Interbrands 4 ages of Brand. The brands that have done it for me…and still do

I gave a short talk to my now colleagues at Unboxed a while ago sharing my thoughts on what I was excited about this year. One of the topics was the ‘4 ages of Brand’ highlighted by Interbrand.

One of the questions I was asked related to the more traditional brands out there. Could I think of a well known brand that would sit under each of these four categories in this day and age…

I found this to be quite the challenge, I mean does anything still sit strictly under Identity anymore? Surely all of them add value, experience…

Well having thought about it for a while I have compiled my list. So here we go…

Age of Identity:
It has to be Heinz for me. Are there better tasting beans out there? Is there a better tomato sauce? Probably but then I wouldn’t know. I only ever buy Heinz.

Does it add value to my life? No, An amazing taste experience? Doubtful. 

The simple fact is that I trust the name. I’ve grown up with it. So for me it’s all about the association I have with the brand.

Age of Value:
The  Co-Operative Bank, (Pre scandal of course). I have banked with them for many years now and will find it hard to move away. I value their ethical stance above their hi-tech approach to banking. Being a part of it makes me feel better about myself, my life and the choices I make. I don’t find that they give me the best banking experience but that doesn’t matter. As silly as it might sound belonging to the bank has made me feel a little better about everything else going on in our often dysfunctional world.

Age of experience:
I remember the first time I used my shiny Apple iMac. Limited Edition in Graphite. Unboxing it with so much care. It was the future. USB’s, Zip drives. Translucent. Before I’d even switched it on I believed that this machine would provide an experience like nothing else. Fast forward many years and I still believe that to be true.  With Apple it’s all about the experience…and don’t they know it.

Age of you:
It’s 04:40. I’ve slipped on my Nike+ trainers, fired up the App and I’m good to go. How far will I go this time? How much faster? Where can I improve? How fast did my friend do the lap?

Nike is a company that has successfully navigated the 4 ages of brand with aplomb and has often been one of the first to move from one to the next. In my mind they are the trailblazers, the trend setters. Where Nike go others follow and for me they are a true inspiration. A company unafraid to tackle the unknown. All the more incredible when you consider their size.

So there we are. That’s me and that’s my four. I’m sure these aren’t the only ones and that many of you will have a different view. But that’s the beauty of Brand. It can be different things to different people.


Change is in the air

GOLD-APPLE-WATCHWith more and more of the old guard retiring or leaving Apple it really does feel as if change is in ‘the air’

Looking at the hires Apple has made over the last few years such as key people from Nike, now Burberry and the purchase of Beats last year it feels as if the companies is changing direction. That in Apple’s future the technology will almost be invisible. It will be more about lifestyle.

After all, with the exception of the iPhone smartphone sales are levelling out. Do we really need a 6.1″ curved screen?

It feels like the next logical step in many ways. Where technology is there, but you don’t pay as much attention to it. You care more about the statement it makes, which is already a big deal. Heck an Apple toaster would fly off the Shelves right now!

Apple has become a lifestyle brand in its own right but the luxury ‘gadget’ angle can only take it so far with the masses. Yes the App ecosystem is important but when people whip out their latest device to show the world it’s not Candy Crush you see at first, it’s that beautifully crafted, check me out I have an iPhone 6 Plus logo slapped in your face.

In some ways I miss the old Apple, my trusty MacBook Pro is still my go to machine for much of the day to day work I do but I now have a moto x and surface pro 3 running windows 10. I’m looking elsewhere when it comes to innovation. Go back 3 years and that would never have been the case.

In my mind what Apple is trying to buy now is credibility, in the fashion world, the fitness world etc. The strapline ‘think different’ feels like more of an internal slogan. “Come on guys, what else can do? Who else can we buy? What’s next, we’ve cracked laptops, phones, tablets, TV’s, etc.

Where next… Who knows.

Just my two pennies worth. Anyways, gotta run, I’m off to pick up the Apple toaster I reserved at Argos last night.

What if the iPad Pro and the 12″ MacBook Air are one and the same…

For months now there have been stacks of rumours flying around about the 12″ iPad Pro and the new MacBook Air 12″. But nowhere have I seen anyone discussing the possibility of them being the same device.

Now, Apple have often talked about the approach Microsoft has taken as being a compromised experience, but in my view this has been mainly down to the software.

