Competitive Foresight


Why are so many saying branding is dead as a growth strategy? Is it true? If not, what is branding’s current power? Its future potential? It was my pleasure to address all of these last week with a great MBA class at the University of Wisconsin Madison. The answers (complete with reams of data-based evidence across categories and countries around the world) come from my recently completed two-year study on The Future of Branding.  Among my 11 findings:

  1. Pronouncements of the irrelevance or death of branding are premature. Rather…

  2. Ignorance and naïveté about branding are widespread which is one reason so many companies find they are not growing sales and margin year over year as much as they’d like. Yet they’re wrong to conclude the cause is a decline in branding’s power or efficacy. More likely the cause is a misunderstanding and malpractice of branding. After all…

  3. Nothing else can do what branding can, because the way it impacts decision-making (including de-sensitizing people to price) is innate in us all.

  4. Many boards of directors, C-suites and investors are actually thwarting the very growth they demand of their marketing teams. 

For example:

  • Executives demand of a CMO that, within12-18 months of hiring, he or she will deliver a level of growth or margin improvement which it actually takes more than 12-18 months to cultivate. It takes even more time to measure it as actually having happened. So when the KPIs aren’t there in 12-18 months, the executives dismiss the CMO and hire a successor expecting him or her to perform under the same impossible timeframe.

  • In other words, by not understanding what it truly means to brand in a way that impacts decision making and financial benefits (Findings # 2 and 3 above), many boards, C-Suites and investors inadvertently undercut branding’s impact at every turn: Their demands for proof of performance in the short term, a tendency to under-budget brand investment and every few months hire a new CMO (with a new approach) all just serve to perpetuate disappointing growth. (Ouch…)

Given the above, what is the future of branding over the next 3-10 years? Insight and foresight (informed by my study, experience and the Lindsay Foresight & Stratagem Think Tank) reveal some twists and turns likely to surprise you.  I’ll write more about them (and other study findings) later. (If you don’t want to miss them, be sure to follow me on LinkedIn).

#futureofbranding #strategicforesight #insight #branding