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Straight Talk with Nigel Hollis

Nigel Hollis Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst, Millward Brown

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Latest Entry
Monday, September 29, 2014

How brands are built (a generalization)

Have you ever had that feeling where something familiar to you suddenly seems wrong? Well, that happened to me the other day when I was looking at a chart supposedly describing how brand communication influences sales and brand building. I suddenly realized that even though I had used the chart in presentations, it misrepresented how I believe brands are built.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

We’re having a conversation here…aren’t we?

No, we are not having a conversation on this blog; at least, not in the conventional sense. I hope some of the thousands following the blog find value in what I post, but that makes the brave few who do comment a very small minority (thank you). I might take the general lack of response personally, if it were not for the fact that even major brands find it difficult to carry out a conversation with their followers. The question is does this matter?

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Monday, September 22, 2014

The brand strategy and tactics of Airbnb

A while back Shareen Pathak, Brands Editor at Digiday, asked me what I thought of the latest brand developments at Airbnb. 

The company has introduced a new logo, and has reached out to people in its community asking them to adapt it and use it to publicize their own rentals.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Better product or better brand. Is it really a choice?

According to Al Reis having a better brand is better than having a better product. Overall, I agree with him. However, I think the balance is shifting – particularly for products or services that are subject to intensive scrutiny and search.

Reis is right that all too many people get fixated on product innovation as the sole means of gaining competitive advantage. No argument there. And everything in life is perceptions. Yup. A better product alone will not guarantee success. Agreed. So where do I find cause to differ?

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Auto brand style wars: can design alone turn a car into a sales winner?

A recent interview with Infiniti Chairman, Nissan Chief Planning Officer Andy Palmer, reported in Automotive News Europe was as interesting for what it did not say as what it did say. Titled, “How Infiniti plans to capture the new breed of premium customers” ,the interview focused largely on the brand’s design ethos while ignoring any sense that the brand was anything other than “not German.”

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hot dog! What marketers can learn from Chicago’s finest.

What is your image of a Chicago hot dog? When I lived in the Western Suburbs of that fine city a hot dog was invariably a frankfurter covered in yellow mustard, chopped onions, green sweet pickle relish and served in a split roll (and whatever else you add, no ketchup). These days, however, it seems that things have changed; you can buy a foie gras or elk meat sausage with quail egg or Japanese seaweed for topping.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Why is Google trusted more than Facebook?

According to a WARC news update from last week Google is trusted with people’s private data more than LinkedIn, the U.S. Government or Facebook (in that order). The update did not seek to explain the large difference between Google and Facebook found by the MyLife survey, but I can think of a couple of reasons.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why brand differentiation still matters

Some people believe that differentiation is not important to brand success. Others seem to have given up on the fight to differentiate their brand. That might be OK if all you need to do is sell more stuff, but if you want to grow profits, you had better continue to worry about differentiation.

An article in MIT Sloan Management Review: Summer 2012 Research Feature titled, “Is It Time to Rethink Your Pricing Strategy?” states:

We find that many managers in (competitive) industries mistakenly assume themselves to be in a “commodity” business. They then neglect the possibility for differentiation and customer value creation and resign themselves to competing solely on price.

The authors of the article, Andreas Hinterhuber and Stephan Liozu, suggest that seeing your product as a commodity tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. They propose that through deeper research into customer needs, almost any product or service can be differentiated.

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