Love it or not, we all have specific relationship with the Brands. Either we are content by the way they impact our life, or we feel upset by their presence, there is no way to avoid pretty intimate relationships with various brands on a daily level. This dynamic relationship is, of course, prone to changes. We are all evolving and changing but so are the brands around us. Relevancy, understanding the moment we live in, our desires but also the need for change and constant improvement is an imperative big brands have in order to stay in constant communication with their users.

This is also the story about hotel Grand Kopaonik. The symbol of an industry, of the mountain, a myth of the luxury resorts that understands and accepts change as a natural course of development of its mission.

The phenomenology of common sense is there to bring some concepts closer to us and explain them better than the official way might require. The name Grand as a symbol of Kopaonik Mountain, the reference point, and crossroad of all the mountain roads. Left of Grand, below, above, next to Grand, are the colloquial communication used to better explain locations or meeting points around the mountain and ski slopes.

Branding process is always searching to simplify the concepts behind, so the messages are understandable and brand is being brought closer to its audience.

Grand Kopaonik, refreshed and yet new brand have exactly done this. It went back to its roots and tradition and weaved necessary dose of contemporary and future vision into the brand – into the emotion caused by sole mention of the name. The name of such tradition is bearing a number of associations and it had to refresh its visual expression, the primary vehicle of any visual but also verbal message about the hotel.

It is always good to have such a short and effective name – Grand. Five letters. Anyone involved in marketing will attest to that. We have made an analysis of the name through quite different appearances and possible ideas it might evoke. We have taken into account the complete range of hotel and non-hotel services, the environment, increased competition, both local and international, researching the habits, desires and needs of the people we saw as future visitors. They and their expectations were the main role models for the development of the new brand and visual identity. The complexity and diversity of messaging and user experience implied that everything must be very clear to understand, recognize, and creation of positive relationship towards the new logo, a symbol of the new hotel. Still, this “new” hotel, have opened its doors to visitors way back in 1981, – 40 years ago. Innovating tradition, creating balance, designing a luxury brand – the responsibility our design team had was big.

As always – The best ideas are simple. So the idea of the new logo was simple, smart and disarming. In the middle of the word GRAND there is the letter A. The top of the letter “A” can be identified with the pique of the mountain next to Grand Kopaonik, but in a figurative, colloquial sense it represents the pique as the best of what Kopaonik and Grand is able to provide. Simply “pulling out” the top of the letter A, gave the necessary characterization to the logo and weaved all the values that the hotel can provide to its guest – from material to semiotic – from the top treatment to the idea that this IS the place to match your life expectations. The theme – of subtle luxury at every step – has become a mantra that we constantly repeated and which we were guided by in creating all the materials necessary for the smooth communication of the guest with the hotel and vice versa. From the improved signage system in and around the hotel, through the naming and visual stimuli of each restaurant and bar, to reflecting the full enjoyment of the Spa and wellness area, every detail had to function flawlessly. Colors, textures, tactile elements, sound and music, the appearance of the hotel staff, were parts of a whole that breathes and behaves in accordance with the reputation it has created over the years. Naturally, the communication of the new brand has also changed through words and the way of addressing in written, which represent one of the stellar moments of the whole project.

The design and structure of the website, that vividly designed communication stalwart are there to show the brand and its offer in intuitive and informative way. Add to all that advertising campaign, through traditional and digital channels, and in front of you will appear a brand in full splendor that functions flawlessly and lives its life. A life at the top!

Slobodan Jovanovic Coba


The end of the year is approaching and it is time to summarize business achievements and look at the days ahead. We decided to use a long-delayed crystal ball and rub it in the hope that we will get concise answers. Last year, we relied on it, but visibly unprepared to face bizarrely unpredictable circumstances from 2020, we stashed the Ball back in the basement. Instead, we decided to justify good predictions with readiness and dedication. In that way, we will avoid all-day preoccupation with a large number of projects that arrive on a daily basis and require impeccable management. It was both a joy and a problem for us, because too fast growth brought consequences that left a mark, both in the internal organization and in communication with the people with whom we share ideas.

The question we will try to answer before entering next year is: How to improve the organization and optimize the available time so that, to the joy of our clients and their business ideas, we will be even more productive and creative?

