PHOTO GRAPHIC BLOG

BRANDING

Phase One 645DF camera system

Zilele trecute au fost musafiri la studio. Reprezentantul portughez si directorul de vanzari pe Europa al firmei Phase One au folosit studioul pentru a prezenta fotografilor portughezi ultimul produs la firmei. Timp de vreo 10 ore s-au perindat o multime de fotografi dornici sa descopere si sa incerce aceasta bijuterie, sa testeze posibilitatile tehnice oferite si sa se minuneze de ce e capabila aceasta noua combinatie. Spun combinatie pentru ca este vorba de o colaborare de anvergura pentru realizarea acestei camere, un rezultat al imbinarii Phase One know-how cu designul Mamiya la care se adauga ultimul back digital de la Leaf si lentilele Schneider-Kreuznach. Ba mai mult, este vorba de prima camera foto tip platforma deschisa, putand fi folosite o multime de obiective si digital back, alaturi de cele de la Leaf sau Phase One putant fi folosit chiar si cele de la Hasselblad.

Bineinteles ca fiind o prezentare a ultimilor noutati de data asta s-au folosit back-uri IQ 180 de la Phase One, de 80 megapixeli full-frame. Va dati seama ca rezultatele au fost nemaipomenite, in plus minca fotografului este usurata enorm de ecranul tactil, de girueta digitala si de multele facilitati digitale oferite. In plus camera este destul de portabila pentru capacitatea ei, asa ca poate fi folosita si fara trepied. Bineinteles camera suporta full control cu ajutorul calculatorului, iar in cazul obiectivelor Schneider-Kreuznach permite o sincronizare cu sistemul de lumini pana la 1/1600s. Bineinteles ca multi si-au dorit aceasta solutie atat de atragatoare, dar pretul (care e pe masura rezultatelor oferite, adica in jur de 35.000 euro un kit de baza) i-a facut pe multi sa zambeasca amar. Inclusiv pe mine.

Un alt motiv de bucurie pentru mine a fost prezenta unui client de-al meu, firma de inchirieri aparatura foto profesionala Photographicas, una din cele mai mari firme de profil in Portugalia, pentru care m-am ocupat in intregime de branding si imagine. Bineinteles cum era si de asteptat, au venit si ei cu aparatura de ultima ora achizitionata de la Prophoto, inclusiv o superba umbrela cu un diametru de 210 cm care da o lumina perfecta pentru portrete, fashion, glamour, etc. Acestea fiind zise, nu imi ramane decat sa va las sa priviti fotografiile minunilor si sa visati la zile mai bune!


Un interviu de acum cativa ani…

Mi-am adus aminte de un interviu pe care l-am dat acum cativa ani pentru revista Capital. Intre timp am gasit si raspunsurile mele la intrebarile reporterului, din care au fost selectionate cateva idei potrivite pentru articol. Redau mai jos raspunsurile mele cu mentiunea ca multe s-au schimbat intre timp (extrem de multe, as putea spune!).

De ce ai ales sa fii freelancer? Este acesta un pas spre propria agentie de publicitate?

As incepe prin a spune ca, dupa parerea mea, exista doua categorii de freelanceri, una este formata din tineri absolventi care neavind inca un loc de munca incearca sa isi inceapa activitatea pe cont propriu si o a doua categorie: a celor care au ceva experienta, au capatat o oarecare notorietate in domeniu (lucru absolut necesar in atragerea clientilor) si au ajuns la concluzia ca pot lucra pe cont propriu. Eu as spune ca freelancing-ul este urmatorul pas pe care il faci de la propria agentie de publicitate, asa cum este cazul meu.

Am fost asociat la trei agentii de publicitate,  una am vindut-o unei alte mari agentii si am ajuns la concluzia ca pot cistiga cel putin tot atit de mult pe cont propriu, lucrind cu clienti care imi apreciaza munca la adevarata valoare.

Asadar, alegerea statului de freelancer, are mai multe motivatii: nevoia de independenta, lipsa subordonarii, problemele inerente care se ivesc in cadrul unei asocieri, lipsa responsabilitatii fata de angajati, flexibilitatea totala a programului de lucru, (chiar daca lucrez in medie 14 ore pe zi, ajungind in perioadele de virf pina la 20 de ore, o fac cu placere), cine nu ar vrea sa lucreze, inarmat cu un laptop conectat la internet si un telefon mobil, o luna de zile … de pe plaja?

 Care sunt atributiile tale ca freelancer?

Atributii?…suna deja ca si cum as fi angajat….atributiile ti le traseaza/atribuie cineva… pot spune ca am aceeasi activitate ca a unei agentii cu maximum 10 angajati, de la partea de client service, relatii cu clientii, propuneri de campanii si executie creativa, respectiv grafica si copywriting, pina la fazele de productie si achizitie media. La asta ma ajuta si faptul ca am lucrat peste 15 ani in mass media si publicitate, acoperind, de-alungul timpului cam toate departamentele agentiei si faptul ca am pastrat legaturile cu firmele de productie publicitara si agentiile media.

