Archive for the ‘Uncategorized ’ Category

Branding for Start-ups

Our Creative Director Sam Stone talks about the approach we took when branding a reclaimed produce drink, Flawsome!


Brand news this week: IKEA, Desigual, and ASDA

Every week sees new brand movements. But who’s getting it right? Who’s getting it wrong? Which brand is one to watch and who should be worrying? Our round up this week on the latest includes updates from IKEA, Desigual, and ASDA. We’ll let you decide which brand sits where.  (more…)

Auto-switching will threaten big energy firms

Our CEO Vicky Bullen talks to Utility Week about how brand will be all-important to the big six companies wishing to hold on to their market share in the digital-first world of automatic switching.


Vicky Bullen on International Women’s Day

To mark International Women’s Day, We Are The City spoke to women from all backgrounds, ethnicity and ages to find out what International Women’s Day means to them.


Coley Porter Bell designs Müllerlight’s Amore

Müllerlight has launched its first Italian-style super-creamy tasting yoghurt, Amore, offering its health-conscious customers a special moment of ‘me time’ indulgence that is fat free.


Why challenger banks face more than a PR crisis

By Joel Biswas, Planning Partner at Coley Porter Bell.

When Revolut launched in 2015, it had modest ambitions “to turn the financial banking sector on its head”. Founder Nikolay Storonsky was going to “democratise personal finance” in no time at all.

It’s a far shout from the accusations of money laundering, plagiarism, data fabrication and cultivating an exploitative workplace culture that Revolut today faces, just four years down the line.

And yet, though Revolut is the most serious alleged offender, it is not alone among troubled challengers. Metro Bank, one-time City darling, the first ‘new’ bank on the high street in a century, believed “customers simply want a better experience from their bank,” said chairman Anthony Thomson after its 2010 launch.

Open 12 hours a day, seven days a week, its ‘fun,’ open plan, dog-friendly branches drew in a clientele disillusioned by banks and bankers in the wake of the financial crisis and subsequent recession. Of course, we now know the pooch-loving castle was built on quicksand.

Those years following Lehman are important: they cultivated fertile ground for disruptors challenging the hegemony of the UK’s high street lenders. A massive underinvestment in technology by banks combined with a general public disdain for bankers meant that any firm promising to be different — that could match its claims with technology — stood a pretty good chance of success.

These challengers, without the weight of legacy technology, untainted by crises past, had more freedom and flexibility, which allowed them to develop their customer base faster. They built the most incredible brands, capitalising on the appetite for disruption of a tech-savvy, millennial audience, raised in the tumult of recession. Think of Monzo’s coral pink colourway or Starling’s vertical debit card; Revolut’s claims of democratising personal finance or Metro’s dog-friendly branches. Each is branding that created a distinct proposition in a market dominated by competitors offering vastly similar products.

But brand is about more than logo and identity; it encompasses everything from internal culture to customer service and the public actions a bank makes. The sum of brand is bigger than its total parts.

The crises facing Revolut is not a PR crisis alone, but also one of brand. If a disruptor builds a brand upon foundations of trust, authenticity and being ethically divergent to the old guard, then its actions need to reflect that brand positioning.

Strong branding drove Revolut so far. But it was too quick. In no time at all, it became what it set out to change. The bank suffered from reckless growth to the detriment of its ambitions.

For other fintech firms, the news of Revolut, and to a lesser extent Metro, could easily be read as a problem; that all will be tarred with the same brush, diminishing confidence in a sector built on trust. But with every problem comes an opportunity.

The news makes clear that sustainable disruption in mature industries and markets is a marathon, not a sprint. Challengers concerned about the Revolut fallout would do well to learn a trick or two from the old guard. If they’re not already, questions about how 300-year-old banks are still relevant, dominant brands should be on the lips of those trying to capture market share in an industry with famously low levels of churn.

If a true sustained challenge of the retail banking stalwarts is to occur, it will be mounted by the brand that can best invest in awareness, while continuing to demonstrate distinctive difference through tangible service and experience innovation that makes them seem like a genuinely worthwhile alternative.

While the sector may face increased scrutiny, there is no compelling evidence to suggest there exists a distrust of challengers — whereas the pains of the financial crisis, and distrust of those who caused it, are still felt a decade on.

Those being challenged have risen to the occasion, working hard to regain trust lost. They’ve invested in customer service and technology, moved from being functional to emotional brands, faced up to the reality of past mistakes — they are a part of people’s daily lives.

While the advantage in awareness incumbents have is almost unassailable, the job now for challengers is to do the same — to fortify their credentials as viable long-term players, not a flash in the fintech pan.

This was originally published in The Drum.

