The core values at Border Frontier are opportunity, community and responsibility. So, when I heard Patrick Hanlon, author of Primal Branding, was coming to town, I made sure to book my seat. As it sometimes happens with such events, you walk away with one very clear and resonant takeout. In this instance, it was community … how to build effective brand communities. And for me, the key was once again love…love as an economic driver. How can we build brands to become better business assets? By building them to have a more human face.
The brand economy is a marketplace where ideas connect people to value for money, whether in the form of a service or a product. It’s an economy which to a large extent is dominated by privately owned corporations sourcing the traditional bouquet of services in Marketing, Advertising and Design in order to secure the loyalties of consumers. But there’s a noticeable shift in power. We’re in the era of responsible business where the sustainable development agenda is becoming more important in business practice and organisational management. And big brands are facing challenges from newcomers that are building brands on the premise of social impact and communal resonance.
Sustainability is a trend that’s not going to go away anytime soon. Many people still think that sustainability only means going ‘green’. Now when the word sustainability comes to mind you may think of climate change and carbon footprints and all the fancy scientific jargon. But if you give it more thought, you may find it can also expand a little further. It’s about preservation, heritage, legacy and succession planning to name a few. What do all these have in common? They are essentially about generational impact. It’s about what this generation does (can and must do) so that the next generation is in a position of strength. If you doubt it, think on the most recent trends of ethical branding and conscious consumerism shaping the world. Corporates may be the major brand custodians, but the real ownership lies in the hands of the consumers and they are beginning to shift focus to brand custodians that are more attuned to their lived experiences. Brands need to embrace the future of a human economy.
But organisations are faced with the challenge of navigating what sustainability means to them and how to craft that into practical designs and strategies that align brand with purpose, innovation and social impact. Businesses are increasingly aligning corporate strategy to the Sustainable Development Goals. They need to balance and manage the collective efforts of branding to increase productivity and profitability. Sustainability trends such as climate change, social responsibility, global connectedness and personal wellbeing are steering brands that aspire to be business assets of the future. People are at the heart of it all and a human economy ultimately requires us to re-imagine what branding means in the advancement of sustainability and wellbeing.