Care sunt avantajele si dezavantajele de a fi freelancer?Dar riscurile?

Avantajele sunt clare, asa cum spuneam: libertate de actiune, independenta profesionala, creativitate neingradita. In plus ai oricind posibilitatea sa iti pui in practica visele… de citeva luni am inceput sa ofer clientilor mei si servicii de productie video iar in curind imi voi deschide un studio foto. Cit despre riscuri… ca in orice domeniu riscul este acelasi: sa o dai in bara, dar asta depinde numai de tine.

Exista la noi tendinta de a ne vaita tot timpul, de a ne plange de situatia economica, de calitatea clientilor si a prestatorilor de servicii, de bugetele insuficiente si de constrangerile impuse de clienti… e clar ca o persoana de genul acesta nu ar reusi niciodata ca freelancer.

Cu ce bugete lucrezi? Care sunt cele mai mari bugete pe care poti sa le coordonezi?

Bugetele cu care lucrez sunt mici si medii, cel mai mare buget a fost de aproximativ 400.000 euro iar media se situeaza undeva la 10.000 de euro, avind in vedere ca serviciile pe care le ofer sunt in mare parte servicii de creatie, productia si achizitia de media fiind domeniile cu pondere mare in alocarea unui buget.

Cit despre bugetul maxim… probabil ca daca mi s-ar oferi un buget de peste 1 milion de euro as mai angaja doua-trei persoane… depinde cit de rentabil ar fi in cele din urma. Spun asta pentru ca, de obicei, comisioanele pentru astfel de servicii sunt foarte mici, si probabil ca un astfel de client m-ar forta sa mai gasesc si alti clienti pentru a rentabiliza activitatea unei echipe.

Cu ce clienti ai lucrat ? Ce proiecte ai realizat?

De-a lungul timpului am lucrat atit cu agentii de publicitate sau firme de productie, pentru care am oferit servicii de creatie, dar si cu clienti directi, din cele mai diverse domenii de activitate, de la case de discuri la firme de IT si producatori de software, de la comercianti de bunuri de larg consum la firme de consultanta si birouri de avocatura.

Clientii in general sunt companii care au sediul in Romania, dar in prezent lucrez si pentru clienti din Statele Unite, Canada, Portugalia, dealtfel incerc sa imi indrept cit mai mult eforturile in afara tarii, acolo creatia este apreciata cu adevarat si plata pe masura.

Avind in vedere ca nu imi place sa corectez sau sa completez imaginea construita de altii, aleg in general companii noi, cu un management tanar si modern, care au nevoie de toate elementele de brand de la A la Z, de la logo si carti de vizita, pina la productie multimedia, audio-video si tipar. Asa simt eu ca imi pot pune la lucru cel mai bine creativitatea si ma si simt multumit de rezultate in final.

Se castiga mai bine ca freelancer decat ca angajat intr-o agentie ?

 Sa zicem ca venitul lunar ca angajat, la nivelul meu, poate fi in jur de 2.000 euro, proprietar sau asociat la o mica agentie cam de 5.000 de euro iar ca freelancer ar fi cel putin tot atit… dar nu ai nici o alta obligatie, nu?

Cum iti gasesti clientii sau cum te gasesc clientii pe tine?

Niciodata , in cei 5 ani, de cind lucrez ca freelancer nu am abordat un client, asa cum obisnuiam in agentie. In proportie de 90% clientii vin pe baza de referinte si recomandari, restul vizitind site-ul meu de web.

Care este ponderea proiectelor venite dinspre agentii fata de cele venite direct de la client?

Avind in vedere ca ofer servicii de creatie complete, ponderea majora vine din partea clientilor directi, creatia in Romania nu este apreciata la justa valoare, in clipa in care un freelancer cere intre 3.000 si 7.000 de euro pentru o lucrare complexa (de exemplu identitatea unei companii) agentia, chiar daca cere clietului cu mult peste aceasta suma pentru acelasi volum de munca,  isi face socoteala ca ar fi mai simplu sa angajeze doua persoane, care in acest timp mai fac si altceva. De aceea clientii directi prefera sa lucreze cu un freelancer iar agentiile mult mai rar.

Ce forma de organizare jurdica ai? (pfa, IMM)

Firma mea, este o firma cu raspundere limitata al carei singur actionar si angajat sunt eu.


