June 13, 2022

At the London Wine Fair 2022

It was a pleasure to be there. We were impressed with the enthusiasm and dynamism of a sector experiencing challenges on many fronts.

So, respect to the following five leaders and taste makers:

1.Hatch Mansfield

...whose stand was impressively dominant at the Fair; it was good to see such a strong supportive presence for the industry.

Full disclosure: we were also there on a mission: to celebrate the launch of Wild Steps wine in cans. This range of sustainably sourced, organic wines is packaged in a convenient 250ml can format and gives back to charities with shared commitments to environmental and social responsibilities.

We created the name, label designs, visual identity and website. Our creative associate Studio Parr created the logo, label designs and identity. Read more about it here

2. French Bloom

Alcohol-free sparkling Rosé with delicate aromas of rose, peach and cherry. Made from organic grapes, this 0.0% French Sparkling is low-calorie with no sugar-added. Delicious. Rodolphe Taittinger is the man behind it. One of a few no alcohol bubblies there. Clearly a growth sector.

3. When in Rome

The introduction of the world’s first paper wine bottle.

Eco-friendly packaging and tasting sachets that showcase high quality Italian wine in the most sustainable solutions around. A really imaginative sampling method, paving the way for new methods of ongoing customer engagement. And incidentally featured too in the Saturday Times - great taste all round.

Philip Scofield was so impressed he developed his own range with them, but don’t be put off. The wine and the eco story is spot on.

4. Wines from Ukraine

It was the first time the country has been at the show. The Fair organisers created a special stand for the winery on the trade floor, free of charge, manned by UK industry people.

5. Poland. Vineyard Niemczańskas

And it was true. Lots of passion and taste from a country not normally associated with wine.

Well, we came, we saw, we drank a little wine. Over a truly wonderful Pouilly Fuissé we talked brand strategy, label design, copywriting and much more.

And we talked about our other winnings on the day. We won a case of wine from the wonderful people at Wine Victoria, the body in Australia representing the Victorian wine industry. They act for 18 winemakers.

So, here’s to developing successful drinks brands

You can read more about our drinks experience here and that of our close creative associates Studio Parr, the award-winning design studio specialising in premium drinks.

Our collective experience includes Chivas, Beefeater Hayman, Talisker, Kylie Minogue, Estandon, Hatch Mansfield, Neleman, Ehrmanns, Marques De Riscal, Albourne Estate, Hoffmann & Rathbone, Accolade Wines, International Wine Shippers, Grange ineyards, Johnnie Walker, Talisker, Jack Daniels, Stolichnya. Adnams, Siren, Tuborg, Tiger, Carlsberg/Heineken, Diageo/Guinness.

Based in the heart of London, we'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new projects you might be considering.

Get in touch here.

Other articles

May 26, 2022

Time for ‘New Luxury’? What we learned at the 2022 Walpole Luxury Summit

(Feature image with thanks to Fortnum & Masons: Platinum Pudding winners) 

We attended the 2022 Luxury Summit this week, put on by the wonderful Walpole.

It was a stimulating, informative, day. And they called it right with a range of speakers who addressed the core issues facing the industry right now. Macro to micro.

From the Ukraine to the success of Fortnum & Mason’s British #PlatinumPudding competition

Quotes, reflections, observations…

1. The Big Picture

War, geo-politics, food crisis, post Covid, US midterms, China, hybrid WFH, climate change, crops, energy, ESG, product supply … it all has an effect. We learn that the world is chaotic, cruel and profoundly unfair; that terrible things happen to good people, while bad people get away with murder. The pressure on brands is immense. Analytics and data is becoming more important, but you still need an emotional analogue quality. It’s called human feel.

Society is looking to brands to fill the void and people are expecting them to lead on solving society’s problems. However, audiences are more connected, cynical, and equipped to block messaging than ever before.

Authentic, real, communication has never been more important or harder to achieve.

For luxury consumers consumer, fun, joy and seizing the day is what is needed. (See ‘Return of the 1920’s blog’). They are now less willing to compromise. They want convenience, comfort – and are exhausted by the last two years.

We all are.

 

(Image with thanks to Hero

2. Climate change

When luxury brands moved in the 1990s from small family-run brands to global publicly-traded conglomerates, their raison d’être, and greatest selling point, shifted from what the item is to what it represents.

They also started to focus primarily on elite customers democratising luxury, meaning bringing it to the middle market consumer.

This has reaped enormous financial benefits for those companies. However, the impact on planet and humanity has been enormous as well.

'You can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet.’ (D. Attenborough). Luxury is working hard in sustainable sourcing, traceability and transparency, de-growth. Brands that don’t take those changes seriously will not survive.

There are some amazing start-ups in sustainability. Two examples: Demetra/Gucci. A sustainable substitute for leather.

Luxury giant Kering has 120 start-ups in materials. It has joined forces with California’s Vitrolabs to make lab grown leather.

And this from Pangaia, while not traditional luxury, shows fashion turned into 'material science'.

3. Luxury working together

We were struck by how helpful and supportive all the speakers were to each other. The usual anxieties about competition seemed to be replaced with collaboration, working together, and a desire for the common good.

4. Learning from the hotel and hospitality industry

We noted several luxury brands are learning how the hotels do ‘know thy customer’ especially how ‘soft power’ knowledge and information is quickly passed up and across a business chain.

5. Using your staff imaginatively

'During Covid we used our shop sales staff to man the online sales site. Sales increased by 60% because the customers were talking to real experts. We have now built that into our model’

6. NFT's

You knew it would come up. Forget the crypto meltdown. There was a view that lux pre-pandemic was complacent. This view says we now have a more approachable, more innovative version of luxury. Which excites some.

The rise of NFTs and virtual realms have forced a re-inspection of status and value. Like the value of nutmeg or cloves in the Middle Ages (you could buy a ship with a handful) through to the value ascribed to modern art:

Also, context and community matter more than ever for brands. It takes constant energy and work. Your brand is very much the sum of its interactions and web 3 means there are many other interesting ways to gamify engagement.

