The Future Of The Business Of Branding

While the seeming life of a brand has shrunk, the need for premium branding still remains. And while elements of the business have changed, for example it takes far less time to create a brand, the need for a good brand and good identity remains. In the course of this conversation, Jane Geraghty (CEO, Landor) and Peter Knapp (Chairman & CCO, Landor) sort of make the case for their optimism in this view.

 

Anant Rangaswami: So to begin with what is the future of your business?

Jane Geraghty: Well I mean I am filled with optimism about the branding business. I think that in a world where so many companies are being disrupted by technology and so many brand experiences have the opportunity to be enhanced by technology. The real battle ground now comes down to how you differentiate that technology which is ultimately the brand business, the business that we have always been in. So I feel as though the opportunities right now are amazingly exciting and the future is incredibly bright.

Anant Rangaswami: So Peter you turned the clock back 20 years and people would come to Landor and ask for identity. And at the end of a year or whatever you gave them a big fat manual that was it. It’s changed dramatically hasn’t it?

Peter Knapp: It has, and I think what we are seeing now is the brands really are alive. They need to be navigating every day, every week, every month and changing to suit commercial context that they are in. So rather than it be a manual that you would refer to for 5 or 10 years, I think now the art of branding is to be agile and to be responsive.

Anant Rangaswami: So Jane when we look at a brand like Uber or a brand like Airbnb I hesitate to call them brands. Simply because I grew up thinking a brand would give me consistency and would be defined and predictable and so on and so forth. And all these are not. Are they brands or are they businesses?

Jane Geraghty: I think they’re more than brands. I think as Peter says, I think agility is key. And I think something like Airbnb, that puts a powerful proposition to the consumer that they sign up to. And ultimately that means it’s a relevant brand. So I think you know these are brands that the more traditional brands should learn from. I mean one of the things that we talk a lot about in this modern multi-channel world, a brand needs to be coherent but not necessarily consistent. And I think that the brands like Airbnb and Uber have achieved that.

Anant Rangaswami: So earlier again Peter sticking to what I said earlier, you finished your task by handing over a manual and you raised your invoice, you got a cheque. But from what you are saying with this agility bit are we going to see consultants like you working with brands on a continuous basis, perhaps on a retainer, one big lump sum then give me a bill every month. Is that going to be what it is?

Peter Knapp: I think it’s absolutely going in that direction. And the industry needs to react. Change the formula, change the game because we are seeing the commercial world changer faster and faster, more than ever so now. So it would be foolish to think that a formula that worked 10, 15, 20 years ago would be appropriate for the disruptive nature of the commercial world today. So I think there has to be a way of making sure that the brands constantly maintain relevance to a customer base. Our customer bases are looking at thousands of brands every day, making different choices all the time. So for the brands that we work with, the really important thing is making sure that they maintain the differentiation as Jane said but also they maintain their relevance. Almost on a daily or a weekly or a monthly basis.

Jane Geraghty: Yes. It is far less you know beginning middle and here is your brand bible, off you go. And it much more about using real time data, insights and analytics, to inform what the next intervention could be the joy of technology. There are so many ways that a brand can connect with its audience using that data to continue to tell that brand story in multiple different ways. So we are certainly seeing clients which makes me very happy staying with us for the duration.

Anant Rangaswami: Do you have to rewire your own company and give different kinds of skillsets?

Jane Geraghty: Yes I think we are going through a continue…I mean Landor to be honest we’ve always had quite a sort of pioneering spirit. We were the first company really to discover modern branding I suppose. So we are always in a state of reinvention. But I think today’s opportunities have most certainly informed and evolved shaped to Landor. One of the fastest growing practices that we have right now insights and analytics for all the reasons that I just said. We can continually monitor the strength of a brand. We can quantify the value of a brand. We can predict the outcomes of particular brand activities. These are hugely valuable things for clients today. They really want to know what the role of brand is and how it can help them propel their business. So we are operating now in a business of brand and growth. That is really what we are in the business of. And that does require new skills. And from a creative perspective we have certainly broadened the skill sets. Motion is more important now I suspect than it has been. So we have a large motion design team. You’ve asked me why. I think there is….

Anant Rangaswami: So who do you compete with now?

Jane Geraghty: It is, it is broad. I mean on the one hand we are competing with consultancies. The insights and analytics capabilities. The ability to size the market through the lens of brands. That has been something that the traditional consultancies have been owning. But they haven’t got the brand lens. So on the one hand we are competing over here and as we evolve and expand our creative capabilities, you could argue that we are competing more with traditional communications agencies. So you know it is rapidly changing.

This interview first appeared on www.readytomelt.com.

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