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What the most valuable brands in Cannes have in common

IBM, Intel and Coca-Cola.  Three brands that won Grand Prix and Special Awards at Cannes Lions last week, that also appear in all of the world’s most valuable brand rankings.  What can we learn from this juxtaposition of creativity and value?

Stay simple and stay the course.

You can associate all of these brands with one word that defines what they stand for.
Coke: Happiness.  IBM: Smarter.  Intel: Inside.

While all three expand on these notions when they articulate the core of what they stand for (Coke’s purpose is ‘to inspire moments of optimism and happiness’, IBM are ‘driven by the idea of building a smarter planet’, Intel invite us to ‘Look Inside’), they consistently, relentlessly, creatively, use the ideas and literal words of ‘happiness’, ‘smarter’ and ‘inside’ in their marketing efforts, as exemplified in IBM’s Grand Prix-winning ‘Ads with a purpose’.

(Even their advertising is smarter, and asks for smarter ideas to help to build smarter cities).

What they also do is stay the course.  They have built brands from these simple core ideas for years.  IBM established the Smarter Planet initiative in 2008.  Coke have talked about happiness for decades, and explicitly unveiled their ‘Open Happiness’ global campaign in 2009.  The ‘Intel Inside’ cooperative marketing program (and associated branding) launched in 1991.  Their multiple Grand Prix Cannes Lions wins for ‘The Beauty Inside’ last week celebrated the ideal that – with humans and computers alike – it’s what’s inside that counts.

Although Intel wavered in 2009 (they rebranded around the idea of Sponsors of Tomorrow (which was geared to last for three to five years and serve as an overarching theme for all of the company’s branding efforts)), they (re)launched a new brand ‘theme’ of ‘Look Inside’ this year.  As Deborah Conrad, vice president and chief marketing officer at Intel stated,“ ‘Sponsors of tomorrow’ didn’t leverage our heritage as much as ‘Look inside’ does. ‘Look inside’ is a call to action, and ‘Intel inside’ says, ‘Hey, here I am.’ ”.

Whilst it’s very difficult to ‘own’ a simple idea, there’s money (and possible glory) in trying to do so.  A spate of one word rebrands in 2012 suggests that other brands aspire to a similar goal.  Pepsi: Now; Jaguar: Alive; BMW: Joy: Mahindra Group: Rise; Commbank: Can…It will be interesting to see whether they can stay the course, and climb the value rankings.

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