Your solution to their problem

Branding is not about getting your prospects to choose you over your competition; it's about getting your prospects to perceive you as the only solution to their problem. If they don't see you as the only solution, it means they're still shopping.

Rob Frankel, Branding Expertsolution 

Fresh New Launches

The consumer arena has never been more fixated on the ‘new’. 

There's a profound shift in power taking place in the business arena. With a whole new breed of exceptional new brands living by the rules of Business 3.0, consumers are now attracted to unproven and unknown brands the way they were attracted to established brands in the past. In fact, 'established' is now often just another word for tired if not tainted. The future belongs to CLEAN SLATE BRANDS. A trend coined by

Upstarts are making waves: Newer, better, faster, cleaner, more open and responsive; consumers are rushing to CLEAN SLATE BRANDS and are now lavishing love, attention and trust on brands without heritage and history.brands

With the democratization and globalization of innovation (not to mention the celebration of entrepreneurship), brands and individuals from all over the world, are now working around the clock to dream up and launch endless new products and services, that are truly better and more exciting than current offerings. Lower barriers to entry has gone from buzz phrase to reality, especially online. 

New players are by default more nimble and laser-focused on what consumers want now (as opposed to yesterday) than the bigger legacy-laden brands they compete with. Several forces are making consumers immediately comfortable with (and even prefer) turning to a fresh new brand:

The new products and services come from entrepreneurs and companies that are natives in a land where communication with brands is two-way, participatory and less reverential, and as such can connect with consumers in a way that older brands often struggle to. It's about speaking truthfully; doing what you say, saying what you do and not exaggerating who you are.

Simplified, transparent
Consumers have had enough of false promises and conflicting marketing claims and are simply seeking brands they can trust. The fact that these companies are newly established, means that they often have ‘new’ business values – such as higher environmental, ethical and social standards – deeply baked into their business models and practices. Everything from transparency in labor practices, supply chains and design process, makes for reducing complexity – and therefore trusted – by consumers.

The opportunity to participate
As domestic production makes a comeback (because of factors like more affordable labor, a better financial climate and a surge of homegrown innovation) the U.S. manufacturing startup universe is experiencing a renaissance. And these startups are engaging at the local level giving consumers opportunities to participate and new ways to think about and connect with a brand. Choosing local is something people see as a way to make better choices. Whether it’s through offering financial support, by helping to shape a brand’s operations, or even by contributing to the product itself, customers of CLEAN SLATE BRANDS often feel more in control – a basic human desire – and that they have a meaningful relationship with the brand.

This trend won't wipe out all desire for brands with history and heritage. There will still be some consumers, at least some of the time, who will want to turn to established, proven products from trusted, well-respected brands, but CLEAN SLATE BRANDS is a trend driven by a profound shift in consumer preferences, and new businesses should question the attitude, tone, structure and approach of their brand. The characteristics behind successful innovative small businesses and fresh start-ups can be adopted by any brand, including old, big ones: seize the opportunity to do things differently. 

Here are just a couple of recent innovative examples via trendwatching:cleanslate


Ads of the World January 2013 Winners

Best Film, Gold Winner: Microsoft Internet Explorer: Child of the ‘90s

You grew up. So did we. Reconnect with the new Internet Explorer.

Advertising Agency: Column Five, Newport Beach, CA, USA
Creative Director: Ross Crooks
Director: Nick Miede
Art Director: Luis Liwag
Producers: Ross Crooks, Nick Miede, Jeremy Fetters, Melody Mackeand, Chase Ogden
Copywriters: Ross Crooks, Nick Miede, Katy French, Jake Kilroy
Production Company: L’Eloi


Best Outdoor, Gold Winner VSM: Nature’s firework

We wish you a healthy 2013.

VSM is the leading dutch homeopathic pharmacist. To kick off the new year we illustrated their theme ‘powered by nature’ by using the herbal ingredients as firework.

Advertising Agency: Roorda reclamebureau, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Creative Director: Joeri Jansen
Art Director: Sjoerd Verbrugge
Copywriter: Joey Boeters
Illustrator: Magic group
Photographer: Theresa Elvin, Getty Images
Published: January 2013

adsBest Print, Gold Winner: Yoga Shelter

Heavenly Yoga

Creative Director: Vida Cornelious
Associate Creative Director / Copywriter: Dilam Mattia
Associate Creative Director / Art Director: Jonathan Garay
Published: January 2013

Best Direct Mail, Gold Winner: Kamasutra Condoms

Kamalounge Flip Coasters   
A set of six coasters made to promote online shopping on, the official website of Kamasutra Condoms.

Advertising Agency: Interface Communications, Mumbai, India
National Creative Director: Robby Mathew
Creative Director / Illustrator: Vipul Salve
Art Director: Viresh Pawar
Post Production: Cocktail Art Co.


