brand essence

Blue Bottle Coffee and the Difficult, Pleasurable DIY Brand Experience

Posted by Claire Falloon on March 24, 2015 10:01 AM

Blue Bottle Coffee pour over

In the creation of experiences for brands, ease is a common theme. In much the same way as you wouldn’t usually advise a brand to go with an antagonistic Brand Voice (something I’d secretly love to try), it’s not the usual instinct to create an experience for a brand that’s deliberately hard. People, we reason, want things to be easy. An easier experience is a better experience. An easy life is a more enjoyable life. Or is it?

I first encountered the concept of “difficult pleasure” via Harold Bloom, literary critic and Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale. While he was talking specifically about the pleasures of reading deep and difficult literature, the idea applies elsewhere too—that greater satisfaction and enjoyment can be gained from doing things that are hard, not easy. I would argue that “difficult pleasure” can justify a higher price point for a brand’s products or offerings too. Let me use a recent example to illustrate what I mean.

A while ago I read an article in Fast Company about how various leaders in the US coffee industry were on a mission to educate the American coffee-drinking public into feeling comfortable paying up to $9 for a cup of Joe. One of the brands involved was Blue Bottle Coffee, and, inspired by their stories of hand-picked beans and meticulous brewing techniques, I promptly purchased a Chemex coffee pot and took myself to Blue Bottle in Chelsea, New York, to get my hands on some of these magic beans.Continue reading...

brand essence

As Airlines Spritz the Friendly Skies, Does It Make Scents for Their Brands?

Posted by Elisabeth Dick Oak on February 12, 2015 02:32 PM

Travel blogs are buzzing with the news of United's new brand scent, tentatively named “Landing.” A light blend of orange peel, sandalwood, cedar and leather, Landing can now be sniffed on jetways and United Club lounges at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

United is not the first brand to hope customers will follow their nose. Cinnabon routinely puts their ovens near the front of their stores so that the drool-inducing smell of its cinnamon rolls will linger in the air. Automakers including Nissan have introduced their own scents. And hotel chains such as Sofitel and The Ritz-Carlton have piped signature scents through their air vents for years—tweaking them for specific locales and even selling them in their shops.

Airlines including Turkish Airlines and Air Canada’s low-cost rouge brand also offer their own branded scents, while Alaska Airlines is working on one, according to the Wall Street Journal. And they’re not wrong to make the investment in fragrant flyer programs.Continue reading...

brand essence

Vans Goes Underground in London for Latest Brand Experience

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 12, 2014 01:14 PM

Skateboarding culture is sometimes characterized as being underground, but Vans is taking the word a bit literally. The brand has just opened a skatepark beneath London's Waterloo Station in a spot known locally as the Old Vic Tunnels. The space, called House of Vans London, will also host house parties with a schedule of music performances, art and film screenings—and it’s all free of charge. What slacker isn’t going to love that?

“The House of Vans London is the physical manifestation of the cultures and creativity at the heart of the Vans brand. London is the perfect city to expand this original concept first established in Brooklyn and it’s an honor to take over this iconic venue from the Old Vic,” said Vans VP of marketing Jeremy de Maillard. “We’re looking forward to building on this legacy, working closely with the local communities and key stakeholders involved in the project.”

According to The Guardian, Vans beat out Apple and Nike for rights to the space and create a brand experience that's designed to "engage and inspire youth culture," one that's fortuitously close to London's infamous legal graffiti wall and the South Bank skatepark on the Thames.Continue reading...

brand essence

Oakley Takes Its Disruptive Design to Retail

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 22, 2014 10:31 AM

Oakley kicked off its first global campaign under the banner "Disruptive by Design" in March, and it appears to be having a positive reception as brand enthusiasts have been posting images of the company’s new “design bunker” at its corporate HQ across social media.

Oakley is also getting some nice face time thanks to this summer's Tour de France, as cyclists grind through one of the most grueling and difficult competitions in the world. The Tour has been a centerpiece for Oakley since way back when Greg LeMond was riding in it.