Branding Small & Medium Size Enterprises through Advertising

dan st. andrei

E luni, inceput de saptamana si pentru ca unii dintre voi sunteti deja la birou cu forte proaspete, m-am gandit ca nu ar fi rau sa prezint aici un articol care mi-a fost publicat in ultimul numar al reviste CHEMISTRY TODAY, unua din cele mai prestigoase publicatii de gen. Este vorba de importanta branding-ului si este bazat pe un cae study asupra unui client de-al meu.  In plus, blogul cred ca ma reprezinta din toate punctele de vedere, iar marketing-ul si publicitatea au reprezentat,  pana de curand, cele mai importante lucruri din activitatea mea. Acum insa, ma preocupa doar  fotografia si pictura si imi dedic timpul in exclusivitate pasiunilor mele. In masura in care subiectul prezentat va starneste interesul, as fi curios sa cunosc opiniile voastre. Pentru cei carora prea multe date li se par plictisitoare, voi publica ceva special mai pe seara. Intre timp, trag o fuga pe plaja…

 dan st. andrei

Branding Small & Medium Size Enterprises through Advertising

A Case Study for the Fine Chemical Industry

by Dan St. Andrei, Creative Corporation, Lisbon, Portugal

Synopsis: Yesterday branding was a prerogative of large chemical companies. Today small and medium size companies MUST include branding in their activities or risk being wiped out by the globalization tsunami. This article provides an insight in the relationship between positioning, branding and advertising for SME’s.

Introduction

The globalization has changed the rules of engagement in the B2B markets and yet few executives involved in the chemical industry seem to acknowledge this. Countless small and medium size enterprises continue to focus their resources on developing better technologies and purer products, increasing manufacturing capacities or enhancing their regulatory and analytical capabilities. Little, if any attention is being paid however to the processes happening at the interface with the customers.

For a marketing agency this does not come as a surprise. The “manufacturing” culture has its roots in the post-war, blue collar era when the product was everything. Very few companies had the technology and the workforce to innovate and manufacture a winning product or service. THE PRODUCT was the key to commercial success in a world of national competition and booming demand.

This situation has since changed radically: at the latest CPhI-Paris 2010 edition. e.g., there were approximately 1900 companies offering their products and services to a market where the top ten pharmaceutical companies concentrate roughly 75% of the total global demand.  In the post-industrial era many have the product or the service and clearly the offer is overwhelming the demand.

The question becomes how can a SME’s stand out in the global cacophony of names and logos vying for buyers attention?

B2BMarketing: back to the future

A great cue on how to achieve awareness and acceptance in cluttered markets is offered by the history of the B2C[v] marketing. The consumers were confronted with an overwhelming offer a long time ago. This was when consumer companies learned that sales and profitability are not determined by the product itself but also by the marketing behind the product.

In particular, branding emerged as the main antidote against the lack of product differentiation. In their fight for the consumers’ mind share companies branded pretty much anything from big ticket items (Mercedes and Frigidaire) to services (Hilton and Hertz) and to beverages (Pepsi and Gatorade) and even  to plain water (Evian and Perrier). Brands command higher prices as they fulfill consistently a certain expectation in terms of functional and emotional attributes.

A similar paradigm shift is now afoot in the B2B markets as companies are facing a similar situation. With the advent of globalization the company’s message has to break through the hubbub of an increasingly complex market place. Beyond the numerical and geographical expansion of the competition, a flurry of international and transnational acquisitions, mergers and divestitures around the world only added to the confusion. Established names in the chemical industry disappear, morph or shatter continuously in a constellation of new names and complex ownership structures.

In this context, the power of the brand remains the prerogative of large organizations such as BASF, DuPont, Degussa, Dow, Bayer, DSM or Lonza. Moreover, most of the newer brands emerged as a result of the M&A activities of branded companies, e.g. Evonik from Degussa, Lanxess  and Saltigo from Bayer, etc.

It seems that the value of the brand is understood only by the market leaders who know how to build their brand architecture and use it to boost profitability. As a matter of fact, people realize that the brand has a dollar value just like any other physical or financial asset sitting on the balance sheet: e.g. the 3M brand value was 3.1 BN $ in 2010 and was ranking # 90 on the Interbrand Best 100 Global Brands list. When brands lose their luster so does the shareholder value! Merck’s brand was valued at 9.1 BN in 2001 but was worth less than 3 BN dollars in 2010 after the Vioxx debacle.

In spite of this palpable dollar value attached to the brand, SME’s executives continue to miss the connection between brands, profits, growth and company valuation. They fail to acknowledge that the physical product made by the plant is actually translated by marketing activities in palpable financial assets.

This article provides the proof of principle that small investments in branding activities can work just as well in a SME environment and lead to market leadership and increased profitability.

Branding Penn: a business case

In 2005, Penn Specialty Chemicals Inc. (a US based SME specializing in furan derivatives) approached our agency to develop the concept for their advertising campaign. This advertising campaign coincided with the rebranding of the company from a leader in furan derivatives to a leader in the emerging markets of green chemicals.