Summing up the last year, we can say that we are proud to point out that new colleagues from different sectors have strengthened our team and enabled us to provide a more complete service. It will help us implement the ways in which the brands we create become special – through more efficient project management, stronger strategies, tech, digital and innovative design. Probably the most important lesson we have learned is that the dedication that must be offered to a project involves, to much lager extent, the people we create for – both, the client and the end-user. The focus of our work will be on this relationship. It is a prerequisite for entering the nineteenth year of Coba & Associates studio, to be exciting, to say the least. Instead of reading the crystal ball, we will add our own magic and creatively enrich everything we touch.


There seem to be more and more social networks each day, and your presence is required!

As if until recently it was a matter of choice. The question: “Shall we do the social networks?” was often heard, and those who are a bit elder, for whom television, radio, and billboard are the synonyms for advertising, very reluctantly decided to “try” it, because it is “somewhere out there”, “in the computer” and it’s easy to cancel it and delete it, if “it doesn’t work”. On the other hand, for those born after 1990, the question of social networks is just a matter of choosing the best agency, which will recognize the right audience and generate real content measurable by results.

Thus, in recent years, new industries have appeared, new jobs, bearing names of positions that resemble a game of adding words (one says one word, the next one repeats that word and adds his own, and so on until some of the words are left out accidentally) –  social media strategists, social media content managers, digital copywriters, digital concept developers, and many others have emerged, named differently yet covering the same field of activity: designing content for different social networks that bring together different people with different needs. We must not ignore, however, that often the same person expects a different type of content and a different way of addressing from the brand, when, for example, on Instagram and when on Linked-in.

We can compare the whole situation with a lot of groceries on the table. The ingredients are the same, but we will use them differently to make different dishes, depending on the tastes and wishes of our guests.

This analogy leads us to the conclusion that experts on the digital scene are great chefs, who will easily prepare yummy dishes, ie the experts know how to use the defined features of your brand by combining them in such a manner to reach your targeted audience in the right way. The audience will not eat them, admittedly, but they will gladly consume them.

How to identify which of the networks suits your brand best and how to address your audience properly? Our task is to make your presence fully aligned with your identity, with the defined communication strategy, and with the target group identified for each of the social networks individually. The tone of voices and the visual image rely on the topics we’ve selected, and at all times fulfill the task of preserving a coherent and harmonized message. There are three essential points:

  • Choosing social networks aligned with your brand
  • Recognizing your audience
  • Publishing content that brings measurable results.

With its reach experience, our Pop & Reach digital agency guarantees you great conversions and content that brings you visibility, recognition, and profit. With a dose of POP!



Why do we buy?


Most people perceive marketing as a manipulation of consumers’ emotions. When put so bluntly, it sounds like all ads are a product of the dark side that wants to conquer the world, rule it in perpetual terror, and push the masses to buy more and more until they have nothing left to spend. But marketing is in fact on the light side of the force. And that force is love.

Love is the reason we consumers buy things. It’s the feeling that drives us to make choices, decide on our favorite brands, and determine what’s the most suitable for this or that occasion. Love is why we spend a great deal of time chatting about the best cars, shoes, and phones and why we feel so lost when we can’t find Nutella on the shelves of the supermarket.

That’s why many business conversations revolve around the power of brands and brand building, product and package design, communication, marketing, and the public’s perception of this or that company’s product as a quality one.

Some great companies jumped over these obstacles and established trust among their clients and partners, made fortunes, and kept building their empires around their products. They learned how to be liked and even loved. Relying on corporate culture, the visual power of design, and smart brand building, they attract and keep their customers. Think of Ali Express and all the things you “want” and “need” there, or Netflix when you search for home entertainment, or Snapchat when you want to outsmart your kids by following them on this social network trying to spy on them. It’s not the Facebook “like” we’re talking about here; it’s the genuine understanding of benefits you can derive from being nice and eliciting your customers’ emotional responses.

As Don Draper of Mad Men said, “Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.”

Implement design as a natural part of your business’s DNA and invest a bit of courage into it. “Design requires decisions that narrow possibilities, ultimately until there is one,” writes Nathan Shodroff in his book Design Is the Problem. Having great design helps consumers gain self-confidence, and in return, that builds your offerings’ desirability and thus your brand. It triggers in your customers the willingness to emotionally connect and interact with you.

