Damien Tourailles No Comments

Commencement speech UBI, Wiltz, graduation ceremony 27 June 2018 & Award for the best professor of the academic year 2017-2018

Dear All,

Imagine the drawing of a banana by an unknown artist, now imagine the drawing of a banana by Andy Warhol. The latter is going to attract a much higher price than the former.  It is a matter of branding, personal branding.

The origin of a brand is to be recognised, to be seen as different, think about Versace. A brand is a promise, think about the ads of Swiss. A brand can be associated with dreams, Channel? A brand can be associated with wealth. One does not purchase a Cartier watch to know the time. A brand can also be associated with a colour, the City blue and with a slogan, “Vorsprung durch Technik”. However, the issue of a brand is its essence, the hard work behind the screens. Think about the technology behind the screen of IKEA.

Better than brands are premium brands. Think about the “New Mini”. The car has grown in the mind of marketeers, realising that there might be a nostalgia for the Mini of the sixties. For a billion-dollar project the question was: “do we have about one hundred fifty thousand nostalgic potential customers?”  At the time of the launching of the New Mini the profile was a person between fifty-five and sixty years old, willing to pay for a premium car, as a second or third car. The answer was positive. Since then the profile has changes and is now closer to thirty years old, responding to a need of differentiation, personalisation and a niche market. When entering a showroom of Mini, you will see a normal Mini but will be attracted by the differentiation and the augmented product. It is the augmented product, different wheels, different seats, different colours that are going to attract the attention and the willingness to pay a premium.

As you enter a lifelong learning journey think about the lesson of the augmented product, the premium brand. It is what you are going to add to your diploma, your additional skills, what we call the soft skills, and what I would call the core skills that are going to make a difference. You will no longer be different but better than competition. There are a lot of things you can do for yourself, such as speed reading, negotiation skills, selling skills, time management, listening better, avoiding multitasking, and so on.

My message is, improve on your premium brand, become a “lovemark”. This term was introduced by Saatchi and Saatchi and covers products where customers are no longer customers but disciples and the ambassadors of the brand.

Translated to you, it means work on your likeability. The “likeability factor” translated to us comprehends authenticity and empathy. Empathy is not natural, sympathy. Empathy requires this effort to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. It requires an effort, contributing to the perception of the persons around you.

Finally, let me wish you luck. I know that people think that you make your own luck but this is only partially true. In the highly competitive market place you need at time these serendipity moments where you are just in the right position at the right time and pieces fall nicely together. Your skills will contribute to this likelihood. Good luck to all of you and stay in touch.

Roger Claessens No Comments

The likeability factor (continued)

You will remember from my last article that “Fourth Impact” attracted my attention in the competition of the X Factor UK. I was surprised and disappointed that they had to leave the competition reaching the fourth place after the semi-finals. Later it appeared that they had never really be in the top three favourites throughout the competition with the British public. They had by far the largest viewers on YouTube with a broad fan base in the tune of million likes. However it appears that it is not possible to vote for the candidates outside the UK for the X Factor UK. Read more

Roger Claessens No Comments


Have fun in remembering things!

We distinguish three stages in memorisation: the sensitive memory, the short term memory and the long term memory.

Your sensory memory consists of a brief and temporary memory, which is a recognition of what the senses take in. For example, you discover an unknown fruit in the supermarket, its shape, colour, odour and you go on with your life without really remembering it.

Your short term memory has a capacity to retain a limited number of items for a limited period. For example, you pay more attention to the fruit we just mentioned, studied its texture, its taste but you will forget its name after all.

Your long term memory in opposition to the two others has a queasy unlimited capacity to retain information and on top of it, for a very long time.
Remembering consists of going from your short memory to your long memory. This requires a double action :

  1. Encoding which requires attention and association
  2. Retrieval which requires recalling and recognition.

Consequently, memorisation requires:

  • Encoding with attention.
  • Classifying and structuring of the information.
  • Establishing a link of association.
  • Establishing a code of retrieval.
  • An undivided attention.
  • A conscious effort of repetition.
  • Reading dynamics (fast reading with utter attention).

Why do you forget things?

