Buzz around Tintin

In my recent post Country branding: Belgium I discussed an important brand entry point for Belgium -- design. To come back the theme of country branding, today I'd like to share with you the news about The Adventures of Tintin, a highly anticipated Hollywood movie to be released later this year. Because apart from design, beer and chocolate, Belgium has yet another important feature -- comic strips.  

Tintin is a character created by Hergé, a famous Belgian comics writer and illustrator.  Tintin comics have been translated into many languages, with the little Belgian adventurer's personality turning into an international brand.

I'll be curious to see this Steven Spielberg's movie and observe to what extent the Belgian roots of Tintin find its way into the movie. Will be an example of country branding in action?


Brand discourse

We probably all know that successful brands often structure their communications around stories, or narratives.  But have you noticed that people who like these brands are even better at referring to them in the context of broader, coherent stories? This is not surprising, as brands are becoming important elements of the contemporary consumer culture, and we simply can't separate them any more from our everyday lives. An interesting read in this respect is an academic paper (I read a lot of those -- funky branding is often quite a nerdy activity!) Towards a Narratology of Brands? ((Towards a Narratology of Brands? Marius K. Luedicke, University of Ititisbruck, Austria Markus Giesler, York University, Canada, published in European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8, 2008)). The most interesting observations, in my opinion, are:

  • People cognitively process and communicate their lives as narratives
  • They also organize their brand-related experiences in the forms of narratives. The resulting "consumer brand narratives" are "influential threads in people's life stories that explicitly involve brands" (( ibid. )). This is why those funky brands that are able to change and/or improve our lifestyles have a better chance of becoming part of these narratives.
  • Finally, consumers not only refer to brands in the context of narratives, but they also evaluate and share their brand-related experiences as stories.

To illustrate the final point, here's an example of brand discourse related to Microsoft and Apple. Watch the PC and MAC dudes dancing and tell me if you're a right clicka or an iPod flicka.

What's your brand's slogan?

CokeToday I'll talk about brand slogans, or tag lines and the role they can play for building your brand. First of all, what is a tag line? gives us this definition, "A slogan or phrase that visually conveys the most important product attribute or benefit that the advertiser wishes to convey. Generally, a theme to a campaign."

But in fact, tag lines are not only short-lived advertising phrases that are associated with promotional campaigns. Some of the most successful examples can show you that tag lines can be inherent to your brand, and play a key role in building it. For that matter, let's call them brand tag lines.

Some of the most successful brand tag lines have extremely strong associations with corresponding brand names. If I ask  you, whose tag line is Just Do It, most of you will know that it's Nike's.

Other popular ones are:

  • Melts in your mouth, not in your hands (M&Ms)
  • Think different (Apple computer)

For more examples, check out this article.

I am not suggesting that you absolutely need a brand tag line! Or, at least, not immediately after you've launched your company. A tag line can evolve as your business evolves. The best moment to start putting a brand tag line underneath your logo is when you've understood what brand values are inherent to your funky business. This is when a good tag line can work wonders and reinforce your brand.

If you feel that you'd like to give your brand a little boost with a tag line, where do you start? Well, first of all, you don't even need to think in terms of the products you sell because even this might change in the future. I mean, don't put a tag line, "We sell shoes" next to your shoe brand logo. Apart from being simply boring, it will lock you in the shoe business, and you won't be able to get your brand extended into bags and umbrellas a couple of years down the road.

A brand called Innocent (they produce smoothies and juices) has come up with a tag line, Little tasty drinks. It's a bit more interesting than simply saying, "We're into drinks", but it still locks them in, well, drinks. But okay, not every brand thinks in terms of those possible brand extensions, right?

Little tasty drinks: Innocent's tag line

So, what are some general principles you should keep in mind to give your brand that extra sparkle with a nice tag line?

  • Keep it short. Please! I've seen whole phrases that took up half of page -- this usually looks simply ridiculous
  • Base it on your company's brand values, not  necessarily products you sell
  • However, it's okay to give some clues about what your business is about
  • Think twice before throwing in too many cultural references to the tag line -- they might work well in one geography, but won't serve you right if your company grows and becomes international. Stick to universal values instead!
  • Share your passion in a tag line, it will be likely to get noticed

For more info, check out an article on and the Hall of Fame of the site AdSlogans.

Revitalizing tired brands: Chiquita's Fruit Bars

What comes to mind when you think, "Chiquita?" Is this, "bananas?" Lately, Chiquita has extended its brand into fruit bars, based on a franchise model. This short post talks about a Chiquita Fruit Bar spotted in Brussels.

Aomori Apples from Japan

Source: This beautiful photo of packaging for apples caught my attention when I was browsing one of my favorite inspirational sites: The Lovely Package blog. This very tasteful packaging is creation of the Swedish designer Sara Strand, and it will be used as a container for two Aomori apples originating from Japan.