NFT’s will solve real issues luxury brand owners and consumers face: authenticity, verification of ownership, transparency, quality assurance and storage. Believers say the future of purchasing, collecting and investing is centred around communities – and this is very appealing to the luxury sector. Read more here on the subject in our latest blogs 'Metaverse Matters' and '15 ways NFT's might be used'.

7. Design

It's now 'on the inside'. The logo is the beginning of your story: it encompasses the product, the brand presentation and the way you do business.

8. The luxury sector is full of healthy tensions

  • Luxury is a celebration of craft and design. Luxury should lighten a mood, but how this is framed is the difference between fun, fame and faux-pas. Finding a balance between confident, purposeful creative thinking and a sensitive and well-thought approach is becoming a fine line to tread
  • Convenience. But that can also mean no emotional connection
  • Informality. Like low/high fashion/culture combinations

9. Luxury is not only the holy mantras of authenticity, provenance, history, craftsmanship, quality, scarcity, cultural capital…

Luxury is can also be provocative and challenging. It can also be:

  • Senselessness
  • Greed
  • Being unnecessary
  • Mischief
  • Privacy. One of the new desires of luxury . At Maison Estelle. they put tape over your mobile camera. No pictures. No social media, no website, no ads. nothing

  • Bravery
  • Being contradictory
  • Intimacy
  • Being effortless
  • About ownership to subscription
  • About gaming. It’s predicted to be the largest media category ahead of streaming, TV, web…everything
  • Founding spirits. They’re more important than history or heritage
  • Design now being inspired by Metaverse and neon tech

(Image with thanks to Architectural Digest

  • Timelessness

10. The word luxury is not luxury

We need a new word

...

So, who will help you navigate the new 'luxury' (until a better word comes along)

We will.

We will help your brand develop a presence in the Real World – and the Metaverse if you need it.

Anew are brand development and marketing specialists for ambitious businesses of excellence. Whether it’s insight from research, strategic brand thinking, a new brand name and logo design, messaging, online and offline content or website development, we help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution.
We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality, and craft.

Based in the heart of London, we'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new projects you might be considering.

Get in touch here.

Blog sources: Walpole 2022 Luxury Summit speakers.

Other articles

April 29, 2022

15 ways NFTs might be used

(Feature image with thanks to Nicole Avagliano on Unsplash)

It's beyond art

The debate about art – is it/isn’t it – misses the point.

Yes, it’s a Wild West and no-one yet knows where it’s going to lead (see our previous blog on this), but the noise over art, though important, isn’t the whole story at all.

We are currently working in the NFT space and have been listening to some of its market makers and tech visionaries.

Many have impressive financial backgrounds and see the future of NFT’s in a much wider way than just being art world disruptors.

The point is that art and collectibles are not the only applications for non-fungible tokens. The game is much bigger.

NFTs' ability to prove verified authenticity, provenance and ownership using blockchain technology, might make NFT’s work in many other markets. That’s the vision, and as NFTs mature, market first movers expect to see people to try out new uses.

Recap: How non fungible tokens work

  • Anything that is ‘fungible’ implies that it could be replaced by something similar. Therefore, a fungible token is any type of token that you can replace with something similar. Conversely,  NFTs are unique and cannot be interchangeable in any circumstances.
  • Tokens are a key element in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency. They are accessible in various forms and are used for various reasons. A non-fungible token is one of the variants of tokens that have unique features and applications.

15 ways NFTs might be used. A wish list

1. Finance

The Big One. Cryptocurrency was designed as an alternative to the traditional financial institution infrastructure. Crypto assets do not depend on the centralized bank or government. Instead, they rely on blockchain technology. Part of the appeal of crypto is its decentralization, which is seen as undermining the power of central banks.

It's an emotive issue. See here for more on the complexities.

Topline, financial institutions are currently hesitant to fully engage in the cryptocurrency industry, but they want to find ways to enter the space. The future of innovation in commercial banking may well include crypto. Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology might offer valuable opportunities for banks, like the ability to offer greater security, trust, ownership proof, upgrading and streamlining financial services.

2. Fashion

(Flapper dresses (1923) fashion plates in high resolution published in Très Parisie. Original from The Rijksmuseum. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel)

Wearables in real life. The term wearables refer to 3D clothing that your avatar can wear within a game such as Roblox. In 2021, the community was shocked when an NFT Gucci bag was resold for $4,115 which is more expensive than the real bag retailed for $3,400. With a growing population interested in owning digital assets over physical assets, we are likely to see the trend continue.

In 2022, Gap added a twist by announcing an NFT program called gap threads where you can claim a cloth IRL (in-real-life) by owning a certain set of NFTs. GAP created an interesting rule that encourages NFT buyers to commit to collecting a set and created competition by limiting the number of the IRL cloth to 100. Fashion retailers are predicted to follow suit creating and selling both virtual and physical wearables.

3. Pre-owned luxury brands/ proof of ownership

An NFT can help prove legitimate ownership when reselling. For example, a genuine, ethical diamond usually comes with a certificate of authenticity. This certificate is also a way of proving you have ownership rights. Anyone trying to resell the item without the certificate cannot confirm its authenticity and may have problems convincing buyers they are the rightful owner.

In fashion, consumers could verify the ownership of their items and accessories digitally, thereby reducing the risks of counterfeiting frauds. Users could just scan a simple QR code on the price tags with apparel and accessories that is in the form of an NFT.

4. Licenses and certifications

Verifying licensing and certifications. Course completion certificates, such as any other degree or license, are generally offered to successful candidates in digital form or in paper-based form. Universities and employers require replicas of the course completion document as references before they offer a position to someone in a company or an institute.
Administrators could save a lot of time by accessing such licenses with the functionalities of NFTs. Certificates and licenses in the form of NFTs take away the burden of record checking and verification. Subsequently, the approach also delivers an easier approach for storing evidence of course completion or licensing.