Behind the Work: M&S Plant Kitchen

Following the launch of our branding for new plant-based range at M&S, Plant Kitchen, we caught up with Coley Porter Bell Creative Director Steve Irvine to find out more about the work.

What inspired the idea for Plant Kitchen’s design?

M&S came to us with a brief to create a new vegan range to launch in January. Working in sprints, we took them from category opportunity to launch in a matter of weeks. They asked us to treat Plant Kitchen like a brand in its own right, so that’s exactly what we did. A lot of our inspiration for the branding was drawn from street food and food festivals. We knew M&S wanted to appeal to a younger and wider audience of consumers so the branding had to reflect this with a fresh, vibrant and informal design.

One of the main barriers to adoption of plant-based food options is perception of taste. How do you overcome this with design?

The secret was ensuring the brand design reflected the products’ superior taste. We needed the brand to communicate the benefit of ‘unleashing the power of plants’; something exciting and dynamic that stands apart from its competitors. Delicious, enticing photography was a key component of the design.

What have you incorporated in the branding to help this new range stand out?

We tapped into neuroscience theory of ‘signal salience’ to find an ownable, category-defining blue for the brand. This was also important in ensuring the brand stands out in store. A non-traditional and playful tone of voice was also key, with product descriptors such as “dirty fries”,  and “chilli non-carne”.

Did you encounter any challenges along the way?

The project went really well. We enjoyed the challenge of making Plant Kitchen feel like its own brand rather than just another product range in M&S.

What’s next for Coley Porter Bell’s work with M&S?

Expect a continuation of our partnership with M&S to help the retailer realise their branded potential within their ranges. Look out for more exciting things this year…

Inside the WPP Adobe Designathon

By Ben Gale, Junior Designer at Coley Porter Bell and winning team member

WPP Adobe Designathon is a competition held within the WPP network, in partnership with Adobe, that aims to develop the skills of the creatives within the network, while simultaneously providing a platform for Adobe to gain vital feedback and understanding about its suite of design programmes. At Coley Porter Bell, we have been developing a close relationship with Adobe for many months to try and get ahead of the curve when it comes to the creative possibilities that we can offer our clients, and the Designathon offered a unique opportunity to develop skills with a relatively new piece of Adobe software; Adobe XD.

Adobe XD, bridges the gap between static design created in Adobe Illustrator, and polished animation created in Adobe After Effects. So, what does this mean? Essentially, Adobe XD is a platform for prototyping websites, applications, or just about anything; to get a basic understanding of how things can move and interact. Are website transitions fast and snappy enough to get the consumer to where they need to be, or are they slow and methodical, to create a sense of care and craft? These simple questions and the consequent answers help to build a brands story and personality.

Our understanding of Adobe XD began in September with Adobe Creative Jam, a workshop to create a prototype in Adobe XD for Ford. More specifically building an application that went across the full scope of Ford’s brand world, encompassing Ford Club, vehicle diagnostics and VR experience. Going in with no experience, we came out of the Creative Jam with an understanding of how powerful this new piece of software can be, excited by the possibilities it opens, from both a design and client perspective.

Naturally, when we were invited to take part in the WPP Adobe Designathon, we saw this as a great opportunity to further develop our relationship with Adobe and build a greater level of understanding about Adobe XD. Three of Coley Porter Bell’s designers, Khristina Farrands (Senior Designer), Ben Gale (Junior Designer) and Josh Payne (Junior Designer), went to Adobe’s offices in Hoxton, London for the Designathon launch event where they received the following brief:

Develop an app in line to Unilever’s strategic theme – Sustainable Living, by choosing to develop an app for Knorr, Magnum, Dove, or Sunlight.

The Designathon was to be an exercise to showcase the technical possibilities of the Adobe suite, yet the nature of the brief allowed for an underlying idea to drive the design process, through the means of Adobe XD. At least, this was our ambition. The reality was that with a brief so open, formulating an idea that could help to create positive change was a real challenge, and something that we struggled with early in the design process, especially when you keep in mind that the timeline of the competition was only two weeks, and the work had to be executed around our day jobs. Ultimately, we felt that Unilever couldn’t truly combat the issue of sustainability through just one brand, but should utilize its network to touch upon as many sustainability issues as possible:

Magnum – sustainability and food

Knorr – sustainability and consumption

Dove – sustainability and community & conservation

Sunlight – sustainability and waste reduction

Between these brands, we felt that we could cover every touchpoint relating to sustainability under what we named the ‘Unilever Sustainability Hub.’ This hub would reward Unilever consumers on reaching specific sustainability targets. We focused on Magnum for this prototype as we saw a clear relationship between the melting ice caps and melting ice cream. The idea was to highlight the emotions you get from your ice cream melting to evoke the more serious emotions you feel about ice caps melting, thus creating a way for the consumers to try and start to understand the connection between being more sustainable at home, and the impact globally.

