Archive for the ‘Uncategorized ’ Category

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.

New Coley Porter Bell brand identity

Jim, Colin, and Sally who founded our agency in 1978 and gave their names, Coley, Porter and Bell, were a force to be reckoned with. They believed in collaboration and ideas driven design, and recognised their role was to create opportunity and value for brands. Over the last 40 years with these principles close to our heart, we have helped many famous international brands deliver brand success by turning the changes and challenges they face into opportunities.

After 40 extraordinary years in design, now is the perfect time for us to update our logo to symbolise our refreshed outlook on the future, our own sense of momentum as we open our office in New York and to reflect our ambition to grow our business, our clients, our services and our people.

There are certain things you expect when any creative agency re-designs its logo, and these are to create something distinctive, striking, modern and with a story.To do this, we set out to modernise the look of our logotype, but to symbolise our new chapter by adapting the three founder’s names to three completely new words through the use of wordplay.

We created different combinations from other famous collaborative trios (like our founders) that achieve remarkable things together (e.g. Harry, Hermione and Ron), to capturing the extraordinary things we achieve with our clients in three words (not easy), to amusing well-known phrases and sayings we use every day. The final iteration celebrates and thanks the talented people who work in our business today

To add to the sense of craft and originality, our logotype was adapted from the typeface Montserrat and carefully crafted by the extraordinary typographer, Rob Clarke. We also designed a monogram version, specifically for use on social platforms. The result is a logo that not only symbolises our commitment to helping our clients create opportunity out of change and move their brands and their business forward, but also to moving our own brand forward as we step confidently into 2019.

Our new logo sits alongside an earlier evolution of changes to our colour palette, typeface, imagery and illustration style to complete the overhaul of our brand identity.

Vicky Bullen, CEO says “I instantly loved the idea and the new logotype the moment I saw it. I feel immensely proud of our agency as we celebrate our 40th year and now feel we have a brand identity that reflects our sense of ambition and excitement for the many years ahead.”

James Ramsden, ECD says “Designing a new logo and identity for your own agency is one of the toughest jobs to do. But what the team achieved has a fabulous sense of personality, playfulness and creativity at its heart, which is exactly what we set out to achieve with everything we design in our studio”.


Branding & Design trends for 2019

As 2019 gets underway, we asked Coley Porter Bell’s CEO, Vicky Bullen and ECD James Ramsden what’s in store for branding and design in the year ahead.

From brand inclusivity to visual differentiation to brand sustainability and more, they suggest that this year we’ll see trends from the last few years or so mature into a more mainstream position.

Here are their predictions…

Brand inclusivity

Brands will continue to embrace a more authentic reflection of the people we are and the things we care about. A broader set of brands will celebrate individuality, support freedom of expression, have a point of view and communicate social issues that matter to people. For example, 2019 has started with brands in the male grooming sector exploring how to re-frame todays idea of masculinity…

This means designers will be breaking down the tired design codes of yester-year and evolving them into fresher, more nuanced visual ideas across everything from content to tone to imagery, colour and design. This will also be nudged by a shift away from brands reflecting people with a flawless appearance, as we celebrate the beauty of imperfection and authenticity – think Fenty. Does this mean that brands and their identities will follow this trend and be less ‘perfect’ in how they present and manage their visual and verbal identity? An interesting idea.

From voice to voice and sound

Last year everyone was talking about 2018 being the year that voice really took off. (And yes, I wrote about it last year on the Ogilvy blog too!)

But (here comes the ‘Googled’ statistic) there are now more than 1bn Google Assistants and over 100m Alexa enabled devices in operation, meaning a quarter of US households have a voice assistant in the home. If you are a brand and haven’t already done it, it’s definitely time to face into the ‘How do I define the voice and sound palette for my brand?’ challenge. It’s only going to continue to grow over the next few years as we see voice and sound ‘follow’ customers around environments, cars, gadgets and more as it becomes an increasingly natural, contextual and fluid way to connect people, brands and their services.

This is still a very difficult challenge for designers and clients to creatively define as voice and sound is so subjective. What sounds ‘trusted and confident’ to me, I’m sure, is very different for you. This may well end up becoming a real ‘distress purchase’ for clients throughout 2019 as sound and voice become an increasingly essential part of the mix. We will see brands jostle for advantage across the platforms, and creative agencies with brand at their heart will continue to build out this experience for their bravest, most forward-thinking clients.