Design is becoming an essential element of savoir-faire, and with its help, the way to communicate the brand becomes more structured, visible, and approachable.

Make the people like—even more, love—your brand because only then they will be able to understand you and follow you. We tend to give bigger meaning to whatever seems volatile and unstable, but hey—aren’t we all like that in our important relationships? Think about chocolate as comfort food for a second; your relationship with its sweetness goes beyond the physical. Emotional triggers influence the choice bringing it to the brink of an unconscious deed. Falling in love is the same. Do we really think brands do not have the same qualities we seek in our peers, colleagues, and friends?

There are three essential pillars of identity that every company must address in its prospective conversations with the market and customers: It needs to know the Truth about itself—the tangible assets and services it possesses, how they work, and what they accomplish. Meaning is the second identity and brand-building pillar; it says what benefits and improvements it brings to the lives of its customers. It’s the thought process that clearly identifies why we want to use or interact with a brand. The third pillar is Emotion. Again, we are back on this nebulous field so difficult to measure and even worse predict. It’s the breaking point. It’s where the real relationship starts—I like vs. I not like.

So know the truth about your company, create a meaning to be understood, and make them love you. May the force be with you!

Author: Slobodan Jovanović Coba

Illustration: Margareta Nedeljkovic


What’s with the LV bags? Why is LV the most counterfeited fashion brand on the planet at the moment?

“Counterfeits appeal to those people who want to demonstrate their status, but don’t have the funds to do so with genuine products” – BBC

We all want to feel good. We want for our choices to show our taste. So what is happening with food brands and why is it that the cheap food has too look cheap?

When you go to the supermarket you surround yourself with approximately 40,000 items. How do you choose which one you will buy, how do you know what is it you need, do you really want that fancy looking, gold – letters – single – origin chocolate or the “normal” chocolate is good enough for you?
That brings out the question, how come that the “normal” chocolate has to look “bad – cheap”?
With the new means of printing and production, the cost of fancy looking packaging is not beyond the reach anymore. Or even better, with proper and clever design you can save money on production and create something more interesting than gold foil fancy lettering chocolate wrap.

But the more alarming question appears when you find out that many brands don’t even consider changing their bad & ugly, excuse me, bad & outdated looking packaging,
I am in the branding industry for quite some time now, and I have heard many so-called reasons, and the most appeared one is that “our target audience won’t buy our products anymore if we make any changes”. But the target audience changed! The time moves for them too! The target audience should never be underestimated, especially in this digital age when we are all surrounded by LV bags and “we want to be part of that club”.

I recently read the article at AIGA “Eyes on design” about the private labels changing their design and it showed a perspective in which brands don’t want to look cheap anymore as they understood that they have to look good and compete the with hi-end products, regardless of their price and quality.

“With the private label, the design does not intend to get consumers to pay more for a product. Instead, it’s supposed to make people feel better about paying less.”

Not to mention the financing side of that.

“By making their own brands into an easy, attractive, looks-nice-in-the-pantry choice rather than a compromise, mid-tier retailers improve their margins and drive brands loyalty.”

Our job as designers, marketing and brand directors is to educate consumers, too. People will buy products based on the quality and price they can afford, and, yes, there will always be some Evian and Fiji on the shelf, but the local spring water is also good as any!

Yet, on the other hand, as our creative director Slobodan Jovanovic – Coba often says

“The good design will be the fastest killer of a bad product. Yet, there are less and less bad products today when there are so many restrictions and regulations, but still, we define “good” and “bad” without an inquiry on compositions and add-ons. I think that design is THE MOST critical element in the products life cycle and it must be a visual counterpart of the taste and quality of the product.”

So what’s the excuse for not having a good designed brand?
There isn’t any.

See you in a bit.


Very simply put, a brand is a business. Like every business, it seeks to grow and become valued because valued brands are those people love and buy into. That in turn adds to the value of the company. And some of them in a big way. Value makes the difference when it comes to transactions of any kind.

Why are some brands worth much more than others? Seth Godin, the best-selling author of business books, wrote, “A brand’s value is merely the sum total of how much extra people will pay, or how often they choose, the expectations, memories, stories, and relationships of one brand over the alternatives.”


