Brands and their Future

23 Jun,2016


By A Correspondent


The question about future of brands has been doing the rounds for quite some time. Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever, tried to explore the future of brands in a world where information and experience eclipse ownership as the key to growth at Cannes Lion 2016.


“Brands! Love them or hate them, they are an integral part of our lives,” was Weed’s opening statement for the session ‘The Future of Brands’ hosted by Unilever. But what exactly is the future of brands in this dynamic, complex and ever changing world? Weed tried to answer this question in his a little over 30 minutes session.


“I believe the future of brands is best represented by i to the power n,” continued Weed but was quick to add that it is not going to be a math lesson. This equation, in the context of brands, signifies what is going on in this technology driven world. So, i equals individuals, influencers and impacts. He explained each of them one by one.


Said Weed, “With technological advancement, now, we can market to individuals. We have gone from mass marketing to massive customisation.” So, marketing is about engaging individuals. “From Unilever’s perspective, we want to build a relationship with a billion brands- a billion people around the world,” he continued.


Weed emphasised that as much as we have to do work globally, we must engage people locally as well. The combination of the two, according to Weed, is ‘magic’ done by technology. He gave an example of the Axe ad which showed the changing modern man. It was a good example of connecting with individuals. Weed urged brands to use data about individuals to connect with them.


Influencers do play an important role in building a brand. In this part, Weed explained the changing face of influencers. The re-launch of the ice cream Magnum double was used as an example to explore the role of influencers. Kendell Jenner was used as an influencer to promote and magnify the brand. Twitter as a tool for influence was also lauded by Weed. “We need to think about influencers more as we build a brand,” he said


While explaining impact he looked at it from three different points- campaigning brands, challenging stereotypes and what consumers want. “In some ways they say campaigning brands is the right thing to do but I think we should campaign brands which make good economic sense,” said Weed. Unilever’s climate change video was showed as an example to prove this.  Addressing the audience about challenging stereotypes, Weed focused on how women are portrayed. According to a research done by his organisation, 80% women do not identify with most of the ads. “We can create better advertising, if we create progressive advertising,” he said. Weed said, “We found 54% of people would buy a product if they find it socially and environmentally sustainable,” while speaking about consumer needs. Focusing on consumers wants is extremely important for brands.


The fact that brands can take their products to endless number of people with the help of technology is quite commendable. “With all that is going on in technology, consumers have been ahead of marketers,” said Weed. So, using these ‘i’s multiple ways and times, brands can be successful and that is the future of brands, Weed concluded.


Meanwhile, on the awards circuit, there were no golds added to the kitty.  In Media Lions, Rediffusion Y&R bagged a silver for Dipper Condoms and a bronze went to PHD for Hindustan Unilever’s Wheel detergent. BBDO India picked another metal – albeit a bronzed one – in Cyber Lions for its Ariel “ShareTheLoad campaign.


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