Wally Olins on provenance branding

Place branding

Wally Olins in conversation with Debbie Millman, in her new book ‘Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits’.

Q: What do you anticipate for the future of brands and branding in upcoming years?

A: One of the things that seems increasingly important is brands from cultures that we didn’t take seriously a couple of years ago. I’m particularly talking about India, China and Brazil-the BRICs.

Increasingly, we will see brands, or, if you like, cultural phenomena, coming from countries that previously we did not take seriously. Just as the West dominates the world politically, so it dominated the world culturally until very recently. And as the political hegemony of the West shrinks, we will see the emergence of major brands from China, India, Brazil and so forth. I am not saying that is good or bad. It might mean more choice, which can be a bit confusing.

The second thing that is going to happen is a phenomenon relating to more and more places becoming the equivalent of city states, like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, and so on.

With more and more of these small countries around, we are going to have an accretion of provenance branding – of the brand as a manifestation of place and of ‘where I come from’.

Just because the world is becoming more global does not mean that individual citizen countries are going to accept that they don’t have any personality. The tide of globalisation is going to lead to an increasing attempt to shriek and scream, ‘Look and me – remember who I am!’…

Globalisation and place branding are not contradictory. They are not mutually exclusive. They actually encourage each other. When you move in one direction, you get another move in a contrary direction.