The seven new rules for brand leadership

“The US tax system needs an overhaul.” “A policy rethink could control the sub Saharan population boom.” “The World Bank’s leadership selection process no longer reflects today’s sources of innovation and economic growth.” These are some of the sound bites from recent press.  Clearly there’s an underlying theme - a call for reform.  At Onesixtyfourth, we found this especially interesting given the results from one of our recent CultureQ studies. We conducted the study with 763 news-engaged and earlier technology adopter Millennials and Baby Boomers in the US and UK.  Our original intent was to understand how attitudes were shifting as the old year turned into a new one.  What emerged from participants’ responses, however, was a far more profound perspective on our evolving social climate and the new rules for brand leadership. It’s time for the role that brands play in society to shift The over-riding message from participants – it’s time for the role that brands play in society to shift.  Unlike in the past, however, Madison Avenue and marketers are not driving this change.  Consumers, in other words people themselves, are appealing to brands to acknowledge the social significance they have and take on the role governments and political leaders are no longer effectively fulfilling. They are asking brands to use their influence, know-how and power to help shape a better future. 7 New Rules for Brand Leadership So, what are the new rules for brand leadership? Rule 1. Be Visionary: engage people through a clear view on how you inspire every day life. Rule 2. Be Courageous: take considered risks that propel society forward and...

Arc’teryx Girl

Since the beginning of time (my time) I’ve been a skier. Any winter that did not involve skiing is pre-memory for me.  So, I’ve pretty much seen it all – in ski gear that is. Leather ski boots, to plastic rear entry, to my new Lange ‘slippers’ with Sure Foot liners. And while I once bragged about the length and stiffness of my skis, today it’s all about shape and girth. Then there’re the clothes, from my hand-me-down matching orange jacket and pants to my blue stretch pants with padded knees (so cool) to my back-country one-piece and now everything Gore-Tex. Yes, I’ve done my share to keep the ski industry afloat. And while I’ve been a part of this microcosm of consumerism for (ahem) 39 years, I was recently moved by how brand prolific it is. Recently while in Whistler (my mountain of choice), as if coming out of a dream, I suddenly noticed, how surrounded I was by brands. Brand names and labels covered me and my fellow ski buddies from head to toe. So I decided to count… brands that is. In a gondola lift of 4 people no less than 28 brand names were visible to me. Here goes. Helmets: Giro, Bern, Smith, POC. Goggles:  Smith, Oakley, Bolle, Carrera. Neck Warmer: REI. Jackets: Helly Hansen, Arc’teryx, Descente, Columbia. Ski cam: Sony. Gloves: Dakine, Marmot, Outdoor Research, Black Diamond. Pants: North Face, Burton, Hard Wear. Boots: Tecnica, Lange, Burton, Rossignol. Poles: Leki, Scott, Dynastar. Oh and throw in a few ‘Gore-Tex’ labels on top. Yes, there were only four of us in that gondola… and no,...

Good citizenship: the new essential for sustaining brand leadership

Transparency. Supplier relationships. Social responsibility. Privacy. These terms have all been bouncing about a lot lately whether it be in conjunction with Apple, BP, Google or just general conversation.  And because of that, few people have been surprised that we’ve become more focused on brands as social reformers and been speaking more about brands advocating on behalf of their customers over the past two months.  What has startled several of our clients, however, has been the fact that we didn’t purposefully set out to deliver this message when we fielded our quantitative research in conjunction with CultureQ this past December.  The intent of our study was to get a broad understanding of general sentiment for 2012 - of Baby Boomers’ and Millennials’ aspirations and dreams to see how far apart they were and how similar and different they were between the US and UK.  We had no idea when we began to synthesise the results with our on-going conversations with Millennials that the learning would take us to this exciting, new place.  With faith in government and political leadership low, people are looking for brands to recognise their broadening social significance and with that take on some of the responsibilities for the future of humanity. So, with this in mind, and in response to several requests, we’d like to share our Brand Citizenship Quotient from  our recently released CultureQ report with you here. Brand Citizenship Quotient Index (based on top brands named as leaders)                         **Smaller or very small sample sizes ***No mentions for good or bad citizenship...

