brand YOU

Set your angel free. Awesome thought.

the brand guy

c407e-guardian_angel_by_razvan_c-d6nbvbuThe Angel In The Stone

I edit for a living. Actually, that’s not true. I am a brand strategist. And at the beginning of every big project I amass a vast array of information, ideas and opinions.

My job, as the brand strategist, is to clear away the clutter, expose the truth that sits at the core of this array of information, ideas and opinions, and shape the words that articulate this truth in a powerful way.

The process is very much like being a sculptor, chipping away at the rock diligently and purposefully until the image reveals itself – a concept Michelangelo spoke of often:

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.

For Michelangelo the idea was already there, inside the slab of stone, and his eyes and hands were the vessels by which the idea was brought forth. Sculpture, like editing…

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Winning with heart.

The creative business is a people business – the business of connecting with people through ideas and solutions. It’s sometimes art and other times science. But we all agree that the best communications are those that touch the heart, tell interesting stories and get people to change their attitude or behaviour.

To do that well, we must be able to harness our own empathy and human understanding. Motivations are varied, and if we don’t open up to understand these motivations, we will be less successful in ‘winning with heart’.

At the same time, ‘winning people’s hearts’ requires us to embody and nurture the same values and characteristics (in ourselves, within our companies and relationships) that we are trying to inspire.

What do you do in your daily life that helps you (1) Understand better, and (2) Foster the values you try to achieve in your work?

Change in Consumer Banking

Like other sectors, Banks have always been boosting and incorporating new high-tech systems to make banking easier for consumers and to enable their transition. Here are some developing technology and design changes that are shaping today’s transition in the Banking Sector.

1. BANK BRANCHES.

The bricks-and-mortar locations where banks traditionally conduct business in person with their customers are going through a big period of transformation.

Banks are closing branches, relocating branches, shrinking the square footage of branches and moving branches into shopping-center spaces to be closer to their consumer. They’re also changing the nature of services that banks offer customers at branches.

Transactions, which have been the backbone of branches, are migrating out of the branch and into other channels – Mobile apps, online, ATMs and other technology influences are taking the transactions out of the branch itself. “Intelligent ATMs” offer more transaction services or video screens that can connect customers to live tellers at call centers.

2. UNIVERSAL BANKERS

As transactions move out of branches, tellers must become less transaction-oriented and more focused on sales of bank products and services.

Even their job titles have changed from teller to personal banker, and now, universal banker. This new position describes branch employees who not only process transactions but also pitch products and services to customers through cross-selling and up-selling.

3. MOBILE APPS

Early on, banks experimented with mobile, website-based banking services. But the trend today is toward mobile banking apps designed to deliver banking services via a smartphone.

Most banking apps allow customers to check account balances, review transactions, transfer funds from one account to another within the bank and pay bills within the bank or externally.

The big unknown is the extent to which mobile banking apps also will allow customers to complete transactions that are harder to authenticate remotely.

4. SECURITY

The risk of identity theft creates the incentive for consumers to take responsibility for the safety and security of their personal financial information. Whether that means a password-protected cellphone or one with virus protection, consumers have to be smart users of technology.

Banks are doing their part, too. One trend is stricter authentication systems that require more than a simple username and uncomplicated password to access a bank account.

But banks today don’t stop with authentication. Many are taking “a layered approach” that begins with authentication and adds plenty of other security systems.

“It’s like securing a house, you want strong locks, but you shouldn’t stop at the locks.”

5. CARD CHIPS

Transaction security, in particular, will continue to be a challenge.

The magnetic strip, or “mag stripe,” found on the back of most debit cards and credit cards is old technology. The new tech, already widely used in Europe, involves a so-called EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip, which is much more secure than a mag stripe. The EMV chip produces unique coding for each transaction and transfers some of the liability for fraudulent transactions from banks to retailers.

Some past data breaches (for example target in the U.S) may have been prevented by having more robust card technology.

“I think we could see some drastic changes in the way we bank and the way the card is used”

6. PAYMENT TECHNOLOGIES TARGET CASH

Despite the ubiquity of plastic payment options, consumers still use cash and coin to pay for plenty of goods and services, particularly when small dollar amounts are involved. And much of that cash and coin passes through bank accounts at some point or another.

That could change as new payment technologies, like smartphone wallets and virtual currencies, make a run at displacing the cash and coin.

Banks offer some of these technologies, but many other nonbank companies also do it. That could mean some stiff competition in cash-replacement, technology-based services.

Source: http://www.bankrate.com

Image source: https://www.123rf.com

I challenge you to think positively about the #EtisalatChallenge

The laws of physics demonstrate that “For every trend, there is an equal and opposite counter trend” and I am a firm believer in this principle. There never is an absolute truth, rather there are a series of forces that shape our lives and we each choose what suits us – there is no black and white, but a series of grey.

And so it is with the #etisalatchallenge. For years people have been complaining that the Telco “doesn’t listen” “is old fashioned” and “doesn’t reach out to the community” – and then finally when it does, it gets bagged out on social media.

I know there are only 2 Telco’s in the UAE but that is precisely why the #etisalatchallenge is so bold – because rather than rest on their laurels, Etisalat is trying to show the market that they are serious about offering best in market products and services. And if you check out their web site, they do have offers that are first in market and quite useful for some.

What this campaign has done is create a conversation around Etisalat – it invites people to be part of the conversation either through the #etisalatchallenge or via opinions about the campaign – and that’s what every brand wishes for, to start a conversation.

I think rather than critisizing Etisalat’s move, we should be supporting and encouraging this gesture by a prominent and iconic UAE brand. Maybe it could have been done in a more relevant way (somebody should have told the agency how to develop likeable content that gains traction, or how to use brand ambassadors meaningfully, and how to listen to customers on social media platforms and solve their problems) – but it takes guts to challenge people and live up to the challenge. And, taking a Challenger position is not something usually done by an established player.

Brands that want to stay relevant constantly innovate and challenge themselves. And this is exactly what Etisalat has done. And now Etisalat needs to go further by listening and learning from customer feedback. And I challenge other brands in the UAE to be open and transparent about their products and customer service, and to put in place mechanisms that help identify and resolve customer complaints.

#UAEbrandchallenge

Internet Connected Coffee Jar

coffee cup

Here’s a coffee jar that sends you a message when the coffee runs low. That sounds awesome to me since I often run out of my locally roasted, direct trade coffee.

This can be applied to other things that regularly need top-ups like medicine, milk, diapers. Imagine if it was also connected to the local supermarket, coffee roaster, butcher, fruit & vegetable supplier or the pharmacy.

This could be a helpful idea, as long as one could disengage it at times when we need to explore and try something new.

Source: http://bit.ly/1EOgpZi