Best Online, Gold Winner: Be brave, be safe

Advertising Agency: The Oddshop, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Creative Directors: Niels de Wit, Robert van der Lans
Art Director: Niels de Wit
Copywriter: Robert van der Lans
Production company: Eyeforce
Music: Jorrit Kleijnen, Alexander Reumers, Marijn van der Meer



Product Expression

The space between the Symbolic and the Concrete.

Browsing through a cooking magazine, overhearing a conversation about the latest design trend, spotting an ad for a new Hybrid; it is all too clear that those qualities we refer to as symbolic (those not literally part of product appearance), take on increased importance in today’s market. In design and marketing literature, this trend is often traced to the fact that many (or most) products appearing on the market are very similar in function and price, making it hard or simply irrelevant for people to differentiate products on such primary criteria.proX1

As a result, products are ever more evaluated in terms of their experiential benefits: ‘What does this product say about me?’. ‘Is this really me?’…and so they need to have multiple solutions, each with its own revealing, value expressive quality.


A recent study by Creusen and Schoormans confirmed such speculations by revealing that consumers’ preferences for product appearance are by and large motivated by symbolic meaning. Many people will pay more to wear designer brand. Of course, a designer outfit doesn’t keep you any warmer or dryer than an unbranded one, but functionality is only part of the story. Designer products say something about you – you are a trendy, sexy or sophisticated person. Brands help us to express who we think we are and who we want to be. Whether its jeans, or phones, we know the brands we like. These are more than products; they are symbols, or in other words, they are objects carrying meaning.


Symbolic attributes of products affect their adoption and evolution. The idea that goods and services hold symbolic as well as functional value has been recognized for decades, but often, management practice tends to focus on business processes: the most efficient and economic way to deliver good quality, functional products. Branding is just one way of endowing products with meanings. But there are others, such as good product design or even process innovation, design that goes beyond ergonomics.


Redesigning, rethinking.

The mere redesign of the outer shells of hearing aids – introducing sleek lines, translucent plastics and a range of colors and patterns instead of the usual flesh color – helped Oticon, a Danish leader in the production of hearing aids, relieve hearing-impaired children from the psychological burden associated with carrying a hearing aid.

Shoelaces Not Needed.A more perfect fit, designed for runners but this simple concept could easily translate into any footwear. This shoe uses a single strap that wraps around the entire width of your foot’s arch. By simply tightening or loosening a velcro strap, you achieve the perfect fit.

Cultural Captital. Infusing products with symbolic meaning.

In food and beauty, the products’ origin and specifically local origin (“teroir”) has become  a factor of differentiation and added value for companies. The so-called “terroir” indication can enhance the perceived quality and the inferences from the regional image on the product’s image. Perfect examples  are the Ahava products from the Dead Sea in Israel. The reference to a special “know-how”, “tradition” and “recipe” is important. A terroir product must not be produced elsewhere because it is linked to the history and culture of the region: something that needs time, experience, tradition that cannot be produced everywhere. Consumers try to find out products with a special origin, because they think the origin gives sense to the products.


The Dead Sea region is shrouded in mystique and is a study in contrasts. Far from reflecting its name, the Dead Sea thrives with life-enhancing ingredients with proven regenerative properties.

The role of “cultural capital” (a special knowledge that some companies have about how goods are embedded in cultural conventions and expressions, and how they relate to consumers’ lifestyles.) seems to play a critical role in how businesses can understand the connections between objects and their meanings. You can encode meaning into products through careful design that will elicit certain interpretations in people.


Some questions to think about:

What are the business processes that could enable this encoding to happen? And how can we increase the likelihood that certain forms will be decoded in particular ways? Can cultural capital be accumulated or deployed in organizations when designing new products?

What do you think?

Packaging as a Brand Touchpoint

Those of us who are Apple people know that when we purchase an Apple product the brand starts in the packaging.
John Silva with DuPuis says:
“There is an art to delighting consumers that goes beyond calculation and measurement. It’s often an intangible nuance through visual language and smart risk-taking that separates the wall-flowers from the heroes.”
Designers that weave marketing science into their art and marketers that allow art to express personality in seemingly abstract ways are mustering to the call.

Great concept by Seitz
Coleman Kids Promotional piece designed to encourage family bonding through camping. Based on campfire activities, and are housed within an over size matchbox. Owl lantern, bear, eating s’mores, bird… harmonica and fire fox for fire starters…

While a brand is more than a package, for most consumer packaged goods the packaging is the purest expression of the brand and often the first opportunity to project its value and tone. Packaging now protects, informs, differentiates, delights and entertains.

Developing great branding and packaging requires consumer insights and a keen awareness of their need-states, combined with visionary instinct and bold creativity.

Illustrator Hiroko Sanders created the illustrations for the new Kleenex “Perfect Slice of Summer” tissue box series. Since the illustrations are the primary part of each carton, the challenge was to create artwork utilizing a style that embodies the spirit of summer, and that works uniquely with the carton design. 

A cool concept created by Antrepo Design, D size battery S&P shaker. These are the last members of “the I’m not product series”.