A return to visual differentiation

Brands are poised to return to a more expressive and visually differentiating approach to creativity. Over the last few years we’ve seen many brands and their identities evolve into a state of homogenization. Many logos, brands and websites in a variety of sectors are joining the crowd and adopting increasingly similar visual attributes. (We’ve all seen the posts on LinkedIn). It seems its mostly down to ensuring that brands ‘work online’ and have a ‘digital first’ outlook (table stakes in today’s world of brand). But, there’s a sense of irony here as the volume of ‘fragmentation’ brands have to embrace, combined with the ever-shortening attention span of users, is only making it harder for brands to ‘stand-out’. And at the same time we are evolving and designing less and less individuality and distinction into many well-known brand identities.

Now, you could easily argue that brands aren’t solely defined by their logo, and of course, we all know they aren’t. But, I do remember the days when all we ever talked about was ‘differentiation’, which it seems is what is starting to become less important at both a core identity design level and often their broader application or experience too. Shouldn’t we be designing brand identities that strike the right balance between being distinctive and memorable, and also working beautifully online? And that goes for the logo, the digital environments and everything in between.

One example of where we are seeing a challenge to homogenization is FMCG. Many categories are having their traditional ‘design codes’ turned on their head as new or artisanal, challenger brands come along and create a completely new way to interpret a tired category. This creates phenomenal ‘stand out’ on shelves and on screens and is challenging designers and creatives to think hard about what design cues to bake in to design and help people find what they’re looking for, whilst also offering something delightful and new.

This sits right at the heart of ‘design’ and is a big one for brands to be thinking about over the next few years.

Brand sustainability

When it comes to the impact a brand has on the world and its environment, we are going to see more and more brands move from ‘saying to doing’ as customers demand more transparency, care and honesty from brands.

There are already organisations with sites and apps that curate and connect customers to suppliers and brands that offer more sustainable items and methods of production, even credit cards that reward you for spending your money with organisations that show more care for the world. This will penetrate every sector more deeply over the next few years as brands look at how they can use design to help them bring goods and services to customers more effectively, efficiently, safely and consciously. Already this year has started with pilot schemes from supermarkets exploring a more limited use of plastic in grocery aisles.

Over the last couple of years, we have seen everything from fashion brands upcycling to hotels converting to refillable toiletries. Changes like these will continue to give brands new design challenges as they explore how to innovatively balance understood design codes with those of environmental consciousness. But thinking beyond that, how we design websites, packaging and create campaigns and content will be affected in many ways. The job for designers and creatives will be to discover ways to transparently share the often fascinating sustainability story behind the brand. This is where tech and AR can play a purposeful role, there are over 10 million interactions between customers and ‘smart packaging’ each year and this is going to continue to increase giving brands the opportunity to share how items are designed, created, shipped and more.

Brexit: A new dawn for British wine

Vicky Bullen, CEO of brand strategy agency Coley Porter Bell, discusses the growth of the UK wine market and how Brexit will affect what’s available to the consumer.

Propose at a dinner party that the UK is famous for wine and one will be met with disingenuity. Famously good at drinking, importing and selling the stuff, perhaps. But to quote Peter Ustinov: “I imagine hell like this: Italian punctuality, German humour and English wine.”

While the former two stereotypes will likely never change, English wine has grown up fast, from passable to drinkable to excellent in but two decades.

The UK is the sixth largest wine market in the world and the second largest trader by volume. We quaff about 21.3 litres of vino each per year – but very little of it comes from these shores. Globalisation has made access to Chilean Merlot or Kiwi Sauvignon as easy as turning on a tap. Australia, and perhaps surprisingly, America, dominate our national palate. And, naturally, we drink a staggering amount of European wine. But that could change.

Crashing out of the EU without a deal could limit access to European markets and increase the price of imported. UK Merchants are overstocking mostly French and Spanish plonk in preparation for that very situation. Bu with every problem comes opportunity. If imported wine costs more, because of increasing tariffs or exchange rate fluctuations, British winemakers can look to grow their domestic market share, and perhaps command higher prices.

Though, it has to be said that, at present, the UK has nowhere near the capacity to quench our collective thirst. Some 3.86m bottles of sparkling and still wine were released for sale in 2017, a year-on year increase of 64 percent. By comparison, France produces between seven and eight billion bottles annually. There are single vineyards in Bordeaux that produce over double in UK’s output.

This was originally published in FMCG CEO Magazine.

Read more in the original article here.

Cultivating brand advantage for CDMOs

Planning Partner, Joel Biswas from branding agency, Coley Porter Bell discusses tackling the perennial challenge of innovation in the pharmaceutical industry.

