Christine Owens, SVP, communications and brand management at United Parcel Service, said she sees branding as science and art. "But branding is right brain, and my people tell me that all the time," she said. "You can't dissect it, but we all know a brand -- a good one -- when we see it." She describes UPS as a "breathing brand" with a soul.
In the 1990s, the company hit a bump in the road to global expansion. "We become a global logistics provider, said Owens. "Our brand identity had trouble catching up."
Furthermore, research showed people still thought of UPS as the old UPS: "An American small-package delivery company. Old-fashioned, reliable, trustworthy -- but not innovative and forward-looking," she said. "That's because we did not tell our story very well." In fact, UPS didn't run its first TV ads until 1984; it was founded in 1907. "We thought our trucks, employees and uniforms would provide all the competitive advantage we needed."
In 2003, the company deployed a major brand relaunch with a new logo and brand ID campaign to tout its recent expansion to global operations. "We took the bow off the package on our logo to symbolize that shipments are just as likely to be pallets and planeloads [as gifts] and used a shield as an international symbol of honor and strength," she said.
Owens noted that the rebranding touched everything from vehicles, signage and uniforms to packaging and positioning. "Today, we rank 15th on WPP's 100 most powerful brands, 31st on InterBrand's ranking of top brands, and number one on Forbes' most-admired list this year."
Later in the morning, Jodi Allen introduced herself with the news that she had had four kids in fewer than five years. "I would have had more, and my husband was like, 'Have you lost your mind?' She said between her sister and herself, there are 21 kids. "I tell you that because when I came to Pampers, I realized that the insight I think we need to be about at Pampers is that yes, being a parent is the most wonderful thing that can happen to you -- but it's the most challenging and demanding."
Allen, who is VP, North American Baby Care at Procter & Gamble, says Pampers has to sympathize with parents in marketing communications. "If we can be there in all the times, not just the good times, we'll be a brand they can trust." The company's "A parent is born" 12-part online video series is designed to increase engagement online and promote the idea that when a baby is born, two parents are born as well. The company worked with ZiZo/PGP to develop the four- and six-minute brand content, both syndicated and on the site.
The recent launch of Pampers Dry Max -- the brand's biggest campaign and most important launch in a quarter of a century and the first in the category with a pre-launch element -- was driven by the idea that the brand has to be where parents are, and it has to be entertaining and surprising. "Don't expect them to come to us," Allen advised. "Engage them where they are."
Pampers did things like Nike-esque prelaunch videos that made fun of athletic sponsorships and diaper comparison ads. The company did a Facebook sales event that sold out in 55 minutes.
Allen said soon it will increase online media buys for the biggest online campaign to date for the brand, and it is doing extensive consumer mailing programs, via P&G Tremor Group, which is driving word-of-mouth and sampling.
As for the diaper rash issue that has been making the rounds on social media, with buzz suggesting the diapers are causing rashes, Allen said that the company has worked with parenting magazines and did testing with mothers and babies. "[We've] got quite a lot of awards, so we are increasing awareness behind the awards we have won that this is mom-tested and mom-approved." Pampers is also doing communications with dermatologists and pediatricians about diaper rash and how Pampers as well as its competitors' products don't cause diaper rash.
The most entertaining presentation at the conference was by Dan Germain, head of creative for UK fruit drink brand Innocent Drinks. Germain said the 11-year-old brand is all about the moral imperative for brands to be interesting. "I don't have enough time for dull in my life," he said.
"Think about the time in your life, the time you spend each day considering a brand like Nike ... not much. How about your family? Most of it? Your friends? Stuff on TV? What I'm having for dinner? We spend our lives spending an incredible amount of money on ideas for brands, and what do they do? Ignore it."
He used moleskin notebooks as an example of good emotional brand character. "They are just a bloody notebook. But don't you feel a little cleverer than everyone else?" He said the Hemingway heritage is part of it. "It works on me, I'm a sucker. It's just a notebook, but somehow the act of holding it, touching it ... When you see someone else [with one], you think, 'Yeah, one smart chap.'"
Innocent Drinks is now majority-owned by Coca-Cola. Germain's ambition? "We'd like to be bigger than Coke," he said, half-joking.