Kony 2012! Move Me

KONY 2012 has moved me – 10 minutes into the video, www.kony2012.com I’d pledged some funds and forwarded the site to my database of friends.  I like to consider myself an ‘aware’ citizen and I’m familiar with Kony’s heinous crimes, but this video had me digging deeper and learning more. I can’t imagine that anyone in North America, at least, has been left untouched by now. The online movement moved into the mainstream press two nights ago and with this the scrutiny of the pundits as they take a magnifying glass to the purpose and tactics of Invisible Children and the video projecting its message.  In this ‘age of transparency’ nonprofits sit alongside private companies in their glass houses.  We expect full disclosure. This is a highly sensitive political issue and when lives are at stake it is critical to look at all sides.  I agree with much of what I’ve been reading.  Clearly this is a complicated situation, and perhaps some of the facts have been glossed over.  And yes corruption in the region adds huge complexities to handling the dismantling of Joseph Kony. Invisible Children can’t un-kidnap these children, breathe life back into their parents, de-maim them or give them back their childhoods. But they can bring light to a severe situation that is unknown to most; I am surprised by how few of my friends and colleagues were aware of this situation. I believe this movement is the type that can instill a passion in us.  That it can motivate us to use our voices to move governments to change a situation that does not have...

Brand Baby: Gen Now – Artists & Curators

Gen Y are rapidly becoming the generation equivalent of Apple.  They are fascinating and we admire them; however, there’s no shortage of opinion about them.  As the knowledge market about Gen Y grows more saturated, attention is turning to the next generation, Gen Z.  Those born between the years 1996 and 2010.  The youngest are barely two, yet can identify the Golden Arches whilst blindfolded, and as a mom of three Gen Zers I’ve had direct experience, although it hasn’t been through a controlled experiment…. This young generation is significant because they’re big in number (287m in India, 215m in China and 45m in the US, source: Grail Research) and, despite some being barely out of diapers, they’re clued up, persuasive consumers from the start.  They influence family brand choices from electronics to cars: 31% of US children, aged between 6-12, wanted an iPad over any other electronic device for Christmas in 2010; followed by a computer (29%) and an iPod touch (29%) (Grail Research). If women buy houses, car makers recognize kids now buy family cars.  Toyota. http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/kids/index.html. And then there’s Volkswagen’s ad from 2011 -  the kid uses the “force” when he discovers a new Passat in his driveway: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R55e-uHQna0 Apparently there’s no shortage of words and phrases engineered to capture their unique generational essence. A Google search revealed - we first called them Gen V (for virtual).  Then there’s Generation M (for multi-tasking), Generation C (for the connected generation), the Net generation, the Internet Generation and Digital Natives – 73% are on a social network and 63% are online daily (Grail Research).  Pretty remarkable statistics considering...

Brands: act like a good person and you’ll be viewed as a good corporate citizen

At Onesixtyfourth, we’ve been talking a lot about the ability for brands to forge new attitudes regarding social responsibility. That a true leadership brand will tend to transcend the preconceived notions surrounding their industry, despite the surrounding narratives – many of which are often extreme generalizations, but have for some reason been cemented into the psyche of society at large. For example, oil companies pollute, banks are greedy, and clothing companies sometimes take unfair advantage of cheap labor. While these statements are of course tremendously opinionated and sometimes unfounded, it is not always easy to shake these labels. In order to do so, brands will oftentimes directly attack the source in order to change their image – they will target in on the source of criticism, and launch a campaign to counteract that criticism by excelling in exactly what they were criticized for not doing in the first place. (Think BP’s massive green washing campaign following the 2010 oil spill, or Dominos “mea culpa” strategy.) Both of these crusades essentially said, “Ok fine. We really messed up, so were going to do everything to clean up our mess. We won’t sleep if we have to.” While it’s always wise to clean up a mess, the fact remains that these brands become best known for these specific actions. And, the means of turning these initiatives into lasting, positive brand equity remains less clear. Sure BP cleaned up, but was the intention genuine? Did they truly realize the error of their ways, or did they clean up simply because there was no other option? Was cleaning up the only means of...
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