  1. The information never got into your long term memory in the first place.
  2. No association when you decided to remember.
  3. No trigger that allows you to retrieve the information.
  4. No recent retrieval.

What is the name again of that charming actress playing in “Serendipity” (Un Amour à New York)? : “ KB” like the bank ( KB is the association; her name is Kate Beckinsale)

How will your remember things?

  • When you pay attention (say that to your kids!)
  • When you believe in the fact you can remember everything you want
  • When you are in good health and relaxed
  • When you enjoy a sustained activity

Just believe in yourself and enjoy a great memory; you will impress everyone around you!

Roger Claessens No Comments

Et pourquoi pas ?

As you may have noticed my articles are mostly related to marketing, more specifically branding, economics and banking. All rules have exceptions, and this article is one. I have always thought that after six books on finance and marketing it would be nice to write a story in the banking environment playing on the concepts that I have so often explained. The background would be some dark money laundering scheme in a central bank and I leave the rest to your imagination but it would of course contain a love story, to say the least.

Well, I have been beaten by my elder daughter Geraldine, 33, a civil engineer with an MBA, who just published her first story about adventure and love. Despite her professional responsibilities and being a young mother and commuting day in day out, she succeeded in doing so. The interesting side of the story is that she did it with a good friend of hers. Each wrote a chapter in sequence, continuing each other’s part of the story. They are friends since childhood and must be really good friends to flow like that from chapter to chapter.

They have chosen an author’s name MARIE DIVONE and the story told by the author(s) is about Maxime who inherited a jewel with a strange inscription which leads him to the other side of the planet, where he will meet Sharifa. Their lives and dreams will become intertwined and…

More about this at www.shopmybooks.com

Roger Claessens No Comments

From Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) to Artificial Sensitivity (A.S.)

I use the word sensitivity in the sense of the degree to response to an incoming message, signal or a change in the incoming signal as well as the capacity to be sensitive to the concern expressed in the message.

You may remember A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), Mr. Spielberg’s film, on an idea of late Stanley Kubrick. Steven Spielberg inherited the project (based on the Brain Aldiss short story “Supertoys Last All Summer Long“) after Kubrick’s death in 1999, and the result has been an astounding directorial hybrid. It is about the fairy-tale adventures of an artificial boy named David (Haley Joel Osment), a marvel of cybernetic progress who wants only to be a real boy, loved by his mother in that happy place called home (Source: Amazon.com Jeff Shannon).
You may remember the end where the dream of the little boy becomes reality for a short while and where despite being artificial he behaves like humans can do, but not always do, with sweetness and tenderness.
More recently the film HER by Spike Jonze, directing the award-winning drama following Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely writer, who falls in love with an operating system, with an exceptional sense of perception, is in line with the need for tenderness. Growing more and more isolated from the outside world, the writer’s curiosity is piqued by a campaign advertising the latest artificially intelligent operating system (O.S.). When he is first introduced to his new technological assistant Samantha (voice of Scarlett Johansson) he is surprised by her ever-growing emotionality and fresh way of looking at the world. As time passes, Theodore finds himself connecting with Samantha in ways he could never have imagined. (Source Amazon.co.uk).

This idea, less spectacular than A.I. takes us in the same direction but is much closer to our reality and more in line with today’s perceived potential of the world of IT. An IBM executive at a recent conference in Luxembourg stated that computers start to learn, like humans. Next step is they will start to sense changes in verbal commands, read eyes or lips and detect sensitivity. I suppose it will still take a while to get to the level of the O.S. (operating system) in the film but we are on that path.
Moreover, HER underlines the difficulty to live as a human being and the search for tenderness. After all, this is the key issue: tenderness. We all need it to grow, to live, to survive, hence the effort to compensate with an O.S. what a HUMAN cannot or is not willing to provide. It is quite understandable that we continue to search in that direction. Moreover the film also nicely underlines the problem we have with exclusive relationships and sense of possession. Actually the turning point of the film is about exclusivity in a relationship and all the problems related to it. Humans will have to grow as well, be it only to match the smart and generous O.S.’s