Oakley challenged itself back in 2008 when two custom pairs of shades were designed and built from scratch in the two weeks before the race got started, according to VeloNews. They served as the prototype for a new line.Continue reading...

brand essence

Made in USA, 21st Century Edition

Posted by Tom Shanahan on July 4, 2014 01:31 PM

When people think of the 4th of July, it’s fair to say that wide spectrum of things pop into their heads. America, our independence, the state of the union, flags, picnics, parties, and yes, those Budweiser American Flag cans.

Given that last example, it’s a perfect time to take a look at the new brands that are making things in the good ol’ U.S. of A., and ask ourselves, how are they doing it in today’s outsourced world, which are doing it best, and will they be able to continue well into the future?

There is a group of entrepreneurs that have been slowly—and strongly—making the case that this is possible, and using the value of brand to build a following and tell their story. The thinking: they can’t compete with countries that can churn out five times what we can for one-fifth the price, so they have to assure consumers that when they buy American, they’re buying quality.

Therein lies the answer to re-building America’s manufacturing arm: creating small-batch, quality-made goods that harken back to the good old days, when high prices meant nothing if they didn’t mean quality. Let’s take a look at a few that are doing it right.Continue reading...

brand essence

KLM Turns In-Flight Entertainment into Elevating Brand Experience for Kids

Posted by Alicia Ciccone on October 11, 2013 04:46 PM

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is at it again. The innovative airliner is extremely socially savvy and has launched some of the most notable brand-engagement campaigns in the travel industry, including a social media-powered "Meet & Seat" matchmaker and a Sims-like mobile aviation game

And now the aviation brand is doing its part to reach out to its tiniest travelers, too. In partnership with Disney, KLM recently invited a handful of kids to a special pre-screening of Disney's new film, Planes. But the screening didn't take place at a local cinema.

Instead, the company parked one of its aircraft in a hangar at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport and invited the kids aboard for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that featured real special effects—and snacks, too.Continue reading...

brand essence

As Brands Praise Equal Rights, Chick-fil-A's Dan Cathy Keeps Up with Anti-LGBT Sentiment

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 28, 2013 03:56 PM

This week, much of the social media-verse was rejoicing: praise for SCOTUS and relief to see DOMA go. In a month-long celebration of Pride, brands small and large made their support known. 

"Brands from a wide variety of industries have found that it's a smart business decision to stand not only with LGBT people, but with the majority of Americans who support gay and lesbian couples," Rich Ferraro, VP Communications of GLAAD, told brandchannel.

"Unlike years ago when companies were boycotted over pro-LGBT initiatives, today companies that actively support anti-gay causes are being met with vocal disapproval from the gay community as well as their friends and families, while brands like Delta, Johnson & Johnson and Wells Fargo are building loyal consumer bases simply by being inclusive.”Continue reading...

brand essence

#Winning: Sephora Reaps Rewards of Dedicated Customers, Fine-Tuned Service

Posted by Sheila Shayon on April 19, 2013 05:18 PM

Since its inception in 1970s Paris, Sephora has been a disruptive force within the beauty industry. Today, the retailer has 1,750 stores in 30 countries and is turning out revenues upwards of $4 billion.

From its very birth, “this new stand-alone beauty and fragrance store was a real shock for store operators throughout the world,” notes Forbes. “The department stores believed they had the only retail format capable of effectively selling premium beauty and fragrance products. They were wrong.”

Acquired by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy in 1997, the first Sephora store opened in New York in 1998. Today there are close to 706 stores in the US, including 386 boutiques inside JCPenney stores, a key element that has kept the ailing department store from drowning. Breaking the barrier of entry, Sephora applied that iconoclastic spirit to wooing a new, younger consumer than those frequenting department stores, with modern brands and a cross-sell of products by in-store sales associates who primp and paint customer’s faces from their choice of products, arranged alphabetically.Continue reading...

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