The Apocalypse is bad for business

coming soon, by Digital Trash on Flickr

Coming Soon, by Digital Trash on Flickr

(The following post was originally published on Marketing Magazine’s Marketing Blogged blog. It has also been posted on Linguabrand’s Science and Learning section, among a highly flattering group. This is a delayed cross-posting.)

Expanding the definition and remit of sustainable marketing
When initially introduced to c-suites and boards, the allure of sustainability was that it made a certain brutal business common sense. Performance driven business leaders don’t have to love trees to understand that ignoring environmental impact will eventually kill their business: Materials and fuels will get more expensive, regulations will bear down on them and other forms of public scrutiny will become increasingly unforgiving.

Over the years, the remit of business sustainability has expanded from environmental responsibility to include other economic, social and almost any other aspect of responsible long-term resource management and social stewardship.

However, sustainable marketing has so far remained focused on the environmental aspect. It largely stands for paper sources, non-toxic inks, recycling, etc.

This is an oversight as it’s clear a large part of marketing’s impact on our society is not physical. I would like to challenge this narrow view of sustainable marketing by suggesting that just like businesses increasingly look beyond the environmental impact of resource management, marketing should do the same.

The two new elements I would like to introduce into the definition of sustainable marketing are the cognitive and the cultural aspects. Continue reading

Marketing Plots: the search for meaning trap (and New Year’s resolutions)

Twisted Worlds by Jeff Kubina

Twisted Worlds by Jeff Kubina

February is here, and we can hear the gentle pop of New Year’s resolutions expiring all around us. Like soap bubbles that once were full of hope, reflecting a better future, many of our resolutions are now reduced to a moist residue on the harsh pavement of reality.

It’s no surprise that coming up with resolutions is much easier than keeping them. A 2007 study by Richard Wisemen from the University of Bristol showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, even though over 50% felt confident they will succeed at the point of making their resolution.

New Year’s resolutions are commonly articulated as objectives, and just like business objectives, common reasons for failure can include lack of strategy, inconsistent implementation, lack of stakeholder engagement and cultural fixations. But there’s one pattern of failure I’d like to point out: the search for meaning trap.

When we set ambitious change-orientated goals, we are engaging with our definition of purpose. We are articulating various “happy ending” objectives and laying out early chapters for new, life-changing, narratives. In essence, defining resolutions is one of the ways we explore the meaning of our lives.

Similarly, defining business objectives is an activity intertwined with the organisational search for meaning. When we define business objectives we are exploring the purpose of our organisation and redefining a vision of our company’s future. The more critical the objectives are, the deeper we will have to engage with the fundamental questions about our brand. We will discover that in order to make significant changes to the composite and priorities of objectives, we have to engage with the question of who we really are as a company. That’s why in strategic processes you will find that terms like mission, vision, purpose, values, brand story, personality and other terms suggesting deep meaning tend to connect, raising further complexities and challenges.

This is the point where the search for meaning trap kicks in.

Continue reading

5 Principles for the Agency of the Future

Messiness by RI Pizzo This post is a "sound bite version" of a more elaborate piece, based on a talk titled "Emerging practices in Branding".

This blog has been dormant for a while, and I expect it will stay low frequency. I still hope this will get some attention, as it summarises so much of my work and thoughts of the last years. Not a very web-like time-scale, I guess…

On September 25th, I gave a talk at the Strategic Branding forum in Romania. I was asked to speak about "The Future of Branding". I used the opportunity to bring together some of Brandinstinct’s and my ideas about how branding should be practiced. This is stuff that has been dominant in the way my team(s) and me do things over the last couple of years. These are also trends I recognise increasingly among leading members of the creative industry.

The full article deals with 5 important aspects of branding work (methodology, relationship, culture, identity and engagement) and, "to put money where my mouth is", uses examples from some of the Brandinstinct projects I managed (From the projects used, the Sohar project is the only one I didn’t lead.). In this short version, I’ve left the examples out and focused on summarising the principles.

Continue reading