Roger Claessens No Comments

The role of communication technologies in the success of brand and reputation

Branding, after all, is about differentiation. Describing a brand begins with words. The beauty of modern technology is that it makes it possible to communicate with millions of people. Today when an organisation communicates through, say Facebook, it does not communicate with one person but with one thousand persons. Success in this context means things such as: likes and views, subscribers, inbound links and comments and downloads.
We have seen that branding is linked, amongst other concepts, to the need to be “perceived”. With the expansion of technology organisations have at their disposal a vast set of communication channels. As shown earlier, all have their own features. Obviously the issue is not, what the organisation’s preferred channel is but what the preferred channel of its “fan club”. The word fan in this context is used as people who, so to speak, click “Like” when an organisation posts or says something. How the fan club is going to listen to what we have to say, to read what we publish and talk about us to other potential fans, is the key of the communication and of the brand’s success. Everybody is making noise and any organisation has to face the challenge to publish and make sure that the content is going to stand out. This will require analysis and testing but it is possible to see what works and what doesn’t. In any event, the organisation will have to stand out!
An organisation can use as many channels as feasible, again not in function of what the organisation thinks about these channels, but in function of whom they want to reach. An example, a very successful EU program is the Erasmus program, the students exchange program. Most of the beneficiaries are students in their early twenties. Most of them, I presume, are on Facebook and act or could act as the ambassadors of the program. They may also be on Instagram or use Twitter, or put some films on You Tube, or whatever…but that is where the EU can reach them and interact with this specific group and ascertain they talk about the program to others and act as fans of the EU brand. Most professionals have their curriculum vitae on LinkedIn, another source of communication which allows organisations or their representatives to interact and make sure the organisation is perceived as being part of the LinkedIn community. There is no doubt that success depends on creating a group of supporters, fans, ambassadors whilst using “their” preferred means of communication.

In any event the design of a successful communication strategy starts with the understanding of the preferences and habits, needs of the recipients of the communication. Genuinely putting the recipient first is a winning formula. Having said that, content is the key. Content is an asset. Content is a brand builder. Content and actions are two sides of the same coin. Today even more than ever, on organisation has to make sure that readers know what they are doing, because everybody is out there, making noise. INTERNET communication is an art in itself as people are even more impatient and behave more instinctively behind screens than in real life. They read like they read road sings along a motor way. Unlike journalism, this type of communication requires to begin with the search of the “why’s”.
You may conclude that successful brand communication is the result of your knowledge of what the reader likes to read and likes to use. “Know your reader and turn readers into fans!” However, not all people are on line, so the classical way of communication is not gone, just there are so many additional tools that can be used now. The new channels have not replaced the classical ones. They are complementary. However the new channels are so powerful that one gets the impression they become the only efficient means of communication. A successful communication strategy contributing to the success of the brand will comprehend a communication strategy in line with the reader’s profile, the appropriate content of the message and the required level of language sophistication used within the appropriate channels.
A 14/02/2015 check on FACEBOOK shows that the European Commission has 432.807 likes; Harvard University 4.081.396 likes and Katy Perry (randomly chosen) 77.330.199 likes. You cannot compare an artist’s page to an organization’s page but you can watch and learn from the way the artist creates such a huge fan club, not just by singing but by the extensive use of “all the modern means”. Remember that branding precedes you or is in other words the sum of all conversations. The brand’s success depends on what they say about you!

Roger Claessens No Comments

What’s in it for me?

Young lady rowingMost of the time this is a key question, isn’t it? There are many circumstances where this question is applicable. Think about the motivation of members of staff, about research, self-development, education and sports, of course.

The reason why I selected this photo is not just due to the fact that I am rowing, but because it looks like quite a natural way to walk with a skull and rowing gear. I could not even think of walking like this. That natural way is the result of hours and hours of hard, very hard work. This is the issue when we see perfection. We think it is easier than it is. Besides, we only realize how though it is when we try to reach the same goals. Sure, you know the sentence, never give up (repeat it five times!).

Perfection is the level we should be aiming at. The reason is that we almost always fail short of that level and can hope, in the best of circumstances, to reach the level of appreciation of “very good or excellent”. In case one aims at “very good” if one falls short it would be “good” and “good is not good enough”. Now this has always been the case, think about the middle-ages and the corporations and their masters. There has always been competition. Today, because of globalization on all fronts, that competition is exacerbated. The consequence thereof is that, at times, even perfect is no longer good enough!