According to some estimates, the rate of failure in the drug manufacturing sector is as high as 97%.

For the rare examples of clinical success, it can take 12 years and cost as much as $2.7 billion to bring a therapy to market.

Unsurprisingly, it has often been easier to absorb rivals, buy market share or acquire the next blockbuster patent than it is to bet on your own R&D pipeline. In the heyday of the classic “blockbuster” model, the premium at the heart of an acquisition was relatively straightforward.

A brand was defined by an underlying technology in the form of a new therapy or treatment area and helpfully denoted by a patent. There was a clear, finite window of value, a simple distribution model, exclusivity vis-à-vis potential competitors and a measurable, addressable market. The moment that a patent expired, so too did an acquisition’s uniqueness, its margin and its value as a brand.

Years later, the era of blockbuster drugs is a distant memory. The innovation gap (or crisis) in traditional pharma is even more acute.

As incumbents look to shake things up, CDMOs increasingly appear to offer the promise of faster, better innovation and are commanding brand premiums of their own. Lonza’s acquisition of Capsugel and Thermo Fisher Scientific’s acquisition of Patheon are two recent examples of CDMOs’ growing clout in the M&A market.

But as CDMOs try to seize their moment, they would do well to avoid falling into the trap of communicating their value proposition (and therefore their brand value) in purely functional terms — what they do, where they would fit into an existing supply chain and how well they deliver efficiencies in comparable, industry standard terms.

Indeed, it is in the nature of an analytical left-brained industry to assess and communicate value in transactional terms.

But it reduces the potential value they can provide to that of an outsourcing partner or supplier, even if they boast a high degree of specialisation. And once you are understood to be an outsourcing partner, your only means of brand differentiation is cost.

And as any other industry that has undergone the outsourcing revolution knows too well, once your relationship is understood in terms of cost efficiencies, the race to the bottom has begun.

If CDMOs want to create genuinely differentiating enterprise value, they need to position themselves as innovation partners. Their functional competencies (however compelling) are no longer their unique selling point; taking a unique approach, adding perspective and delivering a culture that is value-adding is now critical.

After all, if pharma companies are to once again create rather than purchase value, they are going to need partners who offer more meaningful human and intellectual advantages than just supply chain optimisation.

They need Trojan Horses for new ways of thinking and doing. CDMOs who cultivate a higher order brand promise can be just that, while enjoying enhanced enterprise value, greater autonomy in any M&A situation and the kind of defensible brand premiums that, unlike a patent, won’t expire overnight.

This was originally posted on Manufacturing Chemist.

Helping M&S unleash the power of plant-based nutrition

Marks & Spencer has launched its new nationwide product range, ‘Plant Kitchen’ which positions the M&S brand as ready for tomorrow’s diet-conscious customers looking for alternative, healthy food. The ‘Plant Kitchen’ product range’s packaging was designed by global design agency, Coley Porter Bell, and helps unleash the power of plant-based nutrition. The stylish, vibrant ‘street food’ design embodies the modern, fresh and innovative feel associated with M&S, Britain’s highest scoring retail brand on YouGov’s ‘Brand Index’.

The pack design ensures the range overcomes the main barrier to adoption of plant-based food options, perception of taste, by celebrating the natural goodness of plants with a bold brand marque stamped directly onto a pure blue background. The design also conveys a positive, upbeat attitude to help the new range stand out, and places an emphasis on the contemporary craft movement that’s making inroads in British cuisine.

Featuring across 60 delicious meat and dairy-free plant-based fresh meals, salads, snacks and ingredients, the pack design ensures the new range is ready for ‘Instagrammability’ and is as equally comfortable on- and off-pack.

Plant Kitchen meals are the first M&S ready meals to use widely recycled trays, as well as foil trays and cardboard boxes. M&S is also replacing its black plastic trays with widely recyclable alternatives for its popular healthy eating range ‘Balanced For You’ from January, as part of M&S’s commitment to ensure all its plastic packaging is easy to recycle by 2022.

This article was originally posted by Packaging Europe.

Lack of brand and culture considerations causes major M&A failure

This article was originally posted on The Pharma Letter

In an Expert View column, Helen Westropp, managing partner of branding agency Coley Porter Bell, describes how tens of millions of dollars are wasted in M&A deals every year when acquirers fail to understand the value in the brand and culture of the business they are buying. This is particularly the case in pharma and biotech businesses. 

