The Nano appeals to buyers trading up from motorcycles as well as first-time vehicle buyers who might otherwise not be able to afford any type of motorised vehicle.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

What's in a name (brand)?

Five years after changing its corporate name to DSG, Dixons is taking back the familiar name that high-street shoppers remember. Meanwhile, Comet is refreshing its retail brand at a time when Best Buy, a leading US electronics retailer, is launching itself into the UK market.

What's in a name (brand)? In short, everything your marketing stands for, everything your customers can expect from you. Buyers use brands as short-cuts when they're choosing among alternatives in the marketplace. Therefore, marketers must be careful when they rebrand, to avoid disrupting the short-cut and confusing or annoying customers.

Sonic branding is gaining momentum as marketers link brands to snippets of music or other identifiable sounds. When customers hear that distinctive sound, they should be able to name the brand and, hopefully, respond with positive thoughts and feelings. Isn't that what a brand is all about?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The maturing of digital media

Marketing Week discusses the maturing of digital media this week, calling for more experimentation to better exploit the creativity and targeting possibilities. A fully-mature medium should have extensive and detailed audience analyses available to advertisers, which is not yet the case in the digital world (in my opinion).

To deal with this challenge, specialist firms are looking at ways to measure specific aspects of the digital media audience, such as the media consumption of smartphone users (downloading or viewing videos via mobile, for example). With so many consumers dependent on mobiles for entertainment and information access, companies must understand this audience's habits and preferences if they are to be effective in mobile marketing. To give advertisers confidence in digital media, vendors are launching programmes to ensure the high quality and validity of the audience data they provide.

Clearly, digital media will be a major advertising force in the near future. According to one recent study, the audience for online media is increasing even as the audience for traditional printed magazines is stagnating or moving downward. In the long run, digital media will provide advertisers with better and more targeted opportunities for engaging target audiences in two-way conversations about brands, features and benefits, pricing and so on.

While the maturing process is underway, the biggest advertisers will continue to experiment with digital media until they have reliable facts, figures, and trends to understand digital audiences. Some observers may question the need for measuring audience involvement and reaction to digital media, but it's a must for smart marketers--otherwise, how can they know whether they're achieving their objectives?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Coca-Cola's international flavour

Two weeks ago, Sex and the City 2 opened in Copenhagen. Coincidentally (or not), Coca-Cola had these eye-catching billboards put up to promote its limited-edition Manolo Blahnik cans and bottles.

Visiting the Coke.dk site today, the very timely pop-up welcome screen is all about football. On the way to the Manolo Blahnik pages, Coca-Cola shows a "Mission Impossible" video starring an action hero, a beautiful woman, a daring escape and--of course--Coke.

The Manolo Blahnik pages showcase the shoe designer, the shoes and a quiz, offering a few minutes of engaging fun for fashionistas and Coca-Cola fans alike. Isn't this a good way to connect the iconic soft drink with style and pop culture?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Marketing Cunard via Social Media

Cruising the Baltic on the Queen Victoria, I had a conversation about blogging and marketing with Alastair Greener (photo above), Entertainment Director for the iconic Cunard cruise line. Greener is the enthusiastic blogger responsible for the We Are Cunard blog, which attracts 20,000 readers every month.

The blog is an important marketing tool, reflecting Cunard's heritage, positioning and points of differentiation that set it apart from other cruise lines, including all the other brands owned by parent company Carnival. As Cunard makes changes such as adding Hawaii as a port of call, it recognizes that its blog must be relevant to a broader audience beyond the traditional UK audience that knows this decades-old brand so well.

Greener serves as the blog's host, creating a mix of content for Cunard fans who love to live the cruise life and keep up with the line's latest news. The blog gives Cunard fans an inside view of the company's ships, people, places and plans and also invites comments from the public.

Greener frequently hosts guest bloggers from Carnival as well as reports from special on-board lecturers, Cunard execs, and others who have something to say to Cunard's customers. Currently, many blog entries are about the milestones leading up to the launch of the new Queen Elizabeth, which will set sail on its maiden voyage later this year.

Looking ahead, Greener wants to post more videos for added appeal and, to the delight of Cunard fans interested in behind-the-scenes activities, plans an online archive of information about the ships, the officers, and so on.

Another small but smart marketing touch: We Are Cunard is listed on Best Blogs at Sea, an umbrella page of links to all Carnival blogs. Did I mention that Cunard also posts regularly on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook? Welcome aboard!