5. Addresses

Crypto addresses. Ethereum Name Service and Unstoppable Domains present crypto addresses as NFTs. Some examples of NFT’s refer to myname.crypto or myname.eth. The crypto address of a user is similar to the Twitter or Instagram handle, with each name being unique.

6. Location-based NFTs

At the LA-based Bright Moments NFT Gallery, visitors were given access to mint a CryptoVenetian, with holders receiving exclusive benefits and access to drops at specific locations—eg landmarks, museums and galleries. This apparently is proved lucrative for both the attendees and the location.

7. Restaurant NFTs

While most NFTs are consumed visually, some are making it possible for tastebuds to participate. For one restauranteur, before dining, ownership of his restaurant NFT is required. The NFT will allow customers access to the restaurant, which will offer a cocktail lounge alongside a private culinary experience.

Celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelsson Harlem’s Red created a NFT that can be redeemed for a private dinner for four, accompanied by a piece of art that creatively depicts the chef’s fried chicken.

(Photo courtesy of Stella Artois)

8. DNA NFTs

Many genetics testing companies have faced scrutiny over their privacy actions regarding their users’ data. Nebula Genomics wants to prove that they take privacy seriously. It published its founder’s DNA data on the blockchain where it will live forever, unable to be removed.

9. Property NFTs

In traditional real estate, property transfer is labour-intensive and requires title management. Connecting a NFT with a physical property allows for straightforward usage and easy collateral, an idea Europe-based start-up, Propy, is already exploring. Propy offers a transaction platform with which each NFT comes with access to ownership transferred paperwork.

10. Sports-based NFTs

Sports collectibles are a natural application for NFTs—NBA Top Shot, a platform where people can collect NFTs of officially licensed video highlights, has taken off. Selling for $387k, the most expensive Top Shot was a clip of a LeBron James highlight where he emulates a famous Kobe Bryant dunk. Likewise, Autograph, a Tom Brady-backed startup, is an up-and-coming NFT platform that has partnered with big names, such as Tiger Woods, Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles.

11. Gaming NFTs

Gaming has a huge demand for unique items that are tradable and purchasable. Their rarity directly affects their price, and gamers are already familiar with the idea of valuable, digital items. Micro-transactions and in-game purchases have created a multi-billion dollar gaming industry that could tap into NFTs and blockchain technology.

12. Music NFTs

Like an image file or video, you can also attach audio to an NFT to create a collectible piece of music. Think of it as a digital “first edition” of a record. Attaching a song to an NFT is similar to art but there are other use cases.

A big issue for musicians is getting a fair share of royalties – especially streaming. But there are at least two possible ways to achieve a balanced outcome: blockchain-based streaming platforms and blockchain royalty tracking.

13. Logistics NFTs

Blockchain technology can be useful in the logistics industry as well, particularly because of its immutability and transparency. These aspects ensure that supply chain data remains authentic and reliable. With food, commodities, and other perishable goods, it’s important to know where they have been and for how long.

NFT’s can track a product that contains meta-data on its origins, journey, and warehouse location. For example:

  • A high-end pair of luxury shoes are created at a factory in Italy. It's assigned an NFT you can quickly scan on its packaging.
  • Timestamped metadata is included of when and where the shoes were created.
  • As the product goes through the supply chain, the NFT is scanned, and new timestamped metadata is added. The data could include its warehouse location and time of arrival or departure.
  • Once the shoes arrive at their final destination, a store can scan them and mark them as received. An exact detailed history is available to view and confirm the shoes' authenticity and logistic journey.

14. Consumer loyalty programmes

NFTs can improve loyalty programs as they offer customers more than just points for future use. For example, Clinique, a cosmetics brand, offers the chance to win unique digital artworks to its loyalty scheme members, as well as be rewarded with several cosmetic products in one year.

Coca-Cola recently auctioned ‘loot boxes’ of NFTs, including digital apparel that can be displayed in the metaverse platform, Decentraland (MANA).

15. Memberships/ communities

NFTs provide an excellent vehicle to prove membership in a club, community, or group. They could be used as digital tickets to gain entry to a brand’s collection of products. Alternatively, an NFT-powered subscription membership could provide access to exclusive items, such as early access to gated offerings and limited edition products.

For instance, VeeFriends is a community-driven NFT platform that houses Gary Vaynerchuk’s NFT collection. By owning a VeeFriend NFT, you get to join the VeeFriends community and use it as an access pass to VeeCon, a multi-day event exclusively for NFT holders.

NFT help is at hand

Just contact us.

Anew are Real World brand development and marketing specialists for ambitious businesses of excellence, with a foot in the Metaverse. And we have associates who can advise specifically on this New World.

Whether it’s insight from research, strategic brand thinking, a new brand name and logo design, messaging, online and offline content or website development, we help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution.

We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality, and craft.

Based in the heart of London, we'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new projects you might be considering.

CREDITS

With respect and thanks to the following:

https://academy.binance.com/en/articles/top-7-nft-use-cases
https://101blockchains.com/nft-use-cases/
https://identityreview.com/10-nft-future-use-cases/
https://cryptonews.com/exclusives/6-nft-use-cases-that-will-probably-remain-after-hype-dies-down.htm
https://www.freshconsulting.com/insights/blog/5-nft-creative-use-cases-in-2022

Other articles

April 7, 2022

Metaverse Matters

Klondike Gold Rush or Fools Gold? No one knows yet how it will pan out.

For some it is a New Frontier full of opportunity. First movers are everywhere: in music, sports, film, fine art (Christie's, Sotheby's are there), and not far behind, luxury brands.

