At Open we identify and examine customer issues. At DNA we deliver on that thinking.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein

Brand Experience

A view from the front row

Fashion, and fashion shows – are they all the same everywhere – or do we do fashion and fashion week just a little bit more 'our way'… recently I got a taste of one local event that helped me see that its a bit of both – but that is a good thing.

I went to one of the Wellington Fashion week events – the catwalk show for the new season release of Kathryn Wilson and Miss Wilson shoes – and was firmly in the 'corporate' crowd in attendance (as opposed to the 'fashion crowd'). That said I was keenly interested as to how we meet the world class standard, and yet deliver a uniquely New Zealand experience or bit of X factor in to the mix.

We arrived, got the swing tag, grabbed a glass of Champagne and started to mingle (as you do). We met Kathryn who was doing the rounds – but managing to lock on to everyone she spoke to in a genuine and engaging way (points for integrity and a genuine charm – but then Kathryn is special).

The chatting, the champagne, the canapés and the anticipation in Wellington's BMW showroom which was the venue for the show were all great. We could see upstairs to what are offices by day but were where the models, the minders and the hair and makeup were all getting the finishing touches. We we're chatting next to the latest mini models and awaiting the catwalk to unleash the collection on models of another kind – in fact I was talking to the Mole (the Mrs that is) and we thought we could have been anywhere – the leggy models, toney crowd, techno music and snappa gallery all waiting for the show to begin.

More

Brand Experience

Working in style

Grenville Main April 2013

A question I pondered recently – is service experience able to be designed, or does it already need to be in your DNA in order to happen? The following story sets out an answer:

Working Style – the eponymous mens tailor recently saved my bacon (well, actually my gut from hanging out)… and I am not just indebted to them, I think I actually love them.

Recently I was in Auckland, had carefully packed everything to attend a toney black tie event – shoes, tick; matching socks, tick; suit, tick; bow tie, tick; cufflinks, tick. You get the picture. So all day I worked in the office, got a ton done but as usual was running a little late for the event when I raced to the men's to change… and there it was that the terror of not remembering the fundamental black tie trap – the white shirt (tick) needs those pesky little metal studs (cross) – cause it doesn't have buttons like a normal shirt.

So, the sweats break out, I try (yeah I really did) to see if I could fudge closing the shirt with two pairs of cufflinks (fail) and then started to panic. The options seemed clear (and there were really only 3). One – figure out something with paper clips or maybe double sided tape; Two – just don't go, feign illness, lie to the other half about why you couldn't make it, but don't show up with your shirt open at the beginning of the evening; Three – think of something else real fast – surely you know someone close who might be able to help…

So it came to me – Working Style, off to the website, grabbed the Chancery store number (where I'd bought the sodding shirt the year before for the same event!) and call… they have just closed, but hear the panic in my voice, seem to actually care enough to stay open while I sprint semi-clad through downtown Auckland rush hour traffic and help me out. Arriving at a serene and somewhat closed store, I tap at the door and are allowed entry. What awaits was a lifesaver. The guys had already denuded a mannequin of said studs and had them ready in the change room for me, after changing wouldn't take my money, re-tied the bow tie I'd managed to mangle on my cross town dash, and wished me a fantastic and more relaxing evening ahead. Then off I went, out into the bright lights of Auckland, the AMP Scholarship annual awards dinner and a great night.

Saved. So, you see, I have to love Working Style.

More

Brand Experience

Out of the cave or the mob will get you!

I can't believe that I still hear people say, "All press is good press." There was a time when this statement was true – however at that same time the ‘brand’ authority within an organisation had the power, influence and impact of a highly trained 'operative' to create an often elegant and always heavily orchestrated reality. Today this statement is anachronistic, as the ‘brand’ authority has little control over issues. The influence of the 'operative' has been relegated to the status of rent-a-cop.

More
Title here

Brand Experience

Oooh, shiny thing!

Donna Maxwell June 2011

Everyone likes shiny new toys, especially marketers, and the new toys keep rolling in thick and fast... mobile marketing, SM channels, social vending, location-based marketing, NFC...

Choosing whether to play with these new toys is surely the most critical part of a marketer’s job today. Does your marketing team have the know-how to make these decisions? Does your agency have the expertise and impartiality to help?

There are the obvious questions to ask before you look into using one of the new toys – do our customers understand / want this thing, do we have the ability to leverage it and will we see a ROI? But what other questions are there to ask and have you worked out who you can ask them of?

More

Brand Experience

Bonding with a new brand

Jules Robinson August 2011

We’ve all been through it, when something breaks you weigh up its value against the effort and expense of getting a new one, and trying to fix it yourself. I’m more of a fixer – primarily because I’m tight with money – but also, I think, because of the achievement factor. After years of fixing and refixing a plastic handle back onto a steamer lid (with superglue) it was becoming increasing frustrating each time it broke off again, as well as being slightly dangerous if you were actually using it.

So when I heard about Sugru it seemed too good to be true, a mouldable ‘glue’ to hack all your old broken things back together. It works in almost all environments, materials, temperatures... WOW its really looks like the wonder glue and the answer to my problem! A lovely impression to start with, their website is clear and well designed and they seemed pretty on to it. Even ordering was a breeze, as I was a beginner (and actually didn’t need that much of it) I went for the mini 6 pack. However I tend need to see to believe so until it arrived I have to admit I was still a bit of a disbeliever.

More
Title here

Brand Experience

Assumption is the mother of all cock-ups

Aaron Carson June 2011

Regardless of whether you’re delivering mobile phone apps, business strategy or pizza, if you’re any good and stick at it long enough you’ll end up with a reputation. A good reputation is obviously a great thing to have – this intangible equity pays real dividends when you’re trying to attract the right staff and win new business. It’s also what brands are built on.