It all comes to this—we prefer what’s special rather than what’s not special. Therefore, the investment in a brand to increase its value is critical to the growth and success of the company. Today’s biggest brands are quick to appeal to the needs of their customers; they are giving to get. They are the products of complex organizations that focus on their customers’ expectations. Great brands narrow the understanding of their offers and reduce the noise coming from competitors.

They give their customers a better experience and proximity through identity and clear purpose. Because they have a strong sense of whom their customers are, they’re able to address their needs and go beyond that—they can entertain them and make them happier.


According to Forbes magazine, Coca-Cola is worth just a bit less than $183 billion, of which $56 billion is the brand’s net worth. That means a third of everything this huge company owns is embodied in its name, bottle shape, logo, and colour together—the essential components of every brand on the planet.

We interact daily with such valuable brands in more than one way. Coca-Cola spends $4 billion annually promoting its brand. We have confidence in this brand despite staunch anti-sugar drinks campaigns because it’s telling us something, right? That’s why we order Coke (or Pepsi) and not just a generic cola. Consumers trust better-known brands more than others; that fact puts such brands in a lower-risk category. And lower risk translates into higher value.


To understand where and how real value is created, companies engage heavily in research; they’re looking for more certainty when it comes to spending—investing—in brand promotion.

Recent (2017) research conducted by WPP-owned companies The Partners, Lambie-Nairn, and Millward Brown/BrandZ, shows the results of investments in brand positioning and identity and their consequent value and place in the market. The data amassed came from 100,000 brands in 45 countries. Their 20-year customer-centric research gathered an astonishing 4.5 billion data points to support the conclusions, some of which are pretty straightforward:

• Businesses that combined unique and compelling brand value propositions, distinctively designed brand identities, and great advertising saw a 168 percent increase in brand valuation over ten years.

• Businesses that combined unique and compelling brand value propositions with distinctively designed brand identities but failed to provide great advertising saw a 76 percent increase in brand valuation over ten years.

• Businesses that produced what consumers considered great advertising but for weak or poorly understood brand value propositions and without distinctive brand identities saw only a 27 percent increase in brand valuation over the same ten years.

• Businesses built around weak brand value propositions and identities and what consumers considered poor advertising saw a meagre 21 percent increase in brand valuation over ten years.

As such research shows, investing in brand strategy and identity before in advertising and marketing communications will prompt an increase of anywhere from 50 to 140 percent in brand value. With brand valuations ranging from millions to hundreds of millions of dollars, these percentages represent immense bottom-line value.


The best thing companies can do is invest in identity and positioning a mere fraction of what they invest in advertising and promotional activities. A great example of this is Richard Branson’s Virgin brand. Their great diversification in offer under the same name and driven by the same values that seamlessly blend from activity to activity adds to each offer’s strengths. Such synergy produces direct benefits to all the companies under the Virgin brand and gives them a clear advantage in the market race.

Only when a brand’s identity and position are safeguarded and clearly addressed will investments in broader marketing activities have a fair chance at promoting growth. This means continuous improvement in yearly balance sheets as opposed to trying to close gaps with tactical and crisis- management campaigns.

Marketing expert James Archer wrote, “Marketing is food, not medicine.” He considered it “regular, sustained nourishment that gets your business where you want it—and keeps it there. You need it throughout the day, every day.”

The value the brand brings to the customer is at the core of the branding process. It’s a matter of being responsible toward the world. The more a company shows how self-responsible it is and how it addresses its customers, the more that company can expect an increase—and it could be a dramatic increase—in the value of its brand.

Text originally appeared in Lumen magazine


Whether online, or social, or in-store, the shopping experience should be a lot less like buying and a lot more like going on a first date and having a good time. It should be a great experience that makes you feel so good that you’re already planning your next date.



Today’s customers are the focus of attention and have the power to access whatever they want however and whenever they want it. A new paradigm has been created. We no longer have consumers looking for the products they need; the retailers find the customers they need. The retailers tailor their products to their customers—the brand story as well as the online and live experience. They analyze their customers’ needs and habits in great detail.

