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Wally Olins. On B®and. by Wally Olins
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This is an essential book for everyone in advertising, marketing and bus Branding has now moved far beyond its commercial origins, and consumer response has entered uncharted territory. This is an essential book for everyone in advertising, marketing and business who needs to know why the most successful brands in the world triumph by making insiders believe in them and consumers buy into them.
Get A Copy. That's a simple proposition that enabled a direction, and many changes for the better did come. Political change should be grounded in enhanced equality. It might mean dismantling national borders, maybe having democracy function at a planetary level. Could the world vote on certain issues together, instead of being bound by the power of nation states?
Can business help further this discussion? The business community is vital to this conversation. Businesses are stakeholders in larger society and should shape it for the better, always thinking about the societal consequences of business practices. There are many enterprises today that try to conduct themselves in a way that they think to be morally sensible. For real impact, there are huge implications on the way they approach regulators, partners, products, and customers. For example, businesses could promote a shift from an obsession around the human being as consumer to a focus on the human being as producer.
For much of the last half century, the idea of consumers has become dominant in business and political discourse.
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Everything gets cheaper, or free, which is good for the consumer. But consumers can only consume thanks to borrowing or producing. Borrowing is unsustainable, and producing gives a sense of dignity and self-worth. From a business standpoint, the productive capacity of the end user should be the test. Businesses should ask themselves how they add value both to the people working in the company and to the people they sell to. What value, economic or otherwise, can these people create from productive activity? How can business be built on mutual benefit? For example, say writing Facebook posts is a productive activity, I would like those producers to be compensated — to capture some share of the value in the economic system in which they're participating.
If this is to happen, there are lots of questions to answer. Overall, though our pessimism is at least statistically unwarranted, we need change. To start that process, we must talk about visions of the future that are radical, forward-looking and - above all - genuinely and inclusively attractive. Focusing simply on monetising the consumer strikes me as an increasingly untenable long-term proposition, and re-orienting away from this is very important. What a time to lead. The scale and complexity of change in the world is unprecedented, and our research shows this is taking its toll on our general outlook.
Data is enormous, some problems are too complex to understand, corporate power is shifting, and technology may be escaping our control as post-human futures crest the horizon.
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In this landscape, how can a leader be effective? What style of leadership can tackle the ambiguous, inter-systemic challenges we face to steer us towards a radically better future? We'll talk about how modern leaders must bring fresh energy to perennial concerns, and consider entirely new ones. Diverse teams are smarter because they understand diverse problems, and without them business can suffer. In broader culture, expectations have shifted: 7 year olds give TED talks, people of colour take the highest accolades in fashion, film, and theatre, and feminist narratives thrive.
Women are absurdly under-represented: there are only 15 female heads of state out of , more FTSE CEOs called Dave than female CEOs, and despite playing a central role in the development of computing, women struggle to be accepted in Silicon Valley. Biases are hard to overcome. To tackle them, modern leaders must recognise the value of Emotional Intelligence. Truly engaging with EI means significant shifts in leadership craft. Leaders need to understand their emotional limits, seek to extend them, and embrace those of others. This suggests that creativity a resides in all of us, and b is a mechanism we have evolved to respond to and survive change.
We need new ideas, but we also need careful maintenance and systems-thinking to ensure our ideas have broad, long-term impact. The leaders we spoke to agreed that creativity, by this definition, is vital. This means being willing to connect, to be open-minded and curious, to learn and play. Perhaps most importantly, it means being willing to encourage creativity in those around them by making room for experimentation.
Reaching beyond the now Pressures to focus on the short-term are manifold. Leaders need to help us look further ahead, beyond immediate reward and recognition. Long-term challenges require effort that may go unrecognised for decades. We realize their visions, as future generations will realize ours.
For this kind of long-term thinking, leaders need integrity and accountability. Rather than enter the stalemate between stubborn nostalgia and indefinite optimism on one side, and the sclerotic lack of alternatives on the other, leaders should seek coalitions and partnerships. Ultimately, integrity means that social goals align with business goals, rather than taking second place. Leaders must recognise customers and competitors as people and partners, rather than numbers and threats.
They must push VC return cycles to raise capital to support long-term goals, that build a future we may never actually get to appreciate. We need diverse leaders building inclusive environments. We need them to nurture creativity to solve existing problems rather than create new ones. And we need our figureheads to have integrity, to pursue visions that have incredibly far-reaching consequences. As a film fan, I tend to see the world through that lens.
This is a challenge to CEOs but also a surprising vote of confidence for the potential of business to do good, in a world where pop culture repeatedly paints corporations as greedy Gordon Gekkos, impervious to the needs of regular Joe. Business, the film seems to say, is the cynical pursuit of profit, in direct opposition to the human impulse to do good by your fellow wo man.
Yet our research shows that people do believe that profit-seekers can and should be agents for positive impact. Are we now more willing to have faith in business? The online revolution of the last decade has transformed how we tell, consume and monetize stories, and has played an instrumental role in blurring the lines between people and business. Social media, in particular, gives everyone with internet access the ability to publish their ideas to millions in the blink of an eye: propelling the unknown to influential, and making the previously unknowable — celebrities, politicians, business leaders — more like us aka more funny, boring, spontaneous, flawed.