If you’re in brand marketing, Zuckerberg’s Meta dream, crypto and NFT’s are on the agenda. So, there’s no point in hiding away from it, if only to be part of the conversation. For some it’s FOMO, fear of not being seen to be contemporary. Some brands whose values are young, disruptive or challenger have to be there. Some just want to explore.

We are currently working with a global art collective in the NFT space and are learning much. Here are some thoughts from the front line:

The opportunity for luxury brands

It is becoming increasingly clear that the virtual transformation of brands has great potential, though not yet fully proven.

The Metaverse is in its infancy and the media is starting to comment on how the brand/Metaverse relationship might look. It’s a space that might offer a wide range of possibilities not yet seen – spanning investment, creation, participation – to a range of consumer communities who can express their virtual identities.

The off/online brand dynamic has yet to be fully realised.

Yes, it’s different, but we believe some conventional brand creation thinking may be still appropriate – i.e., marketeers may still need to work out the most engaging, relevant brand proposition. The Metaverse looks like it’s going to be a noisy place to get attention.

Metaverse luxury brand creation will be about developing rich, compelling, virtual first concepts – backed possibly by offline/ physical assets – that communicate brand equity and build long-term value for the community.

It is a complex story to communicate, particularly to older consumers if they form part of the target market. (Much depends on their digital prowess and curiosity).

The more the Metaverse evolves, the more 'real' it will become

Meanwhile we are all learning, and we all need more intel. Our meetings with NFT companies cover the following:

1. The pros and cons of NFT’s especially in sustainability. How eco-friendly is their mining how does this impact on a brand?

2. Will the crypto wealthy, who are mostly young and male, be interested in NFT’s from a luxury brand? What would they look like and how precisely would buyers get any utility from them apart from initial novelty?

3. How does the current presentation and visual currency of NFTs – simple, bright cartoons, neon-like colours – work with the conventional luxury mantras of provenance, craftsmanship, detail, quality, and physicality. For luxury brands does the past or history matter in a virtual world as it does to many luxury brands.

4. The psychology of buying luxury goods. Most luxury products are ‘Veblen goods’ with usually limited use beyond enabling owners to advertise their wealth and status. NFTs enable buyers to broadcast their wealth mostly through the high price they paid, but only if they receive a positive reaction from their community. How does that experience compare to offline? How do they serve as indicators of unique spending power? And how many NFT buyers remain anonymous?

5. How do you look at NFT’s? The second most expensive work by a living artist, David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), measures 84 x 120in - perfect for the living-room wall. Beeple's The First 5000 Days (sold for $69.3 million at Christies) is the size of a mobile-phone screen, or an iPad, or laptop. Just last month saw the UK's first NFT gallery - Quantas - open in London. IRL: it brings digital art into a literal space.

6. The luxury business model is famously tight. Brands are run mostly from the centre with strict rules to abide by. Control of image, distribution, pricing and description is paramount. With NFT’s there are no rules. There is no one formula, no one way of doing it. And the virtual community may want to be part of the design process. This makes for an interesting debate about control and ownership, quality control, and authorship…Whose Brand is it Anyway. See Roblox for the future.

Observing NFT's world

  • On hype: The main currency seems to be attention. For most people, the very concept of an NFT still feels hard to understand and the froth of speculation surrounding it all makes it harder. But for committed NFT traders the hype is part of the appeal. Apparently Discord and Twitter rooms where NFT-ers hang out, are attracted to the constant chaos, outsized personalities and close-knit communities that make trading NFTs so different to regular stocks or even bitcoin.
  • On belief: It seems a closed insular world to many. That’s the point I guess. But the (young) people who believe in the value of the Metaverse seem really passionate about it —and can appear to outsiders like evangelists for a new religion. Interesting.
  • On disruption: NFT artists reminds me of the DIY values of 70’s punk. Young musos challenge conventional ideas of what 'art’ ie rock music should be, using new technology/sounds/ attitude to reach new audiences. Thus, sidestepping the usual gatekeepers of taste, marketing and distribution: the galleries/auction houses/record labels. Like Napster did with streaming in the music industry. It took a long time for the music industry to see streaming as a positive, not a threat. Spotify is now their best friend.

  • On aesthetics: The results are predictably variable. Much of what I’ve seen is comic-book art, fantasy and sci-fi. What should we expect from a generation that grew up gaming, playing Dungeons and Dragons and looking at Japanese anime? The creators and collectors haven't been engaged with the traditional art market. They are not interested in that or alienated by it. This will change as the environment matures.
  • On the politics of ‘bad’ art: At some level does it irritate the orthodoxy and older people on purpose? Is it a style, like the US alt-right, political, anti-woke movement that is annoying for its own sake. It is challenging the idea of what is worth. There seems no imagination or heart to much of the work on offer. That’s the message.
  • On art 1:  Every age has its art. Is digital art a perfectly obvious natural response to the maturing digital age? Its conversations provoke thought: real/fake, old/young, value and scarcity. What something is worth. One’s relationship to physical things. Ownership. Again, no rules. It’s a ‘Smart Contract’. Creators can make up the rules as to what they sell, who buys. No legals have been established yet. And finally, it gets us talking about the Meaning of Art…(yes, that old one.) And may that’s one of the points about it.
  • On art 2: In the traditional art world, there are three types of people who buy art. Because they want to experience it or live in the same space with it. Because they want social proof /validation. Because they want an investment. It’s usually a combination. Are NFT’s just accelerating all this?
  • On art 3: Are NFTs the logical conclusion of a long historical process of art being more abstract and less and less object-based and ‘realistic’. Commentators point out these abstract theories have become the whole point of art, and some paintings/works of art now exist only to illustrate the text. This seems partly true to me .The description of the art next to the painting in the Tate Modern is sometimes more interesting the work itself. A brand narrative indeed. If you take that further, an artist’s image, their “story,” or their “creation narrative,” would take precedence over their actual work.

