Nature of Business radio, created and hosted by Chrissy Coughlin, is a weekly show on business and environment.
My conversation this week focused on branding and its evolution in this new and very different economy. And I was fortunate to be having this conversation with one of the more insightful branding souls out there, Marc Stoiber.
A regular contributor to GreenBiz.com, Marc also runs his own consultancy helping companies to, as he coins it, "create future-proof brands." We talked about his very interesting career trajectory, his personal evolution into the world of sustainability along with the unique perspective he brings to it, and finally, what he feels companies both need to pay attention to and let go of to survive down the road.
Marc is a marketer. And he found out early on that you cannot convince people of something by constantly harping on the problem - something he saw as pervasive in the industry.
Using Unilever and Nike as examples, he declares that the most enlightened companies have actually leapfrogged past the green brand. These companies are building green into their projects but not muddying the waters by saying it's a green shoe or green soap.
Their products, rather, are simply built into the brand and they are seeding the message through third party outlets such as bloggers and, well, radio shows. By doing this, companies get the word out and they get green cred without introducing green into the brand where, in the majority of cases, as Marc puts it, "green isn't really part of the brand DNA."
This brings us to future-proof brands. While reflecting, Marc saw something bigger than green, something bigger than simply the conventional brand, and something bigger than the innovation that is sitting there.
Future-proof brands take it several steps further. It includes sustainability and innovation (big and world-changing innovation); but also adds good design, whereby people understand it across cultures; deep insight of companies (helping set companies up for the next 50 years), and social interaction, creating brands like fishbowls, where companies and customers create feedback loops of ideas and inspiration. As he puts it, "We are living in time financial chaos, environmental chaos, information chaos, and finally a time of cultural chaos. People are scared and don't know where to turn. So I asked myself how could I help create brands that like a salmon, swim upstream effortlessly in this sea of chaos."
Good news: Despite the whirling dervish of chaos out there, Marc is excited about the future and sees this time as incredibly dynamic. Half of the top 100 companies out there haven't yet effectively lined up their brand message with their sustainability actions so there is ample opportunity out there for smart people who can help.
It's a big puzzle and people who figure out how to look at whole system are going to do extremely well in the future. And, as he states, creativity is assuming its rightful place at the top of the food change. That brings a smile to my face for sure.
George Papoulias edited this podcast.