So the digital tools that give us the power to turn businesses inside out may in turn have humanized the very companies we prefer to distrust. One video of Travis Kalanick turning on a driver became the viral personification of Uber on its worst day. Elon Musk is a billionaire future-builder you can tweet right now and who might respond in seconds. Unlike Steve Jobs and other iconic business enigmas of the past, leaders and their staff are there to interact with us at any moment, creating the illusion that they are more current, more accessible and perhaps more open to act in our interests than ever before.
New forms of media are also central to undermining our confidence in public institutions. Coming of age at the end of last Century, the zeitgeist was defined by stories investigating the morality of stiffs in suits Pretty Woman, , American Psycho, published Today, we interrogate power in new ways. Perhaps this increased lack of trust for the establishment has shed a relatively optimistic light on the potential for business to make positive impact?
Silence is jeopardy Another reason for this shift in perception may be simply that businesses are doing better at doing good. High profile scandals like the Volkswagen emissions cover-up in may finally have put the nail in the coffin of Corporate Social Responsibility as an effective vehicle for impact and consumer influence.
In its place has grown a new breed of digitally-native businesses that put their social mission at the heart of their brand and their business model. Warby Parker and Everlane are riding the wave of conscious consumerism by giving us all the chance to do good as we do things that feel good. We have to acknowledge, however, that this new breed is typically privately-owned and therefore free to pursue personally motivated social agendas. But today, to keep silent is to jeopardize the reputation of the company. Not on long-term alliances, leadership choices or the right of public companies to pursue social agendas.
Common sense and our research says this is as true of board execs as it is masked crusaders. There is no doubt though that the semantic difference between brand identity and corporate identity is profound. Do you mean Corporate Identity is something more cosmetic? Some people might think so.
But when you talk to a commercial organization about brand strategy they know that it is about money and is therefore worth talking about. The long-term implication is that it puts brand strategists and brand consultants right at the heart of the business world. Corporate identity does not do this. This also has knock on implications we can talk about later if you want, in relation to advertising agencies and so on. Inevitably then, what brand you choose to belong to, what brand you choose to associate yourself with is of profound significance.
That means people who buy things want to be seen to be giving as well as buying. And corporations with which they deal will have to demonstrate an association with some kind of socially responsible activity. And that in turn means a knock on effect for not-for-profits and charities.
And that brings you back to branding again. To some extent, do you think the general public tends to switch off or become numb to all this? Or is it more a case of branding having heralded a kind of visual literacy amongst the general public? On the other hand, one should never underestimate the ingenuity of commercial organisations to seduce people. And that is a very powerful mechanism for change. There is another mechanism at work, which is also significant; branding has entered sport, and the arts, and music, and culture in a huge way, both for better and worse.
For better: because it makes them more professional, more effective and more available. For worse: because it inevitably has the effect of commercialising them. Well Naomi Klien has written a very interesting book [ No Logo ] but it is based on an entirely false premise. The idea she works with is that the brand itself has a morality. In reality the brand has no morality. It simply presents whatever it is representing in the most powerful and visual and emotional form. What these people fail-—or choose not to—understand, is that the brand is without morality.
Do they make the brand good? If they are politically motivated, depending on your own political motivations, people will look at them accordingly. It is something we use. We need to belong. The brand is a demonstration of belonging. So [ No Logo ] is wrong. It is based on an entirely false premise. You could say capitalism is good or bad. What [Naomi Klein] is saying is that capitalist society at its sickest uses brands to seduce and manipulate people. Well it does, if you choose to be seduced and manipulated then you will be. Where in all this does the responsibility of the graphic designer fall?
Do they even have jurisdiction?
The brief is: make us look like we believe in something, make us or our product look believable, [and] look like we mean something. Where I think he and I might disagree is in the assumption that one can create a smoke and mirrors idea with which one can consistently fool people. It makes it very visible and very seductive the first time. You know, this is not Nazi Europe.
You have a choice. You can turn off. And I can give you a number of examples of this. MG was a much loved car brand because for over forty or fifty years it built up a reputation for being the first fun car that lots of kids had. It looked lovely and won races, and all that kind of stuff.
Over the following thirty years the company which owned MG systematically destroyed it, apparently almost on purpose. They destroyed everything about it: they produced lousy cars, they put the badge on cars that were entirely inappropriate, and so on. That is a company which destroyed itself because it was cynical and misused its heritage.
One can think of other examples of products or organizations that destroyed themselves in this way. Another example: Andersen Accounting. It happens again, and again and again. Then you have to choose by emotion. If it is not generating news it is clipped out of our awareness. And the news it generates must be on message. Yes and no, because that does not take into account web content. That was true until a very few years ago, simply because all content about anything was generated by the conventional media.
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Now it can be generated, and is generated, by everybody. Georg Jensen is the name of this watch brand. Georg Jensen was an incestuous rapist and so on. Obviously, I just made that up. But if I put it on the web somebody would pick it up and there would be a whole performance about it. How has technology changed things in branding?