  • On value: artists are always creating something out of nothing. Whether they sell it or not, it has value for them at the end profit is something that for many comes second. Maybe much NFT art exists purely to be a type of financial product or asset class and maybe not much thought goes into it beyond that?
  • On generations: young people may have a completely different relationship to virtual assets than older people. They also may have little hope of owning homes or having pensions. Maybe as there are no longer any conventional ways to get financial security, we can see why they’d take a punt on some cartoon art and possibly win big.
  • On physical possession and disposability: And therefore, the nature of change. It’s life. You think you might know a few things, maybe some perspective, then down the line, comes a new paradigm. The metaverse is provocative intellectually. It raises so many issues on so many levels. What sort of existence in the real world – a dual world probably – will we have. And what sort of society are we making.

Luxury brand survival

We live in uncertain times. As history as shows, luxury has always proved capable of reinvention. Luxury has experienced a turbulent history and shown a great capacity to adapt and survive.

In part due to imaginative entrepreneurial thinking.

In part due to its endless and ever-alluring deeper psychological role: The affluent and UHNWs will always aspire to and desire the best things in life.

Many reasons including escapism, a reward, status signalling, brag value, self-worth issues, belonging, value, identity, insurance, power, creative appreciators. Etc.

These won’t disappear in the Metaverse. It will take new forms though.

Who will help you navigate this new Meta-world?

We can, and we don't forget the Real World either.

Anew are brand development and marketing specialists for ambitious businesses of excellence. Whether it’s insight from research, strategic brand thinking, a new brand name and logo design, messaging, online and offline content or website development, we help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution.

We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality, and craft.

Based in the heart of London, we'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new projects you might be considering.

Get in touch here.

Other articles

 

March 1, 2022

How to be creative

Well, a lifetime of working in creative agencies has also meant a lifetime explaining what a creative department does.

So, I was intrigued to learn about Graham Wallas (1858 – 1932). He was a social psychologist, educationalist, a leader of the Fabian Society and a co-founder of the London School of Economics.

In the Art of Thought (1926) he proposed one of the first complete models of creativity as consisting of the four-stage process which remains highly cited in scholarly works on creativity.

So here are the four stages:

1. The preparation stage

During the preparation stage, the problem is “investigated in all directions” as the thinker readies the mental soil for the sowing of the seeds. It’s the accumulation of intellectual resources out of which to construct the new ideas. It is fully conscious and entails part research, part planning, part entering the right frame of mind and attention. Sort of like planning.

 2. Incubation

Next comes a period of unconscious processing of problems. When they are set aside for some time, that may lead to insights. It’s related to intuition and insight in that it is the unconscious part of a process whereby an intuition may become validated as an insight. The experience of leaving a problem for a period of time and then finding that the difficulty evaporates on returning to the problem, or, even more striking, that the solution "comes out of the blue" when thinking about something else, is widespread.

Sort of like sleeping on it, or for those with older memories, going to Marrakesh on expenses to a 5-star hotel to sort it out (Terry Lovelock/Heineken campaign creator)

3. Illumination

Aha. Light bulb. That flash of insight that the conscious self can’t will and the subliminal self can only welcome once all elements gathered during the Preparation stage have floated freely around during Incubation and are now ready to click into an illuminating new formation. An idea has emerged.

Sort of like waking up in the middle of the night thinking you got it. Out on a walk. In the bath. At The-Brill-Building, 1650 Broadway, in the 60’s, they did it professionally. Ideas for songs had to come on time in a working 9-5 day. Brill Building-era songwriting teams were our pop giants: Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, Neil Sedaka...

4. Verification

Testing the validity of the idea and reducing the idea itself to an exact form.

This is the final stage of the creative process. It’s when the hard work happens.

Your creative product might be a website design, a new product feature, an ad, a tech innovation, a novel, a new brand name, some copy, a poster….any item or object that you set out to create, propelled by that initial idea that arose up your head.

It's the doing, making part. That 90% of the perspiration after the 10% inspiration.

Mr Wallas wrote his book in 1926, well before qual testing and research.

I guess you’d now include a validation stage: as we all know, a (sometimes stressful) time of reflection and testing to see if the creative solution aligns with the brief.

So, be a creative

It’s not for everyone.

Sure, an academic can break it down, but did he ever have to stare at a blank screen, again, to write something on some Silicon Valley mad new pivot. And everything you’ve done so far has been rejected. And your boss is in a bad mood. And it was needed yesterday. And the proposition’s dodgy with no evidence to back it up.

Luckily, we know some of the best, most creative, people in communications.

Here are some of our favourites, with the oft used phrase... in no particular order:

SO Creative Studios

  Studio Parr

Paul Quarry

Made by Parent  

Nick Clark

Mallard & Claret

Joseph Berry

Beaumont Reedy

Studio Nem

The Narrative 

And they all work with us.

Anew are brand development and marketing specialists for ambitious businesses of excellence. Whether it’s insight from research, strategic brand thinking, a new brand name and logo design, messaging, online and offline content or website development, we help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution. We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality and craft.

Based in the heart of London, we'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new projects you might be considering.

Get in touch here if you fancy a chat.

 

Other articles

February 22, 2022

Is the conventional ‘brand narrative’ finished?

Seems like everyone has a narrative: political parties, religions, leaders, followers, the minority, the majority, the left, the right, the middle (if it exists at all), the top, the bottom, the east, the west, our friends, bands, artists, the local (pricey) artisan coffee shop round the corner, and of course brands…

Narratives and storytelling have become accepted and used by all. We’re all wondering about story arcs.

Everyone wants to control their version of the truth.

Everyone knows the game

'Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

(L. Cohen)

 

But though everyone wants to be a storyteller - but not everyone is a good storyteller.

It’s like the joke that everyone has a book in them, but in most cases, that’s where it should stay.

It’s the holy mantra in brand marketing – and we do it well here -but has this construct become meaningless because many brand literate and consumer savvy consumers, millennials onwards, are highly aware of how these are arrived at and why they exist.