Close to 90% of all M&A deals never get off the ground. And seven out of 10 fail to create long-term shareholder value (according to KPMG). This is often because there is a concentration during M&A deals on the hard factors – extensive due diligence and attention to market considerations, financial calculations, cost-saving opportunities, balance sheet and legal issues – while brand and brand strategy is often overlooked or only evaluated post M&A.

The ideal time to consider the real worth of soft factors, such as brand, culture and people is during due diligence or even better when the target has been formally selected and vetted, rather than later.

So far, 2018 has been the strongest year in a decade for pharma M&A and remains on track to be 50% more by value than the previous year (source: Financial Times). This is for a myriad of reasons – from drugs coming off patent to pharma companies’ perennial search for the next generation of market leading medicines.

Celgene (Nasdaq: CELG) paid $9 billion for Juno at twice the value of its stock a week before the announcement. Novo Nordisk (NOV: N) purchased Ziylo, a small UK biotech company spun out of the University of Bristol, in an unusual deal that both parties said could eventually be worth more than $800 million if a series of milestones are met.

High M&A failure rate.

These are striking examples of a trend that seems set to grow – namely, high-stakes partnerships between stalwart incumbents and disruptive minnows.

Most M&A in pharma and biotech is about expertise, pipeline, portfolio synergies, portfolio expansion or market share. With competitive service providers within the same fields looking to gain more market share and benefit from the synergies inherent in a partnership or merger. While large and mid-size pharmaceutical companies, on the other hand, constantly faced with the pressure to refill their drug pipeline, are continually relying on acquisitions or in-licensing from smaller biotech companies to gain access to new innovation in general, and more innovative drug candidates in particular.

But it’s worth noting that, historically, a high percentage of M&A deals never get done and most that are completed do not result in long-term shareholder value.

Why is the approach of looking at brand and culture later in the process, flawed? While pharmas and biotechs work toward the same basic objectives – they are very different in nature. Biotechs are often smaller and more flexible than pharmaceutical companies and their most coveted assets tend to be their scientific minds and proprietary technology. Pharmaceutical companies’ contributions to partnerships are more often based on regulatory, sales and marketing expertise.

So the process of due diligence, or even better during the initial consideration, rather than when the target has been formally selected and vetted, is the ideal time to consider the real worth of soft factors as well, such as brand, culture and people.

According to KPMG research (The Morning After; Driving for Post Deal Success), 92% of business executives surveyed admitted their deal would have substantially benefitted from a better cultural understanding prior to the merger.

Targeting partnership ‘bliss’

This means focusing on elements such as organizational structures and ways of working; the type of culture in the companies involved – is it fast or slow; does it focus on long-term sustainability versus short-term profit (one of the most common reasons for failed mergers); is it top down, hierarchical and formal versus informal; is it ‘corporate’ versus progressive ….; and how do we ensure staff won’t feel distrustful, disillusioned or disenfranchised during the M&A process.

To achieve partnership ‘bliss’, before finalizing the deal, each party must truly understand the other’s business, the value proposition each brings to the table, and, importantly, the subtle nuances (such as corporate culture) that can ultimately make or break a deal. That way it will provide a better idea of the challenges that will be faced during the integration process and whether/how those differences are surmountable.

It also means focusing on answering early on the critical questions: what are the inherent brand equities of what we are acquiring? When we own this asset, what are all the ways we can create value with it? What are the untapped growth opportunities of the acquired brand or the combined brands to provide long-term benefit?

So, often in M&A, we have seen brands that were the very reason for the acquisition being weakened or destroyed because of a lack of understanding of what the brand stood for rather than just its financial worth. They end up destroying the very things the brand was bought for in the first place.

Bring brand into business strategy discussions.

However, despite the current failure rate for M&A, the outlook needn’t be so grim. Brand strategists can help decision makers have the right conversations and ask the right questions at crucial (and often difficult) moments of the M&A process.

The key is to bring the brand into business strategy discussions in advance of the deal and carry it forward well past the transaction itself into genuine integration.

Incorporating brand at all phases of a merger, from discussions to implementation to integration, undoubtedly forces difficult discussions and decisions but it ensures that people act in direct response to their business strategy and their unique position in the market.

Companies that are willing to spend the additional time and effort addressing organizational culture and brand and thinking about how they will integrate these prior to and during due diligence are more likely to achieve the sort of growth and efficiencies they are seeking through mergers and acquisitions.

With some forethought and planning, there are ways to avoid costly mistakes and retain the assets that made the target so attractive in the first place.