Josep Maria Miret
Josep M. Miret (Barcelona, 1961, married, two children) started his career as a sports reporter. He studied Information Sciences at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and then took the Programme for Leadership Development at IESE Business School in Barcelona. After working for El Correo Catalán, TVE-Catalunya and Catalunya Ràdio, he was recruited by RACC in 1989 as chief editor of the magazine. The appeal of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya project was also a significant factor and he was the race track’s press officer for several seasons, as well as press officer for RACC. Today, he is the RACC’s Communication, Image and Advertising Manager.
RACC is an industry leader with its driving school service. How do you defend its position in a mature, increasingly price-sensitive market?
Price is important but it is not the only factor. The price must be competitive, but there are other factors that are also important, such as proximity, the ease with which the student can manage his or her driving theory or practice classes or the quality of the tuition, which includes road safety concepts such as courses at the safe driving schools in Barcelona (Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya) and Madrid (Moraleja de Enmedio).
¿What are the challenges and opportunities facing RACC’s driving school service brand in the medium term?
Connect better with young people and move forward in the online environment, where we are experiencing strong growth.
And what are the advantages of using a vehicle fleet as a brand communication medium?
In this highly digital age, we must take every opportunity we have to communicate and be present in the physical environment, and this is what a vehicle fleet can give us.
In our particular case, the fleet not only provides outdoor presence (as a goods distribution fleet would do) but it also provides ‘product placement’! Our tuition cars are real, there are lots of them and they’re out there. So we want the cars to be an example of what our driving schools are.
What communication strategy do you implement for the fleet?
The driving school service needed very particular visibility. It had to convey a distinctive image—modern, young, credible—and it also had to align with RACC’s image and values. This was the challenge. Normally, companies focus on endorsement and graphic design when they want to connect with a specific target, particularly when the target is young people: a well-known name, fresh colours and photos of young people… and they think that this will be enough to do the job… but it doesn’t happen like that.
We decided to approach the driving schools, not as a design challenge, but as a branding challenge. That’s why we went to SUMMA. They had the vision to delve into the RACC’s values and find those on which a more youthful version of the image could be built. They suggested that we leverage the Club’s motor sports sponsorship, enabling us to capitalize on all of RACC’s quality values, and the yellow colour, to create a unique image for the driving schools.
What are the expression possibilities offered by the sports theme and the use of young racers for communication on the various media?
It has become commonplace to use the image of sportspeople in modern communication strategies. Sportspeople are major icons; they give visibility and personalize the brand. But their real connection with the brand is a complex issue.
SUMMA suggested we use the values and aesthetics of motor sports and illustrate them with the image of a motorcycle racer, leveraging our talent development activities, which have given us Marc Márquez, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Aleix and Pol Espargaró, among others.
We chose Álex Rins, a Moto3 racer, because he is very successful and also because he was planning to take his driving test with a RACC driving school. We chose authenticity and credibility.
¿Will the strategy defined for RACC driving schools have any continuity in other actions or projects?
In this project, we started off by talking about car signage and ended up having a new global image for the driving school service, which will soon be rolled out in the offices, too. We have also extended the branding analysis to RACC’s young member segment.
How do you rate SUMMA’s contribution to the project?
They identified the conceptual key and came up with a brilliant graphic image. I believe that these are their two strengths: an excellent conceptual analysis of the brand coupled with a modern-looking, attractive graphic representation. They’re very flexible, too.
By the mere fact of existing and doing business, a company possesses a large quantity of media. They are what we call ‘business-driven brand assets’. Under the heading of business assets, we include buildings, vehicle fleets, uniforms and other corporate elements because of what they contribute to the brand’s visibility. Reproducing the logo in all of them, leveraging the medium’s functional features and expressing it in an aligned manner with the rest, this is all a necessary condition, but it is not enough.
Each point of contact that the company has with its customers is to be seen as an opportunity to build meaning and relevance to the brand
Furthermore, all companies use communication media to a greater or lesser extent to explain their value proposition to the market, sell their products and influence their stakeholders. These are what we call ‘communication-driven brand assets’ and consist of the website, advertisements, all manner of promotional initiatives, public relations, sponsorship or actions on social media, for example. As a general rule, they are managed with an excessively narrow, short-term focus on the product and are often diverging, depending on the type of communication and partner involved.
