The ICSC Blog

May 21, 2014

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Why brand storytelling needs to evolve for the mobile age

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By: Rodrigo Lopez, Chief Creative Officer, Neoscape

The chief marketing officer of a Fortune 500 company was pleased with the company’s re-brand. There was a new logo, font and tagline, a new website and, of course, a new story about their “new and improved product.” It all looked great on the storyboards in the conference room. It even looked good on the desktop computer screens. And, yes it looked great on billboards and TV ads.

But something was missing. Most of their target consumers, those between 18 and 34, were eschewing television and print media, instead relying on their smart phones and tablets for, well, everything. The CMO knew this, of course, but assumed what many do: that mobile marketing simply meant ensuring the company’s website had responsive design so that the same content can be viewed on a hand-held device. She also knew that iBeacon or other forms of geo-location would help in the targeting of ads based on a user’s GPS tracking. But beyond that, she considered mobile just another platform to tell the same story. That was a miss.

Storytelling fundamentals – whether for books, movies or branding — have not changed; the goal is still to engage the audience and make them care about what you are saying. But technology is enabling businesses to engage with consumers in new ways, so much so that by not considering different forms of storytelling for handheld devices, you’re leaving engagement on the table.

So here are some principles for storytelling in the mobile age, ones that any CMO could easily implement.
1. Pare it down. Every story starts with strong branding, naming, messaging and visuals, but when viewed on the smallest screen, these elements need to be simplified so as to be more clearly understood. This might mean ensuring that photos of a place or product are crisp and uncluttered even if extravagance or luxury is part of the story.
2. Make it bite-sized. Because people using a mobile device typically are on the go and pressed for time, give them lots of content options but make it all more digestible in small time increments. Don’t assume they want to navigate a traditional website with multiple pages. Create layered storylines to tease them. Make them want to come back for more. Or better yet, have them ask for it, like signing up for a 30-second film series. Aim to have them opt-in for more information.
3. Go nonlinear. Lose the typical chronological flow of a storytelling arc. A non-linear approach can add a sense of intrigue, inviting the viewer to embark on their own adventure, making the experience more interactive and exploratory. When not done well, however, this technique can create confusion. So be sure to do it right and test it.

4. Require interactivity. Offer ways for the audience to become part of the story, such as a treasure hunt using GPS, real time feedback via social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and inviting others to participate in the program.
And before we say that this is the end of the story, we felt it was important to mention that the CMO at the top was fiction. But as the Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing once said: “There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth.”

May 20, 2014

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What you missed on Twitter; Day 2 at #RECon14

By Jesse Tron (@JesseTronPR)

A bit self-serving, but, yea 33K+ in attendance …a post-recession high!

Here’s another impressive number…

No, thank you for the support these past 20 years!

Is anyone else hungry all of a sudden?

you’re not helping…

someone didn’t read our survival guide

what is this? A center for ants?

and now they all know your name…

well said

more traffic than the 405

May 19, 2014

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Beyond Your Backyard, The Global Retail Landscapes Opportunities

The way retailers use real estate around the globe is fundamentally changing in response to shifts in consumer preferences, spending patterns and robust growth in e-commerce. International retailers are focused on acquiring high-quality retail space in markets with healthy market fundamentals. London, New York, Miami, Houston, San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Shanghai continue to attract top retailers and are outperforming their regional peers. Yet, these markets aren’t the only pockets of opportunity.

May 19, 2014

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3 Ways to brand a luxury building

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By: Rodrigo Lopez, Chief Creative Officer, Neoscape

Luxury is an overused marketing term, especially when it comes to real estate. Is there any property today that does not have luxury finishes or offer a luxury brand or luxury shopping experience as its core message? What makes luxury, luxury?

When the market is saturated with the term, how does a marketer ensure that the concept is conveyed in a way that truly resonates with a potential buyer or user?

Here’s what luxury means to us and how we use visual narratives to brand a building as “luxury.”