The Sustainability Hub aims to change your everyday choices to live a more sustainable life. Upon opening the application, you are asked to make simple choices: do you eat organic or artificial; fresh or processed; eat in or take away? From these choices, you get a score, and when your score reaches certain targets you unlock rewards relating to the brand, highlighting the positive relationship between a sustainable life and a healthy life. Beyond this, the sustainability hub helps you to achieve the next reward level by providing recommendations of simple changes you can make in your everyday life, keeping you up to date on the latest in sustainability news, ranking local restaurants based on how sustainable they are, and where to buy locally produced foods. The sustainability hub is ambitiously extensive, but to have any chance on changing human behaviour for the better, we felt it had to be. The sustainability hub puts Unilever at the forefront of sustainable living.

Technically, we were relative novices to the software, but Adobe have created a simple and approachable platform that was easy to pick up and learn, especially once you had familiarised yourself with its nuances. Its minimal interface is of stark contrast to Adobe After Effects which can be quite daunting even to the most experienced of designers. Adobe XD also has third party support through Plug-Ins allowing the Adobe community to build upon the existing software to their own specific needs. It will be interesting to see what the community creates and what lies beyond the horizon.

The overall experience of the WPP Adobe Designathon was mixed. A lot of late nights, lost lunch breaks and sleepless nights went into what we produced; but ultimately, we were happy with what we produced given our limited knowledge of the programme at the beginning of the competition. Although not perfect, we had created an application that went into depth on the issue of sustainability that conveys the implications of our daily actions. And for that we were proud of what we achieved; whether we won or lost seemed irrelevant for we had gained knowledge in a new programme that would be beneficial for ourselves and our clients.

Coley Porter Bell Wins WPP Adobe Designathon

Last November the creative team at Coley Porter Bell couldn’t resist the opportunity to get involved with the WPP Adobe Designathon.

The Designathon is a global competition designed to challenge WPP agencies to use Adobe XD and all its latest features to prototype a creative idea for an app, for a WPP client. Unilever, one of WPPs most long standing clients, was keen to see how WPP agencies from across the globe would use Adobe XD and the power of creativity, to help them bring their sustainable living strategy, to life.

The brief seemed simple. “How can you make ‘sustainable living’ relevant to one of Unilever’s consumer brands in an interesting and engaging way”

Khrissie, Ben and Josh, three enthusiastic members of our creative team, were keen to get involved. They discovered that Unilever have an ambition to reduce their sustainability footprint by 50% by 2030.

To achieve this extraordinary target Khrissie, Ben and Josh believed that rather than trying to combat the issue of sustainability through just one brand, they should harness the Unilever portfolio and create something that could connect all its brands and their associated sustainability issues.

Their idea was to create a ‘Unilever Sustainability Hub’ that combined many of the sustainability related brand interactions you might have with Unilever brands and reward Unilever consumers on reaching specific sustainability targets. The aim was to change people’s everyday choices and encourage them to live a more sustainable life. Aware that sustainability can be a low interest topic, the team were inspired by apps designed for brands like Vitality, and used ‘gamification’ as a tactic to create and maintain ongoing interest in sustainability.

When users open the app, they’re asked to make simple choices. Do you eat organic or artificial, fresh or processed, eat in or take away? When you answer these simple two choice questions you get a score. And, when your score reaches certain targets you unlock rewards relating to the brand, highlighting the positive relationship between a sustainable life and a healthy life.

To showcase some of the exciting new features of Adobe XD, like voice control, the team chose to bring the concept to life for one of their favourite Unilever brands, Magnum. They defined their approach as “Taking Pleasure Seriously”. It took a committed, tight-knit team a few speedy design sprints, some late nights and a little weekend working. But in just two weeks, they created an engaging, dynamic and well thought through idea with a killer Adobe XD prototype.

Judges were assembled from both WPP and Adobe and included Ray Kane (VP Strategic Partnerships at WPP), Khoi Vinh (Adobe Sr. Director, Product Design), Anita-Mai Goulding (Adobe XD Strategic Development, EMEA)

We are delighted to announce that the team from Coley Porter Bell won the global competition and have been crowned the 2018 WPP Adobe Designathon champions. Not bad for a couple of week’s works. And given more than 30 teams signed up, competing from a variety of different WPP agencies with submissions from across the globe, we feel extremely proud of our achievement. We are looking forward to the challenge again next year!

Lick of paint not enough to save private banks

This article was originally posted on Professional Wealth Management. 

