Are we still relevant?

India IAA

This past weekend I had the opportunity to share with over 1000 delegates at India’s IAA Silver Jubilee Summit in Kochin, India, (theme: “What’s coming next”) our views on what disruption means for branding.

Indeed, disruption is also well present in what will be in several years the most populated country in the world. From the many times the word “disruption” was mentioned at the Summit, it was a proof to our argument that it has become completely “bastardized”. Everything and everyone is either disrupting or being disrupted. Everyone is trying to stay ahead of being disrupted, so as not being left behind; becoming the “old”. Consequently, often, brands want to change for the sake of changing without a clear vision on what actually they are trying to accomplish. In this context, dealing with “disruption” has become something vague and often too far taken from a brand’s reality.

Our view is that it is far more actionable in a marketer’s daily brand life to focus on relevance. Are your brands’ products and services relevant to the consumers, markets and audiences they are intended for? That is the key question. At the end of the day, disruption occurs when there is a misalignment between people’s needs and lives and the solutions brands propose to address them; otherwise said, when what you offer has become irrelevant to your customers. The key (and the success) for brands is to identify where and how this equation can be brought back into alignment.

To some extend this has always been the case. What has changed is that people´s needs evolve much faster now than before, forcing brands to re-evaluate not only their “relevance” but also their entire DNA at a much higher pace. In a professional field where brands were historically built and managed on the basis of a solid ground, such a new operating environment creates a dilemma. Has branding become too static nowadays? Do we need to develop new methodologies and systems that allow transforming brands at a much higher speed? We definitely believe that branding will be about creating a “backbone” in a brand’s continuous process of transformation that enables businesses the fluidity to move, as well as the cohesion to maintain their sense of identity. How does that “backbone” look like? Work in progress.