  1. Multi-sensory and multi-dimensional: Luxury should not be a “one dimensional” concept.  It’s multi-sensory tactile and precise, with sensuality that evokes an emotion. Can you feel the weight of the brochure, are there different textures to show different materials used throughout the building?
  2. Keep it sophisticated, yet simple: Do not try too hard. Luxury is already an exclusive category so the image or film should create an emotion of longing. It should show just enough detail to know you want it, but also allow the imagination to show your specific future in the building or space. For example, in this Mansion on Madison film, it starts by showing the intricate details of the exterior stone building and moves into an elegant courtyard. Once inside, the neutral colors, simple mannequins and minimalism throughout the room show the possibilities of the space.
  3. Mobile experience: Do the materials require another medium to view the marketing assets? Is there an iPad app that explains an elaborate retail experience while reinforcing the subtle nuances that define high-end real estate? An iPad app takes you through the smallest details from viewing different angles of the space, to taking a virtual tour.

Luxury is about the collection, mood and atmosphere. It needs to appear effortless while the level of sophistication behind the messaging cannot be rivaled. To quote one of the world’s most famous designers, Coco Chanel, “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”

May 19, 2014

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Ready, Set…RECon

By Jesse Tron (@JesseTronPR)

#RECon14 What you missed, Day 1

Sunday was an action packed first day at the largest gathering of retail real estate professionals in the world. An expected 33,000 attendees packed the show floors which opened at noon Pacific Time (I’ll use Pacific since “Vegas time” has slightly different connotations). So if you were out at RECon with us, hopefully you caught some of this, but if not, here’s a rundown from Day 1.

RECon 2014 spans more than 1 million square feet of show space – that equals a lot of walking, and a lot of sore feet. So hopefully you are getting credit for those long treks between the South and North Hall with the ICSC Coca-Cola #MyStepsCount app which launched in the wee hours of Sunday morning. The app counts all those steps you are taking throughout the show and lets you compete with colleagues and friends – or hopefully friends who are colleagues – to compare your progress. Need more incentive? We are giving away some pretty cool prizes: RECon Poster_ol

Think the #iTech lounge was soooo 2013…yea so did we. So this year we partnered with Coca-Cola to bring the #HappinessLounge to RECon. Hopefully you stopped by already, but if not, be sure to head over to 19th and K Street in the Central Hall for a crash course on digital or mobile technology, one of our Tech Talks, or a “happiness break.”  I had the pleasure of interviewing Daphne Carmeli, CEO, of Deliv (@Deliv) earlier today where we discussed how the same day delivery service is helping malls create a better and more streamlined instant fulfillment option.Deliv

I caught up with Mark Cuban, who was here to support his new initiative Motionloft (@motionloft) – a pedestrian and vehicle counter for properties. They aim to give real estate an easy to use dashboard to drive better decisions …oh yea, and it’s in real time. Its analytics how you want them, when you want them.markcuban

Shopping Centers Today had a chance to interview Congressman Steve Womack regarding @efairness before his panel here at RECon 2014. You can help; ask Congress to level the playing field. Adam Ifshin, CEO of DLC Management and ICSC Trustee, met with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to discuss issues impacting the shopping center industry.


The day concluded with our opening Keynote speaker Biz Stone, Co-Founder of Twitter.


Here are some #BizThoughts

On Twitter…“Twitter is not a triumph of technology; it’s a triumph of humanity.”

On success… “Without emotional investment in your work, success is not guaranteed but failure is.”

On deal-making… “The only deal worth doing is a win-win one.”

On the U.S. not producing anything… “We have an incredible renewable resource that no one seems to talk about…creativity.”

On how retail can successfully use social media…. “First, use social media to listen to the customer, then once you have a good understanding of what they want, join the conversation…but when you do join in, make sure you are being authentic.”

Here’s what you missed on social while you were busy making deals:

#RECon14 had some great metrics

I wasn’t able to fully get away from NYC  

mmmmmm, pretzels

I didn’t win an iPad…but someone did!


$3 off to overcome your fear of heights

I guess I wasn’t the only one to meet Mark


Jesse is in charge of PR, Communications and Branding for ICSC and the RECon conference. Follow him on Twitter @JesseTronPR