Private banks may talk a good game about how they are transforming themselves, but most are really only repackaging existing services. A much more significant change is required, in areas such as ESG investing and in the digital arena, if they are to engage with a new generation of clients 

Heads of private banks are becoming more convinced about some key tenets on which they must base their future plans. Firstly, they must transform digitally to look less like the oak-panelled private members clubs which used to service traditional inherited money. The new generation of investors is simply not interested in the services provided and mentality prevalent throughout much of the old-school private banking sphere. 

Secondly, they have to move away from selling the type of high fee structured products which led their clients to distrust them. And thirdly they need to develop expertise in the ESG (environmental, social and governance) and impact investing realms, which connect so intricately with the desires and lifestyles of the millennial generation. 

But none of this will come easily. Those banks who think they can achieve the appearance of a total sea-change with a mere wash-and-brush-up – comprising some new coats of paint in the client suites and a few million spent on advertising a ‘rebrand’ – have some hard, commercial lessons ahead. 

Consultants Helen Westropp and John Clark at Coley Porter Bell have been involved in many rebranding projects, including banks and financial services companies, as well as retail franchises. They say that lessons from the pharmaceutical sphere – where they saw very few drug manufacturers differentiating themselves from a “sea of sameness” – resonate across the wealth management world. 

There is no doubt that change is happening, as standing still is not an option. The problem, says Mr Clark, is that banks are changing from the bottom up, rather than the top down. They are using technology or legislation as a pretext to reinvent themselves, but most end up still looking the same.  

A client project recently carried out by the agency, in which they compared the ‘values’ described in the marketing literature of the world’s leading financial services providers, saw barely any difference between their approaches. “About 70 per cent of them were exactly the same, talking about empowerment, security and performance,” recalls Mr Clark. 

Few players are actually defining what they stand for and then communicating their vision to the potential audience. This space, is currently “there for the taking”. 

But the banks cannot just define themselves in relation to their peer group. They have to compete now with fintechs, social media firms and payment services, plus family offices. 

Asset managers are all still regularly calling PWM or approaching us at conferences, desperate to highlight their latest product launch, which they want their private bankers to hawk to clients, old-style, to meet quarterly sales targets, to which bonuses are linked.  

By going down this route, they may further alienate clients, who are already blaming their bankers for huge losses incurred before the last crisis. Clients will once again turn on their bankers if they are left without a chair when the music stops at the end of this bull market. 

Many banks are still desperate to show that their asset allocation techniques and cash management are better than the competition, whereas much of this type of work is highly commoditised. 

Social conscience 

The biggest demand among private clients is currently for ESG products and impact investments, which offer a double dividend of financial and social returns.  

According to research from OppenheimerFunds, conducted with Campden Wealth in 2017, 70 per cent of ultra high net worth millennials want to align their investments with their social values. This trend is particularly prevalent among women clients. 

Yet only a handful are providing this vital and popular service. Indeed, in the Middle East the distrust of banks has become so intense that many family offices are barely on speaking terms with the banking fraternity. 

“The traditional private banking club of 20 years ago is all about the assets which business owners are leaving to their grandchildren,” says Mr Clark.  

But the next generation is no longer interested in this concept, he believes. Their passion is for their own generation and society as a whole, not just the fortunes of their own family. 

“Private banks do not understand this external focus of doing good,” says Mr Clark. “They are still obsessed by passing on assets to the next generation.” Those Swiss banks who see themselves primarily as cross-generational guardians of wealth, rather than facilitators of improving society through transfer of wealth and impact investing, are missing the point, he claims. 

Whether or not you agree with everything Mr Clark says – and it all comes from feedback from his clients and the broader market – one thing is clear. To ignore the desires of the next generation of wealthy clients when it comes to investing in innovative, socially responsible projects in developing countries, is tantamount to turning your back on opportunity. 

Globally, many talented bankers continue to leave the big warehouses and start their own shops, particularly in Asia, where the recruitment crisis intensifies. Smaller boutiques talk about the bewildered, institutionalised bankers who turn up at their doors, looking for a brighter future. The first thing they expect is a morning briefing of which products to sell and the investment ideas of the day, handed down, factory style, from New York or Zurich. 

While private clients continue to like stories and investment themes, this product-push approach is now short-lived. Banks are already suffering in some regions, like the Middle East, where there is a clear inter-generational conflict brewing. The younger family scions have lost interest in the good old-fashioned stock-bond combinations which were once the bastion of family portfolios. The new generation would rather talk about private equity and direct investments into hospitals, smart cities, vast projects to enhance eyesight of disadvantaged people and research into cures for cancer.  

The only players really looking at these projects in a serious fashion, apart from a small handful of private banks, are the family offices. When it comes to the private banking marketplace, the landscape will look very different in five years than it does today. The advice from Coley Porter Bell is clear: private banks must differentiate, or die.