The young lady you see is part of a team of champions rowing for Canada. Let us say that she just rowed two hours which would mean that she has done or attempted to do about 5000 perfect strokes. Patiently, one after the other, she is determined, second after second, to control each stroke so that all the components of the movement are perfect per fraction of a second.

What is in it for her? It is a state of mind that provides her with the immense pleasure to be better today than she was yesterday and keep trying to improve that. “Me” is my challenge and showing the best of me is my greatest pleasure….and it makes the other team members happy too. You can translate this state of mind on most circumstances and who will the ultimate champion of your mind? What’s in it for me? Well me is all about you!

Roger Claessens No Comments

La communication des entreprises

La communication des entreprises est un domaine de plus en plus complexe. Est-il aujourd’hui possible de totalement maîtriser son image de marque ? (Roger Claessens)

La communication est un art et c’est toujours le cas. En fait il est bien plus facile de marquer sa présence qu’avant ! La marque est une question de substance et c’est toujours le cas ! Ce qui a surtout changé est l’interaction en temps réel des consommateurs avec les entreprises et leurs marques.

Je voudrais prendre comme exemple le Guide Michelin, le guide rouge. D’après Wiki, lepremier guide Michelin fut créé en 1900 par André Michelin et son frère Édouard. Publié à l’occasion de l’exposition universelle de 1900, c’est alors un guide publicitaire offert avec l’achat de pneumatiques. La France compta alors 2 400 conducteurs, pionniers de l’automobile à qui le guide fournit des informations précieuses : liste des rares garagistes, des médecins, plan de quelques villes et liste des curiosités. Avec le temps, le nombre de produits offerts par Michelin s’est étoffé. Le guide est réputé pour la classification des hôtels, gites, maisons d’hôtes mais surtout les restaurants pour lesquels il décerne les étoiles. C’est une communication sophistiquée. Cependant elle ne permet pas de voir si le consommateur ressent l’expérience de son achat soit de son séjour dans un hôtel soit d’un repas en ligne avec la classification et le prix annoncé.

Dans la ligné de la révolution INTERNET et des outils tels que Hotel.com, Booking.com et Michelin.com. , les consommateurs agissent en temps réel. Il ne s’agit plus de classement mais d’appréciation par rapport au classement avec des avis en temps réels émis par les consommateurs qui influencent les clients potentiels.

La maitrise de l’image de marque est donc une maitrise de tous les détails, comme cela a toujours été le cas… mais plus rien n’est pardonné car sanctionné en temps réel! Cela se résume à la recherche de l’excellence de manière permanente. Pas de faiblesse. Nous vivons dans une évaluation permanente. Ce qu’il faut contrôler c’est la qualité, la substance de ce que l’on fait, en d’autres mots, la valeur ajoutée. C’est un défi de tous les jours qui ne convient, pour finir, qu’à peu de monde et  met un grand nombre de personnes sous pression.

Ce qui donne «  l’impression » de perdre le contrôle est l’ensemble des réseaux à la disposition des consommateurs. Un client déçu peut en effet marquer sa déception directement à l’hôtel – pour rester dans ce domaine – mais il peut le refléter dans des sites tels que Hotel. Com ou Trip.Advisor ou encore sur sa page Facebook, Twitter, You Tube et ainsi de suite. Impossible de contrôler cela….donc cela se résume à l’essentiel qui est la délivrance du produit ou service d’une manière irréprochable. Les produits tels que l’iPhone sont le résultat de la recherche de la perfection à tous les niveaux. C’est bien plus que la production et la communication, c’est le vécu, c’est qui crée non plus des consommateurs mais des adeptes.

En conclusion je crois qu’il est possible de contrôler son image de marque et de communiquer de manière cohérente tout en sachant que lorsqu’on parle à une personne aujourd’hui en fait on parle à mille personnes.  De ce fait la pression s’amplifie de par l’inter connectivité des canaux de communication et l’absence de  limite géographique. Ce qui se passe dans un restaurant à Beaune peut être rapporté en temps réel à Sydney.