The day of an innocent Shake'n'Vac jingle are long gone. For those with long memories see the original here.

Is there a different way of telling brand stories which is not linear, not cause and effect?

The opportunity with digital

In theory digital should make for imaginative, innovative story, telling. But curiously though different visual techniques, levels and perspectives are available, we crave simplicity and straightforwardness. Who wants more complexity in life?

Digital should be a massive opportunity. Today, brand narratives are multiple, diverse and many may no longer speak with one voice. Many brands have multiple target audiences needing several layers of messaging.

The marketers’ test is to ensure the core of a brand proposition means as much to micro niche audiences as a larger community.

Let’s consider some ways that brands are telling their narratives imaginatively:

  • Brand narratives as stories that do not end

One way to approach this is to expand over time, continuously unfolding, and being filled in by both the audience and the company.

So, you get narratives belonging to the audience not just the brand. This creates community, belonging and consumer identification.

For instance, Nike’s “Just do it” does not tell one story. It supports performance many ways: embracing challenges, questioning stereotypes, achieving the wondrous “it” and so on.
Apple's “Think different” is as much about us as it is the product.

  • Publishing narratives

Increasingly, brands are becoming platforms for stories. Brands are no longer the author of their story but rather a publisher. It is no longer just a question of storytelling. The brand is story-sharing the content of its audience. What stories are important to tell? And what stories are important to listen to?

WeTransfer launched WePresent, a digital platform and Podcasts that promotes creative work and thoughts from all over the world.

And that comes with responsibility. Look at the Spotify/Joe Rogan/Neil Young story.

  • Purpose narratives

The brand focuses on context and presents itself through a series of actions, relevant to the context. Patagonia doesn’t tell a story. Marketing is focused on “building a movement”. The brand believes in a larger mission and is aligned with its community around what needs to happen. They are not focused on content but are providing context to their community to make meaning and take action around something larger than themselves.

  • Data driven narratives

Data-driven narratives gives people context through terms and user search keywords. They work well for companies that already collect information through their business models because they can frame their comms with the type of data they collect. For example, Spotify scans user search keywords to determine which songs should go on its playlists or to determine which tracks you are most likely to enjoy. From there, they can do targeted communication to a specific profile of users: e.g. Music for every mood

Or ‘Recommended’ based on your listening choices

  • Immersive narratives

Immersive narratives are rarely considered for branding. National Geographic uses immersive narrative by putting the user at the centre of a report by using technologies like virtual reality and 360-degree videos. The visitors of the website can experience what it’s like to see a lion up close. It also allows the visitor to participate in an adventure from the comfort of their home.

  • Cultural branding narratives

A brand sets itself apart by promoting a new ideology. Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” tapped into this emerging crowd-culture by celebrating real women’s physiques in all their normal diversity — old, young, curvy, skinny, short, tall, wrinkled, smooth. Women all over the world pitched in to produce, circulate, and cheer for images of bodies that didn’t conform to the beauty myth.

Womanhood  - a new lingerie site "championing real, unedited bodies" from female-only designers - takes a similar narrative one large step further

Brands are no longer only storytellers.

They are publishers, cultural agents of change, pioneers, social activists, environmentalists… and must adapt to different fast-moving audiences.
If they want to remain relevant and accessible some may need multiple and targeted narratives that work powerfully in all platforms.

Who understands how to make brand narratives work excitingly on and offline?

We do

Anew are brand development and marketing specialists for ambitious businesses of excellence. Whether it’s insight from research, strategic brand thinking, a new brand name and logo design, messaging, online and offline content or website development, we help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution.

We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality and craft.

Based in the heart of London, we'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new projects you might be considering.

Get in touch here.

Other articles

February 8, 2022

Successful luxury brands are like good country music

Think Chanel and Hank...

…Cartier and Cash

…Vuitton and Waylon

… Bentley and Tammy

That's right, it sounds crazy.

This blog points out how deeply country music emotionally connects with its audience - and how this is exactly what strong brands also do.

Richard Huntington, of Saatchi & Saatchi, to whom we are hugely indebted for this brilliant thought that links country music to brand strategy. The connection was inspired by Malcolm Gladwell who asks, in Campaign, why country music makes you cry but rock doesn’t.

That country is emotional seems self-evident.

Poignant, adult themes of loss, betrayal, alcoholism, melancholy, endless heart break – backed up by sad keening pedal steel and lonesome vocals. And minor keys. (Don’t forget the minor keys.)

It’s why so many pop/rock artists turn to this genre as they get older, as country can more powerfully express life stories with sincerity and integrity.

With country, it’s the specificity of the lyrics and singer’s experience that matters. The best ones come from personal lived experience. Not clichés. Not teams of writers.

It’s also about tradition – something luxury understands – and most importantly, engaging storytelling.

Real people, real life stories – real luxury brand success

Many successful luxury brands are rooted in the particular and the personal and have genuine founder stories whose legacies inform the brand.

We’ve worked with a few:

Founder of iconic Canadian aviation company Bombardier, Joseph-Armand Bombardier, grew up experiencing first-hand the brutal winters where the mercury could dip to below zero (-22ºF). Roads would be closed due to snowfall, residents isolated, essential services put out of reach. Young Joseph-Armand became obsessed with the challenge of helping people to move through this difficult environment, spurred on by a very personal family tragedy. The brand has stayed true to the same desire to help, innovate and technologically solve transportation.

Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, born in 1777 married François Clicquot at the age of 21. Her husband died six years later. Her husband's death may have been suicide. Madame Clicquot had to work. She ended up creating a wine that was different to others: less sweet, uncloudy, with smaller bubbles – called champagne. The rest is history. Here’s our case history.

Luciano Pavarotti performs during the opening ceremony of the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin.