One of the major elements of any brand is creating the brand story. Penn’s long tradition in producing solvents from corn cobs and sugar cane bagasse could be traced back to WWII efforts to diversify chemicals away from petrochemicals. Penn’s history provided therefore a unique backdrop for its brand repositioning on the green dimension as it was truly a pioneer in chemicals from renewable resources.

As the Kyoto protocol entered into force on February 16 2005, Penn expected that it would usher in an era of a low carbon economy. Penn’s solvents were uniquely positioned to capitalize on their bio-origin in corn cobs and sugar cane.

In this strategic context Penn had to reinvent its commercial persona and capture the strategic position of leader in the green solvent markets.

Penn started by abandoning its old logo, (a black and white contour of William Penn) that spoke mainly to the origin of the company in the Philadelphia area and Quaker Oats Chemicals. These powerful symbols in the North American culture meant little to its global customer base. It also spoke nothing about the green offering of the company.

Penn’s new logo was a pentagon colored in shades of green and blue, a hybrid symbol of the five member furan ring and a reminder of the green fields, blue skies and rain water, the three natural forces behind Penn’s production of furfural (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Penn’s new logo expresses the shift to a green economy with a global reach (2005)

The heraldic change was further reinforced by the modification of the tag line from a strong positioning on the technical dimension (The furan chemistry specialists) to a strong positioning on the green dimension (Chemicals from renewable resources).

Penn had limited marketing resources so they could not invest in building first this umbrella brand. They chose to invest simultaneously in the marketing of a product with high market potential. It was hoped that the successful marketing of the green solvent would eventually spill over to establish Penn as the innovative global leader in green solvents.  The chosen solvent, 2-MeTHF, was an excellent opportunity to substitute tetrahydrofuran (THF) with a quarter billion dollars market.

Penn’s market research showed however that by late 2005 the world was not prepared to pay a premium on green. The concern for MeTHF high price overpowered the environmental benefits of the solvent. We developed therefore an advertising concept emphasizing the overall cost reduction opportunities offered by MeTHF due to its superior product attributes. Nevertheless we did provide the “green” overtone to the ad concept through the presence of the new logo and tagline. Moreover, color coordination with the logo added to the “green” overtone of the ad and established an early claim on sustainability (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Early stage advertising for 2-MeTHF emphasizes cost savings first (2005)

Subsequent market research by Penn showed that the sustainability aspects got increasing traction as the Kyoto protocol was sipping through national legislations and corporate values around the world. The advertising changed in 2006 to accentuate the green aspects first. Secondary overtones in cost savings were still present as cost remained a high concern (Figure 3).

Figure 3: 2-MeTHF advertises greenness as Kyoto protocol gains market traction (2006)

Finally, market research conducted by Penn at the end of 2006 showed that market perceptions shifted even further. By now, focus groups represented by purchasers, R&D and regulatory professionals saw the low carbon economy as the way to the future. Several pharma companies clearly captured this in their annual reports.

In response to the shift in demand we repositioned the product as a true agent of change. The juxtaposition of MeTHF with Penn’s logo ensured that the green future is associated with the umbrella brand of the company (Figure 4).

Figure 4 Contrast between old and new; Penn becomes a leader in sustainability (2007)

MeTHF was nominated for the CPhI Innovation Award in Paris in 2006 and for the Presidential Green Chemistry Award in Wahsington DC in 2007. At that point Penn’s name was firmly established as a leader in green solvents.

Conclusions

Managing demand is critical in a globalized world. Marketing is the dedicated function that manages the long term demand. Most chemical SME’s however focus only on sales which is short term focused. Chemical SME’s should learn from their industry leaders and make better use of marketing activities such as branding and advertising.

GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable recently reported that MeTHF is the fastest growing solvent used by the pharmaceutical industry. Penn’s positioning and branding shows that SME’s can become global niche leaders by investing in marketing activities.


[i] Small and medium size enterprises are called SME in the business literature. We will use this term henceforth.

[ii] B.Comanita, Chemistry Today, 29(1), pp.4, 2011

[iii] CPhI is the largest trade show targeted to the pharmaceutical industry

[iv] B2B business to business market refers to transactional processes taking place between two organizations

[v] B2C refers to business to consumer markets; the company sells to individuals, not to other companies

[vii] Many activities lead to successful branding: market research, R&D, under the line activities such as sponsorships, memberships, publications and internet presence can provide the right marketing communication mix

[viii] Penn Specialty Chemicals Inc. is not operational today; its assets were acquired by the group Minafin in 2008.

[x] See American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Roundtable, pp. 16; http://portal.acs.org/portal/PublicWebSite/greenchemistry/industriainnovation/roundtable/CNBP_023786