Archive for May, 2009

Principles of Brand Development

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

You may not have given much thought to brand development, but you should. Brand development involves the evaluation, construction and maintenance of your company’s brand. Your brand is the vital component in differentiating your company from your competitors in the marketplace. Ultimately, your goal is to build customer loyalty through branding.

Standing out among your many competitors in the teeming, crowded modern marketplace is an intimidating challenge, but one that is essential to meet in order for your business to thrive. It is vital to focus on developing an effective brand strategy, or you risk disappearing, becoming invisible in the marketplace.
In order to successfully position your company’s brand above that of your competitors, you must develop your brand to provide an engaging, relevant and unique message directed at clearly identified potential customers. The key elements of successful brand development include several components.

The starting point is aligning your brand with the company’s core values. In order to do this, you need to know what your company’s core values are. Do you have a mission statement for your business? You might find the crafting of mission statements to be innately corny, but it is crucial to branding. How can you expect to align your brand with your company’s core values if you don’t know what your company’s core values are, or at least have not yet articulated those values? You cannot communicate a message if you don’t know what the message is.

The next step is to make whatever message emanates from your company engaging, relevant and unique. This applies to all aspects of your brand, ranging from your company’s logo, to the design of your website, to your advertising, and your descriptions of your products, to just about anything that emanates from your business.

Once you know what your message is, and your company is on message, you must hone that message to incorporate an element of positive emotional attachment in your customers and potential customers. Your goal here is to build loyalty through building customer trust in you and your product or service. Branding needs to be viewed as a long-term process. This message must be consistently echoed throughout within your company, not only in the face that your company shows to the world, but internally within your company.

Once your brand and message are established, you must continually reinforce the message within the organization so that you and your employees clearly and consistently deliver on the clear and consistent promises your brand development have made, both explicitly and implicitly.

You must choose your strategic partners carefully. Your strategic partners, and their message, should echo your message as well. There is no better example of the effectiveness of this approach than a successful election campaign in politics. All the surrogates are clear on what the politician’s brand is, what they have to offer, and they are disciplined about staying on message.

Lastly, yet no less importantly, you must be able to adapt to a changing marketplace. In this information-driven, hyper-speed world, the marketplace changes constantly. If you don’t change with it, you’re a goner

SodaGreen: Daylight Of Spring

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Artist Name: SodaGreen
Release Date: 8th May 2009
Album Language: Mandarin

Hanjin Can Swing

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Let’s broaden our horizons a bit this time around and look at an album which is neither Pop nor sung in Chinese. Why is this recording relevant here then? Well, because we are talking about Hanjin’s Jazz debut.

Who’s Hanjin you ask? Hanjin Tan (陳奐仁) is a producer/songwriter born in Singapore who has risen to fame in Hong Kong over the past 10 years or so thanks his work with some of the biggest artists in the Cantopop scene – such as Eason Chan, Joey Yung, Fama (Long Fu), Jan Lamb and Ivana Wong to name a few – either individually or as part of the Invisible Men production team. And as if this were not enough, he’s also a great singer as numerous guest appearances on back vocals on various albums (and live shows) can testify.

On the basis of this vocal prowess, I had very high expectations for this album and I am happy to report that these expectations were all met and, in some cases, exceeded.

The key power of Hanjin’s voice is the ability to bring the listener in, grab their attention and holding onto it up to the very last note belted out or softly sung, making the entire album a joyful roller-coaster ride of alternating fast swings and slow ballads.

There isn’t really anything new in here in terms of melodies – after all we are talking about a collection of jazz standards – but the way in which these are presented is modern and fresh, also thanks to the great supporting band which sees some of the biggest names in the Hong Kong jazz scene providing a top quality musical background to the wonderful acrobatics of Hanjin’s voice. And what acrobatics he is providing: dreamy intros, colorful scat improvisations and an ever-changing delivery style which demonstrate the maturity of the singer.

All in all, this is a gem of an album, beautifully produced and presented which I highly recommend to anyone regardless of their musical preference, and I can only hope Hanjin carries on producing such wonderful music in future.

Here’s a quick run-down of what you’ll find in the album, song by song:

Sweet Lorraine – Nice way to start the album, short piano intro opens the playground for Hanjin’s voice. Lovely delivery which gave me goose bumps the first time I listened to it. Pure pleasure.

Wave – This has received high airplay on CRHK 903 and made it into their chart as well. Unsurprisingly I must add. A killer vocal intro followed by this Jobim masterpiece, one of the best bossa nova songs of all times. Hanjin gives us a taste of his mouth trumpet impression as well, a recurring feature of the album. Love it, especially the bass finale.

Honeysuckle rose – Flawless delivery of a difficult melody line, great piano solo and interesting vocalizations. One of my favourite songs in the album, if not the favourite one after “Wave”

Cheek to cheek – A Frank Sinatra feeling throughout the song but with a unique delivery which includes interesting scales and belted out notes. Quite pleasant.

That old black magic – Another song with a great intro and excellent vocal delivery which proves Hanjin’s singing qualities, with a hint of Shirley Bassey’s style towards the end.

Moody’s mood for love – Another great delivery, this time reminiscent of Freddie Mercury. Loved the slow guitar (played by the great Skip Moy) in the first part of the song.

Skylark – A slow ballad (one of three in this album), with a dreamy delivery reminiscent of Eva Cassidy’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Ideal for late-night listening.

I’ve got you under my skin – One of Sinatra’s signature songs, beautifully rendered. Top marks, especially the intro.

A foggy day – Slow ballad with a nice mouth trumpet solo in the middle. Watch out for the top note Hanjin delivers towards the end, the proverbial cherry on top of the cake.

The nearness of you – Another slow ballad with a sweet delivery and killer piano work. Similar in style to “Skylark”.

Spain – The gran finale, a felt delivery for a Mediterranean-flavoured song. Does not disappoint.

Do yourself a favor and check the album out on HMV.COM.HK or Youtube (on which you can find the related promo live at Elements, HK) and then rush to buy it, I promise you’ll love it! 🙂

That’s all for now folks, until next time (which hopefully won’t be too far in the future), take care and support Chinese music and artists, always.

All the best from cloudy London,