Brands are there to enthuse, charm, and seduce the customers, and the retailers continue caring about the needs of their customers. The days when customers were restricted to store opening hours are gone; 24/7 accessibility has shifted the balance of power in favor of the consumer. According to brand strategist Alfredo Muccino, consumers have changed their approach to shopping from “I need stuff” to “I want an experience.” This change happened as a result of contemporary society seeking happiness in satisfaction and fulfilment with life rather than in material values.

Material possessions do not make you successful; having experiences that are yours alone is the goal shaping future communities. We’re in the midst of a transition from an industrial to a robotic age, and that requires new models and values. “The convergence of a new consumer paradigm and overcrowded marketplace has finally brought the [retail] industry to the brink of fundamental change,” says Robin Lewis in The Robin Report. The product in itself is no longer enough.


Customer retention involves the development of a new set of ideas and narratives that surround any one product. The emergence of social networks and open, public communication between consumers about brands has put brands in a vulnerable position, and they must tackle this issue to ensure sustainability and loyalty. “Don’t think about sales per square foot but experience per square foot,” says Rachel Shechtman, founder of the STORY retail concept.

On its website, STORY describes itself as a retail space that takes the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery, and sells things like a store. This concept goes beyond traditional shopping and acts like a matchmaker between customers, brands, designers, and a whole chain of people connected with the brands sold there. The authors of this concept understand that experience leads to transactions, and they apply that knowledge with one difference—customers get so much more out of the experience before even buying anything that they will bond with the place where they made the purchase.


The surveys presented in Harbor Industries: Industry Trends and Insights in the U.S. indicate that improving the customer experience by just 10 percent can yield as much as USD1 billion in additional revenue, while an astonishing 86 percent of buyers claim they are ready to pay more for a better shopping experience!

The retail space is unrivaled in this respect. Whether a real brick-and-mortar store or an online point, the retail experience is what makes the customer stop,

communicate, and come back. “Consumers today seek reciprocal relationships with partners who ‘get’ them—who are into the same things, who speak their language, who want similar outcomes in life, and who are willing to be invested in a relationship. Retailers and brands should seek meaningful encounters rather than just incenting cold, one-time transactions,” says retailing expert Dee Warmath.

A recent study revealed that consumers who feel an emotional connection to a retailer are four times more likely to shop with it—the greater the emotional connection, the stronger the relationship and the higher the earnings. This leads to the creation of a whole set of touch points that enable the retailer and customer to form a relationship. If this relationship is disrupted, 89 percent of customers are ready to go elsewhere according to the Kissmetric’s report The Price of Bad Customer Service. Investing in pampering and indulging customers has become an absolute priority and an essential component of every budget.


Brands are becoming socially aware because they want their buyers to perceive them as such. Starbucks, Toms, Microsoft, and others allocate a part of their profits to humanitarian causes, which puts them in a new category of conscious members of the wider community who care to make a contribution to improve the world they share with their customers. The customers clearly recognize and appreciate this, and these brands have gained the special affection of consumers with a positive impact on their revenues.

The assumptions and successful case studies that worked in the past are now obsolete. Traditional demographic models that brands have so carefully perfected over the past decades are an increasingly inadequate descriptor of the new consumer. People of all ages and incomes and in all markets are free to construct their own identities more freely than ever. This inference is applicable even more to a new luxury consumer. They have regrouped themselves into tribes with specific languages and aesthetics and a similar set of values. We’ve come to the point where “seasons don’t matter, trends don’t matter, age doesn’t matter,” says New York style forecaster Sharon Graubard in her book Everything is Niche. This also means that the traditional rivalry between producers, distributors, and retailers primarily based on service price fluctuations must give way to a new form of collaboration that centers around the consumer rather than the narrow interests of each individual link in that chain because they all depend on the customer more than ever before.

The ability of customers to conduct transactions anywhere and anytime puts this in a new context. There’s a relationship of mutual reliance here, so it’s not just about producing, distributing, and selling goods; the entire chain now focuses on the customers, who have thus gained some control over the entire process. They know who makes the product and what it’s made of in addition to how much it costs. The whole business has become transparent to such an extent that full attention must be devoted to every step of the process.


This whole business is about cultivating relationships. Good relationships between customers on the one hand and brands and retailers on the other are capable of moving things forward to ensure an always desirable, positive, and qualitative return on investment. Customers feel they have invested in relationships and expect their first dates and those to follow to be special.

Text originally appeared in Lumen magazine