Pavorotti’s family had little money; its four members were crowded into a two-room apartment. World War II forced the family out of the city in 1943. Life was tough. He thought he might be a farmer, then a professional footballer. His family weren’t so supportive when he said he wanted a career in music. His voice had to deliver much – and so it did. Here’s how we worked on his legacy with Universal Music.

Symphonia gin founder, organic chemist Ric Dyer, spent his career studying the structure of molecules, searching for the essence of life. He revolutionised gin making by remaining true to the purity of science and nature and invented the best tasting gin flavours in the most eco-efficient way. His career was the basis for the brand’s sustainability strategy. Made in Northern Ireland, it was “Highly commended” in 2021’s Footprints Sustainability (Drinks) Awards. Here's what we did.

Birchall George Graham was posted to India in the 1860’s as an officer with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. While there he planted his first tea bushes. In 1872 he decided to return to India using his savings to make a living by planting tea in Darjeeling. Thus were the seeds of a tea dynasty planted and Imporient grew into one of the world’s largest exporters of tea from East Africa. When they wanted to create a premium consumer brand, we named it to reflect the brand proposition of heritage, quality, taste, and family values. Here's how we did it.

In a tech world, real life stories still matter.

To start building meaningful, emotional connection, luxury brands must not forget the passion that inspires the creation of their businesses.

Strong brand strategy and creative campaigns comes from our experiences, our lives, and our souls - not from Hallmark blandness.

They come from respecting the personal skill and commitment put into luxury craftmanship. All those winemakers, ironsmiths, artisans, artists in their studios, their ateliers, at their benches, in the vineyards, sketching, colouring, sewing, finishing, enamelling, smelling, touching, moulding, soldering…

Going back to and understanding these origins properly – upholding the values and provenance of materials and the social conditions under which a company started out with – is a truthful and meaningful way to attract and keep the next generation of customers.

The best country music understands that.

So do we.

We will help your brand work harder (as Merle Haggard understood)

Anew are brand development and marketing specialists for ambitious businesses of excellence. Whether it’s insight from research, strategic brand thinking, a new brand name and logo design, messaging, online and offline content or website development, we help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution. We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality and craft.

Based in the heart of London, we'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new projects you might be considering.

Serious luxury brand marketeers get in touch here.

Serious Country fans see here

Other articles

January 20, 2022

The problem is, who to listen to

(Feature photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash)

The big picture: it is all too familiar and troubling: someone in the public eye pronounces. We react. Division, usually immediately, ensues. For every tribe there is an opposing view. Whoever disagrees seeks out a different alternative shouty, angry, truth.

Pick your issue; it depends on where you are on the spectrum: Covid vaccinations, climate change, Brexit, Republican politics, gun control, maybe the Moon landings or JFK’s death… the list is huge. It’s a complex world.

The brand picture: it’s the same. There are many and all say listen to me… I am the answer - but more politely. There's so much going on that everything is niche.

Luxury brand marketers speak constantly of bespoke, of personalisation, more uniqueness and choice being one of the future pillars of luxury brand success, but in general people say too much choice is confusing.

'There's just too much stuff, it’ll hang you up dealing with too much stuff
Well, it's way too much, you’re never gonna get enough
You can pile it high, but you'll never be satisfied'

Too Much Stuff/Delbert McClinton

Decisions, decisions

From the moment we wake up each day, we’re faced with a continuous stream of choices. Small, big, they all add up.

When there are too many, we get overwhelmed and stressed. This is decision fatigue, a state of mental overload that gets in the way of decision making.

Covid has added a new layer of complexity to the everyday choices we face. Things that used to require no thought or effort now require a lot of planning. In the Covid world so much is uncertain — and we haven’t had practice making decisions under these circumstances.

Some decisions are now fraught with some level of risk and obviously the more complicated a decision is, the more it wears you out.

Decision fatigue may make it harder to exercise self-control when it comes to shopping. “Depleted people become more passive, which becomes bad for their decision-making,” says Roy Baumeister, professor of psychology at the University of Queensland in Australia and author of 'Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength': “They can be more impulsive. They may feel emotions more strongly. And they’re more susceptible to bias and more likely to postpone decision-making”.

If you are buying luxury, where the choices you make say something about who you are as a person - see earlier blogs on the psychology of buying luxury - that can dial up the pressure, increasing your chances of being vulnerable to decision fatigue.

Business has to reduce choice - which might actually be good for our sanity

Supply chain shortages and the climate crisis is making many companies rethink their strategies, scale back and simplify.

In November last year, BMW’s chief financial officer said the group would slash options available to customers. “Certain combinations make no sense at all, and are never chosen,” he said, outlining how the group would reduce costs and complexity as it increased electric car production. Other companies are cutting their cloth as well in all sorts of ways, in part due to supply chain problems, post-Brexit and post-pandemic labour shortages, and environmental concerns.

In The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, Barry Schwartz studies the relationship between economics and psychology. He debunks one of the great myths of modern civilization: That abundance makes us happier and greater choice equals greater good. Through solid behavioural economics, cognitive psychology and neuroscience, he makes a compelling case that abundance exhausts the human psyche, sprouts unreasonable expectations and ultimately makes us feel unfulfilled.

Who will listen to you and make brand development decisions easier?

We will.

We will help your brand cut through and be heard.

Anew are brand development and marketing specialists for ambitious businesses of excellence. Whether it’s insight from research, strategic brand thinking, a new brand name and logo design, messaging, online and offline content or website development, we help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution.

We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality and craft.

Based in the heart of London, we'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new projects you might be considering.

Get in touch here.

Other articles

January 5, 2022

A little less conversation? The pitfalls of the over-familiar (luxury) brand

(With thanks to Lucy Hume, Writer, Editor and Anew creative associate)

How do you speak to your customers? As a copywriter, the most common request I receive in briefs is to use a ‘conversational’ tone of voice. The rationale is that copy should be warm and easy to understand. It should use the language of the pub rather than the pulpit.