I already wrote previously about branding of fruit and vegetables, notably in my article about funky garlic, and later on, funky apples. The packaging created for Aomori apples is clearly a very strong element that can enable Aomori to stand out from the competition and build a brand. The only kind of information I could find about Aomori is that this is one of the best-known apple growing regions in Japan, and the apples that grow there are simply superb. I'd be definitely tempted to taste them, especially if I came across this wonderful packaging.

Introducing this attractive packaging design should certainly help Aomori build some nice brand awareness about Japanese apples. Good job!

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Best design awards: IDEA 2009

NikeTrashTalkI want to share with you a list of best design awards IDEA (International Design Excellence Awards) 2009 , which can give you inspiration for some interesting products on the market. Take a look at the Business Week web site for a full slide show. Some of the products on the list which have been awarded with the IDEA award belong to some of the biggest brands out there, such as Nike and Apple, for example. Others are less known, but being amongst the design award winners is definitely their chance to aspire for some greater brand awareness. How could they use the received award to build brand awareness? I'd be very interested to see if any of them makes it to the market as a commercially successful product.

In fact, it's not only products that you see on the list. There are also shops, experiences, and even projects that received the award. For instance, check out Colorblind: Understanding Green. It sounds quite intriguing, but apart from the mention on the IDEA 2009 site itself, there isn't that much information on the web about it.

Share your ideas on how IDEA winners could use the award for brand awareness initiatives. Post a comment!

Flirting with your customers: funky, cool and seductive brands on Twitter


Do your flirt with your customers on Twitter? If not, maybe it's time to give it a thought. Twitter is growing like crazy, and brands are beginning to embrace its simple yet powerful capacity to enable dialog with us, real people (aka consumers). Well, at least the online geeky addict kind!  Some of these brands join just because it's a trendy thing to do, and once there, don't really know what to do with it. Others get a bit more creative, attract many followers and use the Twitter medium for their own benefit.

For already quite some time I have intended to take a closer look at Twitter to determine the presence of funky brands there. Funky in the sense of zesty, innovative, and modern. AND, importantly, VERY customer-oriented.

Let’s face it, such great brands, often referred to as lovemarks, are quite hard to find on the web and in real life. My hope was that Twitter, which is known for creating close connections between brands and consumers would attract some of the funkiest brands like a magnet. Or, maybe just being on Twitter makes a brand more funky by definition?

As a point of departure, I considered the UK list of coolest brands and checked if any of them were on Twitter. Also, I added some of my own hand-picked brands.

Some cool brands that I checked, didn't appear to have official profiles on Twitter, but instead, boasted numerous fan accounts, or at least, accounts which contained references to the  brand in question. This reminded me of an article I once saw. It was warning brands about the so called “brand-jacking” on Twitter, but I don't think this is such a bad thing, actually. On the contrary, if your brand already seems to be present on Twitter in the form of your fans' accounts, it can definitely suggest only this: you are a true funky brand.

Here is a selection of some funky brands on Twitter that I have hand-picked for the Schmoozy Fox readers, in no particular order. Follow them and see how their funk-appeal evolves in the Twitter-sphere.

Funky fashion

Agent Provocateur (@msprovocateur), : a famous lingerie brand. Apparently, the brand created a Twitter profile in December 2008 to prepare for Valentine's day, but I see that their enthusiasm for Twitter didn't last long – the last post went out on February 26th. Was it just a short-lived campaign? Come on, @msprovocateur, you should give it another try!

Nike: some strange stuff goes on here. There are several Nike-like accounts, and one of them is called @notofficialnike, supposedly written by the “official” Nike's social media guy. Kind of confusing!

Funky Technology

iPhone: this one has been definitely “brand-jacked” on Twitter as there are many iPhone-related profiles there. Conclusion: great for iPhone, this only suggests its strength.

Apple: same story here, lots and lots of “Apples” on Twitter!

Bang & Olufsen (@Bang_Olufsen) This ueber-cool Danish company which manufactures high end audio products, TVs and phones opened its Twitter account on March 23rd. Only 10 followers by now, but I am sure the numbers will grow pretty quickly.

Funky vehicles

Vespa, an Italian line of scooters produced by Piaggio. It must be a true lovemark, I don't think it has an official Twitter account, but look at the amount of Vespa fan profiles!

Funky personal brands

For me, number one funky person on Twitter is Gary Vay-ner-chuck from Wine Library TV: @garyvee (I already wrote about him on my blog). His Tweets are sometimes very personal, sometimes informative, and often fun. Obviously, lots of stuff about wine. I have no idea how the guy manages to run all these sites, businesses, give numerous speeches, launch TV channels and send messages on Twitter. @garyvee, do you have time to eat and sleep?

Also, Google's founders Sergey Brin (@SergeyBrin) and Larry Page (@LarryPage) are on Twitter. Many people follow them, but they follow only each other. Not too many tweets from them though.

Truly yours is on Twitter as well, feel free to connect with @FunkyBizBabe!

Do you know more funky brands on Twitter? Post a comment!