Brands that connect, inspire action and change behaviour

Brands that connect, inspire action and change behaviour

By Owen Hughes


In this report from AMA conference 2013, Owen Hughes from Wolff Olins outlines why Wolff Olins believe that action will become as powerful as currency in the new economic landscape.

At Wolff Olins we 'do brand' and in a nutshell we believe that brand is not your name, your logo, your slogan, your advertising campaign or your marketing activities. At its simplest we believe that brand is:

  • your purpose - why you exist in the world
  • the way that all your different stakeholders experience that

That's the way that we approach it. We are fortunate enough to work with a range of interesting organisations around the world from our first client back in the 1960s, Apple Records, to Google and big commercial organisations from a range of sectors such as Unilever and through to cultural events like London 2012. With all those clients what we aim to do is to work with them to reinvent and transform what they do and redefine the markets that they operate in - really to 'change the game'.

I guess that some of you are now thinking that I'm going to simply talk about Tate or big commercial organisations with seven-figure marketing budgets. I do understand how arts and culture funding has been affected by the economic downturn and by government policy, even if the last budget wasn't quite as bad as it might have been. So, I'm going to try very hard to make what I'm going to talk about as useful as it can be to you. And, in fact, I would argue that there has never been a better time to compete if you are small. And the reason why, is this:

'Kodak filed for bankruptcy while Instagram was bought by Facebook for $1 billion. Airbnb is now filling more nights than Hilton Hotels. The reality is this: business ideas from the least expected players and angles will disrupt your brand faster than advertising can save it.' Rei Inamoto, AKQA

Now I think we could usefully read conventional marketing for advertising there and who he's talking to in this quote is the Hiltons and Kodaks of this world. What he's saying is that you can't rely on your big traditional advertising budgets anymore. You are vulnerable to smaller, nimbler competitors with more innovative ideas and a less conventional approach towards what we know as marketing. Being small is no barrier to success if you have the appetite to take those risks and if you have the appetite to do things a bit differently - to think 'new'.

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Audience development Brand
Resource type: | Published: 2014