One of the major challenges in branding is to manage these assets to enhance identification and positioning
The model we describe in this issue of Allbrand provides a simple guideline for evaluating and managing brand-driven media, analysing four possible viewpoints: identification or contribution to building the positioning and business and communication assets.
The model’s left quadrant refers to correct identification and consistency among all the business and communication media, while the right quadrant expresses the model’s ability to not only contribute visibility but also relevance to the brand, helping to build its positioning.
As the subject of this issue of Allbrand is how assets are managed from both sides, we will work with this model and illustrate it with a number of relevant cases.
Identification refers to correct reproduction and visibility of the brand on all media. Consistency means that all the details, be they large or small, are articulated coherently and aligned with the brand’s value proposition. This first point seeks to maintain consistency between all that the brand expresses, across the diversity of realities existing in a company as well as over time.
In most cases, this consistency has been achieved more often in communication assets than in business assets, although, as time passes, this gap is fortunately becoming narrower. Nestlé’s red chocolate box, UPS’ vehicle fleet and delivery staff or the colour code used on all of Prosegur’s media are some examples of this.
Some fashion brands have been using their own media for decades with this philosophy: Burberry’s tartan check patterns, Adidas’ distinctive stripes or Christian Louboutin’s red soles for its shoes are examples of identification resources developed more creatively or with greater prägnanz than the mere application of the logo, and are therefore more effective and visible. In the case of Louboutin, the red soles date back to 1992, when the designer saw his secretary painting her nails with Chanel nail varnish and the scarlet colour became his signature. In all three cases, the distinctive visual code operates as a high-value identifying element. So it is not surprising that these assets have been fiercely defended, suing any competitor that has tried to imitate them for trademark infringement and unfair competition.
Consistency means that all the details, be they large or small, are articulated coherently, transmitting a message that transcends correct implementation of the corporate identity manual
Even in digital environments, a growing number of companies aspire to leverage their identification systems, such as their own pictographs and icon codes. The Nokia Lumia icon system is a paradigmatic case, although it is not the only one.
Given the saturation of messages and the need to ensure a return on their investments, a growing number of companies are seeking to implement brand-driven communication and business media that contribute actively to building their positioning. When the stories and values associated with the brand are present in the elements that make up its universe of expression, the impact on positioning is much more powerful.
Absolut has gathered an international creative team around its iconic bottles
Ever since Andy Warhol created artwork for one of its bottles in 1985, Absolut has gathered an international creative team around its iconic 700-ml and 1000-ml bottles and its legendary communication media. Absolut is a brand that has devoted many years of work to identification with the goal of gradually—and successfully—building positioning.
A considerable range of media can be activated for positioning: Roca, the leading sanitaryware brand, uses physical spaces rather than advertising campaigns to display its brand focus to thousands of users and prospective buyers around the world. Roca’s Gallery concept, the first of which was opened in 2009 in Barcelona, is a network of spaces with a social, cultural and display proposal that goes beyond the product itself. The architecture of the Repsol service stations, designed by Norman Foster, transcends application of the logo and seeks to become a landmark on the road that identifies Repsol service stations and their aspiration to market leadership. Another example is the intention with which the microchip manufacturer Intel—recognised with its ‘Intel Inside’ claim—has sponsored the inside of the FC Barcelona first-team shirt. This intention reinforces the idea that it is the inside that matters (this technology company’s business and communication attribute).
A considerable range of media can be activated for positioning
A few months ago, Ikea published a recipe book consisting solely of photographs of the ingredients required, without any words or instructions. This code, very close to that of its legendary assembly instructions, is drawn from and enhanced by its ‘do-it-yourself’ concept.
Driving schools operate in a highly mature industry. According to data provided by the Directorate-General for Traffic, there are about 8,500 driving schools in Spain, competing with a largely undifferentiated and, therefore, increasingly price-sensitive service. Some driving schools have started using Internet for customer communication and interaction processes, in an effort to increase their presence among young people, the main population segment targeted by their services.
