Why are brands unifying?
Often misquoted as Charles Darwin, the quote above is actually the words of Leon C. Megginson, Professor of Management and Marketing at Louisiana University in 1963. Misquoted or not, this is particularly relevant when we consider changes happening in the world of branding today. Historically, brands have been conscious of the need to adapt to change. However, today’s business context means change is simply a strategic imperative – brands that are more agile will win; those that aren’t, will fail. Much has been written about the notions of strategic and organisational agility – McKinsey & Company have demonstrated the more agile an organisation or brand is, the greater their ability to compete (at scale) in turbulent markets. This agility though, must sit on a foundation of stability too. The reason agility, or the ability to manage change, is so important to brand leaders is because of the seismic shifts happening outside their organisations.
The World Economic Forum’s Fourth Industrial Revolution has done a wonderful job of synthesising the challenges that underline business today. A technological and societal revolution is happening, meaning brand leaders’ working context is unpredictable, more volatile and ultimately far more competitive. Given competitive advantage is temporary, a brand leaders’ emphasis must be on real-time adjustment and experimentation, rather than an absolute focus on the long-term. Intangible assets have grown from filling 20% of corporate balance sheets to 80% in recent years. This means that leadership, intellectual capital, brand and other intangibles are increasingly driving organisational and financial value.
This feature of brand means that it must be managed in a way that drives competitive advantage. Cascade this down into brand architecture and internal brand operations and we’re convinced that unification can unlock new value – with organisations achieving new levels of synergy, optimisation and scale in their branding. But what would unification even mean to a brand? What value would it unlock? How would a brand begin the unification process? In the guide, we shine a light on the megatrends and market forces impacting brands and dissect both the opportunities and considerations that leaders need to account for. We draw on the experience of executives who have already unified and unpick how unification is acting as a mechanism for competitive advantage. Finally, we detail the starting point for brands considering a change.