This makes sense: our attention spans have shrunk (to 8 seconds, or shorter than a goldfish, according to some sources). Distractions are rife. There’s always a new tab to open or a notification to check. The quicker brands can impart information, the better.

But when does conversation become condescension? Beauty retailer Benefit routinely addresses its customers, ‘Hey gorgeous’. Sustainable womenswear company Reformation, meanwhile, names its environmental impact page ‘Sexy Math’, in case we couldn’t cope with ‘Environmental Impact Page’.

When I forgot a password recently, I received an email telling me ‘don’t worry, it happens to everyone.’ Even M&S was at it during the festive season: ‘Gold cutlery and crystal prosecco glasses will take the festive feels to the max’, apparently.

The idea that language is becoming ever less formal is backed by a recent study at Lancaster University, which found that the use of the words ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ in both written and spoken British English has decreased by 35 per cent and 57 per cent respectively over the last 20 years. We’re also more likely to use contractions, abbreviations and acronyms.

“The most striking thing is how informal language has become,” said Dr Vaclav Brezina, who led the study. “There has been a systematic shift towards more informal vocabulary and grammar.” Cos, awesome and stuff are in; must, shall and telephone are out.

Keeping your distance

Over the last two years, we’ve all been introduced to the concept of social distancing. We’ve swapped warm hugs for awkward waves, traipsed around spurious one-way systems in supermarkets, and left seats empty on the train. Many businesses are operating remotely; our social lives have dwindled.

With these changes, we’ve missed out on camaraderie, closeness – and yes, conversation. To adapt, we’ve become tribal. We’ve formed closer bonds with our co-habitants – whether that’s housemates, family, pets or houseplants. Visitors, even if it’s the Hermes courier or the Deliveroo driver, have come to resemble intruders.

In this context, the over-familiar brand feels uncomfortable, like that waiter who sits down at your table to take your order. Out of practice when it comes to conversation, we no longer desire it in our shopping experiences – we’d rather have a tracking number

As we step gingerly into 2022, our social lives are once again under threat. Omicron is raging; and while we might have dodged a lockdown, many of us are reverting to hibernation mode.

So how can luxury and aspirational brands pierce our protective bubbles? Here are three ideas for balancing friendliness and formality:

1.  Be personal – but not too personal

Bespoke communication remains highly effective, even for the formal brand. Campaign Monitor found that personalised subject lines achieved a 26% higher open rate than non-personalised.

Luxury brands can distinguish themselves by using formal titles when communicating with their customers. ((If you ordered your Christmas hamper from Fortnum & Mason online, you had a choice of 56 at the checkout. Whether you’re priest or rabbi, marquess or ‘Mx’, Fortnums has you covered.)

Older generations, in particular, will appreciate a prefix that confers status, while younger ones may be gratified to see their identity and accomplishments acknowledged by a judicious use of gender pronoun or professional title. If titles aren’t possible, use both first name and surname.

2. Be consistent

Tone of voice needs to adapt for different platforms: frosty formality and social media make uncomfortable companions. But beware of stark swings in tone that could muddy your luxury brand credentials. In particular, watch out for ecommerce templates and defaults, which can leave you unwittingly deviating from a luxury tone of voice by addressing your customers ‘Hey Firstname’ or informing them, ‘Awesome news – your goodies are on the way’.

3. Be authentic

A formal tone of voice should not encroach on your brand’s identity, or silence the people and story behind it. I worked for a company whose brand bible stipulated that the brand should only ever be referred to in the third person. Using ‘we’ and ‘our’ was forbidden, which left marketing and social media teams stultified and copy sounding wooden. Even in the new climate of keeping our distance, we can be human.

If you need copywriting help, think Anew

Anew are brand development and marketing specialists for ambitious businesses of excellence. We help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution - including copywriting. We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality and craft.

Based in the heart of London, we'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new projects you might be considering.

Get in touch here.

Other articles

January 4, 2022

What’s important to us?

(Feature image with thanks to Artsy Bee

New Year. New Thinking.

Thinking specifically about how we do business. Who we feel comfortable working with – and who we don’t.

Ethics. It’s a small word for a big subject. And it is under the spotlight in the business world.

We spend a lot of time discovering, in great detail, how companies work so it seems right to put down thoughts on how we conduct our own business and what we believe in.

At its simplest, ethics is a system of moral principles. Of course, it’s complex, but we thought that publicly stating our position on some key behaviours might be helpful:

Our four principles

1. We are committed to the highest standards of integrity, honesty, openness and professionalism

2. We choose associates and suppliers who behave appropriately in dialogue as well as acting in compliance with legal and industry requirements, seeking to implement best practice in their industries

3. We ask all those we engage to sign a relationship agreement which formalises conduct both sides.

4. We endeavour to be as sustainable as we can in our own business practises

Ultimately for us, it comes down to this:  do we feel we can openly and proudly promote or talk about the project to friends and family?

What does this mean in practise?

We will politely decline to work with businesses whose values we do not share. These include:

  • Companies whose primary purpose or product is to injure, maim or kill human life, or to kill animals purely for sport
  • Tobacco, or tobacco substitute companies
  • Gambling or betting companies
  • Companies who do not aim to practise EDI  (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion)
  • Sanctioned, rights violating, potentially repressive regimes or companies that do not meet “Know Your Customer” standards

 

You can read more about us here

And if you’d like to discuss a potential brand strategy project, do get in touch

 

Other articles

Contact details

 info@thinkinganew.uk

twitter/thinkinganew
Screen Shot 2020-06-10 at 12.53.50

© 2020 Anew | Making brands count for more. All rights reserved.

 Anew is a trading name of Thinking Anew Limited, 118b Holland Park Avenue, London W11 4UA. Registered in England & Wales. Company Number 11027544 Vat Registration Number 248 1744 9