Faced with this scenario, RACC, Spain’s largest automobile club, with more than a million members, and market leader in the driving school segment, with 121 centres and 15,000 drivers taught in 2012, decided to modernise this business line’s visual identity and expression. SUMMA Branding proposed a new branding strategy for RACC’s driving schools, with the goal of enhancing their appeal for their primary target (young people aged 14 to 25 who want to upgrade from mopeds to motorcycles) while staying true to RACC’s essence and core values.
The strategy proposed by SUMMA consists of capitalising on one of RACC’s key strengths, which also has considerable appeal for young people: its passion for competition and motor sports.
RACC has been closely associated with motor sports from its early days. For example, it is the first club in the world to have organised races in three official categories: Formula 1, MotoGP and Rallies. Sports competition is inspired by values such as the will to excel, hard work, perseverance, teamwork and dedication to a higher goal. Together with safety, professionalism and public-spiritedness, these values are perfectly embodied by RACC.
The creative strategy consists of enhancing RACC driving schools’ brand assets, such as the talented young racers that RACC has supported and the fleet of tuition vehicles used by the 121 driving schools distributed throughout Spain.
The visual system, based on a white and yellow chequer reminiscent of the racing flags, provides a strong personality and impact, with connotations of modernity, energy and connection with the motor racing world. The system is also applied to all manner of corporate media, communication media and social media.
‘Be like Álex Rins, pass your driving test with RACC’
Álex Rins, one of the promising young newcomers in motorcycle racing, embodies the RACC driving schools’ service proposition. His profile aligns perfectly with the sports values mentioned above. At the same time, Rins, who passed his driving test with RACC, communicates the benefits of signing up with RACC: online theory lessons and test, 24-hour instructor, safe driving course and free RACC membership during the first year with eligibility for the club’s roadside assistance, travel or home services.
In addition to helping them pass their driving test, RACC offers courses for young people in safe driving, efficient driving and sports driving.
Escrito por: Conrad Llorens
There are media that companies own simply because they exist and do business (their products and facilities, sometimes shops, or vehicles, and so on). On the other hand, there are the resources generated by the company in its communication on its own or third-party online and offline media (the website, advertising, promotions or public relations, events on social media, etc.).
Traditionally, these assets have been managed separately, often without a brand vision.
Buildings, the vehicle fleet, uniforms and other corporate elements are viewed as expressions of ownership and managed as applications of the logo. Such management, at the very most, is confined to correctly applying the specifications given in the corporate identity manual.
On the other hand, the communication resources, which are usually the responsibility of the marketing department, are usually managed with an excessively narrow, short-term focus on the product, and often show inconsistency, depending on the type of communication and the partner involved.
The past 29 November and on the occasion of the launch of the No. 23, dedicated to Place Branding Allbrand, held the meeting in which some key success factors is discussed building brands focused on places, spaces and territories, both commercial, cultural and leisure activities.
The round table composed of managers from different companies and components of the SUMMA, served to share knowledge and experiences around this concept and deepened on trends in territorial brands around the world.
Marc Calvet, Major Consul of the Comú Escaldes-Engordany and keynote speaker of the debate, who explained the process of creating the brand mark Vivand
María Baró, head of communication of the Comú Escaldes-Engordany
Javier Cottet, President of Barna Centre
Lluís Sans, President of the Associació d’Amics del Passeig de Gràcia
Michael Goldenberg, Corporate Director of the La Roca Village
Jordi Moix, Member of the Board of Directors and responsible for the Area heritage of FC Barcelona
Josep Mª Carreté, Manager and Deputy Director of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Jordi Obradors, Manager of the Sabadell Commerce Centre
Josep Mª Mir, Creative Director of SUMMA
Jordi Mateu, Managing Director of SUMMA
Conrad Llorens, CEO of SUMMA
Josep Maria Mir was appointed jury member by the General Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation for this year’s National Design Awards awarded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.
The jury held its deliberations to choose the award winners last 23 April at the Secretariat of State for Research, Development and Innovation.