So what if with the Air/Pro when connected to the keyboard it’s the 12″ MacBook Air running OSX and when you disconnect the screen it becomes the 12″ iPad Pro running IOS. What if the two rumours are in fact about the same device.

Just a thought…

What happens when health insurance companies start paying more attention to the connected world…

watchWhen the initial screens of the then speculated health app from apple surfaced I found myself rattling through all of the possible uses for such a wealth of information. Doctors, personal trainers, life coaches… this thing could be awesome. But then again, life insurance companies, health care companies. What might they want to use this for?

I mean we already have healthcare plans based on how often you go to the gym. Car insurance based on how well you drive, so it’s not that much of a leap to think that they could soon start basing the cost of your life policy on your calorie intake, blood sugar, hydration etc…

Imagine the following scenario in a connected world:

Jill has a health insurance policy, her smart watch tells her how much she pays a day. So lets say that she pays £1. By using all of the sensors in her smart devices be they watches, hearables, smart soles, fitbit, et al both Jill and her insurance company can monitor the condition of her body at any given time.

When Jill is being good, doing a lot of exercise and eating sensibly the £1 a day can drop to as low as 50p. She can see this in real time and the data is sent back to the insurance company. However, if she’s on holiday or fancies a real treat, she may eat a lot more, have a few drinks perhaps. Her calorie intake is much higher so she may then see that she will pay £2 for that day, but is able to offset that by going to the gym in the evening. If Jill lingers outside a fast food restaurant for too long she gets an alert (via iBeacon for example) to tell her that a meal there might push her up to £3 for that day, or maybe just suggest the healthiest option.

Now this could be a win, win. Jill might love this as it gives her more control and helps her stay on track. It encourages her to eat well and she can control her budget. The Insurance company because it gives them real time updates on the health of their customers and adjust their premium accordingly.

Samaritan on the other hand…well that’s anyone’s guess.

Individuality in Gadgets

The Verge has just posted a video titled ‘The work of art in the age of gadgets, 257 gadgets in 3 minutes.

It’s a great video, but be warned, there is a lot of zooming in going on here.

Anyways, the title got me thinking, who makes those leaps now, who is brave enough to really go out there and try something different these days in terms of how a product/gadget looks. Who are the artists?

It feels as if everybody is watching everyone else and iterating based on what they see. Hey, we’re samsung and we have a phone with a curve down one side. Well, we’re LG and we have 2!

Laptops look like they are all designed at 1 Infinite Loop these days, the same with tablets. Phones all now have the standard ‘Gold’ colour option.

We have the ideas and some have been astounding. So why don’t we differentiate more? Do we want to?

I often refer to Zag by Marty Neumeier. The book referenced a change in the way we perceived ourselves when it came to buying branded products. The view is that we no longer want to be seen as individuals, we want to buy into a kind of social network, rub shoulders with celebs even. ‘Hey! David Beckham has a gold iPhone…so do I. Boy does that make me feel great! I’m that much closer to him now’.

The view was that your purchase was more about being part of a herd than standing out or trying to be yourself.

Seeing this years CES I can’t help but feel that companies are still in that place.

I’ll finish as I started though…great video.


Connected washing machines…


Finally manufacturers are waking up to the idea of truly networking appliances. In this case washing machines (Well done Whirlpool/Nest). A good start but it got me thinking about my washer dryer that broke down a few months back. Why does this still happen? It knows if it develops a fault, so why not have it connected in such a way that if it picks up a fault it pings a notification to the manufacturer, a part is then ordered and I get an email/txt to tell me that a fault has been detected and an engineer will be around next week to replace the part.  All of this before it stops working.

I am a satisfied customer with a great feeling about the company and believe that they look after me. Job done.

I did reach out to the head of innovation at AEG with this idea…still waiting. Samsung maybe…

The intelligent keyboard


As I sit here using my physical tried and trusted keyboard I wonder just how much longer it’s going to be relevant.

What if my keyboard were replaced by a touch screen, kind of like the 3DS. It would change based on the software I was using and would in my mind be a lot more useful.

If using photoshop it might throw up my tools. if watching a movie, the remote. With Word, the keyboard and all of the tools would come up leaving the main screen free of clutter, almost in constant preview mode.

Come on… someone give it a go.

*Image taken from