The problem with a good reputation is when you start to rely on it and take all the work invested in building it for granted. The minute you assume that because you’ve succeeded before, you’ll never fail, is the minute you’re in trouble. If you assume nothing when approaching a new project it won’t be a guarantee of success, but it will mean that even in the face of possible failure you’ll be less likely to repeat the same mistakes in the future. Evolution requires it, survival depends on it and business thrives on it.

Experience is great but it’s unbeatable when linked to open mindedness, curiosity and a desire to challenge accepted thinking and uncover real insights.

More
Title here

Brand Experience

Everyone has baggage

Josh Burt September 2011

In fact we had bag-loads courtesy of my fiancés desire to pack for every conceivable occasion as we arrived at a prominent hotel in Hong Kong. Despite the luggage challenge, I was excited about the prospect of staying at a hotel that was about 3 stars above my usual station. Armed with confidence given this hotel rated highly in its star category, the last minute website deal that gave us an attractive rate, the positive guest review comments posted, not to mention the free upgrade voucher to a suite – my expectations were high. And this hotel delivered – the sweet scented foyer was grand, the front line staff were friendly and attentive, the room was beautiful with more technology than I knew what to do with, the roof top pool had exceptional views, alluring bars, quality restaurants, cigar rooms, spa facilities and the list goes on.

But in a field where a 5-6 star rating suggests a place is ‘top class’ – how do you rate one ‘exceptional’ hotel from another? Does price set the expectation or is it the comfort of the bed, the size of the television, the proximity of its location or the depth of the mini bar that wins us over? Is it the ‘grandness’ of the foyer or genuineness of the smile that greets you? The balance of such expectations are of course essential, but what is to say a five star hotel down the road would not deliver an equally impressive experience? It’s the little things you may say, but how do you define what they are?

More
Title here

Brand Experience

First impressions count, but then, they all do don't they?

I recently bought a big ticket item, a leather lounge suite. It was a great sales process, got a good price too. But recently a Fair Go programme called the genuineness of said leather into question. Upon my query to the ‘contact us’ email link on the manufacturers website I was assured from the owner himself (in the space of 12 hours) of the suite’s composition. I was reassured and my purchase felt vindicated all at once. 

It gave me reason to ponder on what the critical success factors in managing customers post sales would be. I think getting the most senior person to respond is critical; it shows you take them seriously. Do it quickly, within 24 hours; this shows willing and that you’re treating them with respect. Be honest, be transparent; customers smell bullshit a mile off. As a result you might just end up with the most convincing marketing possible; word of mouth. I’ve told everyone in a mile radius of my positive experience, and that’s marketing money can’t buy.

More

Brand Experience

Dropping the price or dropping the ball

Grenville Main September 2011

OK, so in New Zealand the Adidas brand seems to have taken a bit of a kicking for not addressing a raft of public sledging and much media handwringing over the domestic price of replica All Blacks jerseys' – compared the the price in other countries. Their key partner the NZRU also did not seemingly fare so well as they battled to contain the issue only weeks out from the start of the New Zealand hosting of the Rugby World Cup (RWC).

A few things spring to mind, namely that markets and prices are fair game where seasonal or event based demand makes a difference and that the loyalty of All Blacks fans is being severely tested, as is brand loyalty to Adidas – but the bigger picture for both parties may have been lost. As I see it, the NZRU, kiwi fans and Adidas all need to acknowledge market forces, and as the saying goes you live by them and you die by them.

Adidas found out how quickly an issue can gain momentum – when the furore over their pricing of the jerseys blew up the Adidas line of response was flawed, it was defensive, it was inconsistent. Add to that the lack of unison they showed with the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and the argument they needed to convey ‘together’ all got lost in the fray. It is an issue more about the cost and opportunity – it was an argument lost solely on price.

The debate should have covered:

More

Brand Experience

A word from our sponsors

Josh Burt September 2011

Corporate affiliations with sports teams to engender greater brand loyalty is nothing new. In the past they have been a proven strategy to not only to amplify brand perception through association, but get the formula right and commercially the rewards can be enormous. Just think of the global exposure and merchandise successful teams such as Manchester United push through as a fanatical fan base look to support their team with their voice and wallet.

So the notion of ‘sponsorship’ has never simply been an outreach of generous corporate support, there is always an expectation of a profitable return. Perceptually the equation is pretty simple – fans love their team, so will in turn love the sponsor brands that support them and we will all live happily ever after right? Well as Adidas and Telecom, two of the All Blacks principal sponsors recently found out, there is no right-of-passage to winning the hearts and minds of their fans through mere association alone.

More

Brand Experience

A tale of two parking buildings

Stephen Maskell June 2011

Well one parking building actually. But you couldn't blame me for thinking that they were different parking buildings based on two experiences this week.

The first experience was the introduction of a light that sits above each parking bay that simply lights up green when the spot is empty and red when a car is parked in it. Probably not new or revolutionary in some places but quite exciting in this part of the world. It is so rewarding knowing where there is a free space as soon as you drive up onto the floor. No nosing slowly from park to park in the hopes the next one is free. Brilliant experience.

The second experience was not so rewarding and came about when validating my ticket and having to interrupt the coffee break that was taking place in the attendants booth. After initially ignoring my presence – in favour of continuing his conversation with his mate – the attendant barely turned around in order to serve, said absolutely nothing in the form of a greeting or thank you and literally tossed my ticket back at me through the tiny glass chute. Not so flash experience.

This variable experience may not be limited to my neighborhood parking building – but more or less indicative of many brands. The challenge is to better manage of these peaks and troughs of customer experience so that great things you do are not undone by stupid things that can happen.

More