Emerging brand wisdom

Guy Murphy

Developing markets can teach us how to engage with brands in 'brand play' as an antidote to western brand-weariness

I'm sure many planners have recently wished they were working in a time gone by. A time when consumers were easier to understand (and influence), the media marketplace was simpler, there were fewer markets to consider and clients were more willing to give agencies power over the breadth of their brand activities. No doubt there is complexity now that our forefathers didn't face but, as Jeremy Bullmore so eloquently points out, it wasn't as if people 'back then' would simply go out and buy a product on a charming advertisement's say-so. We are in danger of fearing the situation we think we're in, leaving us peering myopically through our nostalgia-tinted spectacles.

I want to take a step back and look at a serious, but largely unseen, threat to brands. As planners, our role is to imagine new futures for brands. I will argue that these futures shouldn't be imagined from within the fear of growing complexity and potential for error, but with a view to building brands that excite people. To do this, we should look to planning across the globe, and start to actively embrace elements of the developing markets' culture of brand-building. Their's is an outlook that can help to liberate us, and is a reason for optimism. Brands need to be original and different; let's look for originality and difference in a world of 'brand play'.