14 Aug 2018

Applying creativity to solve brand challenges

Challenges that brands face today, how they should tackle digital transformation and the importance of creativity for organic growth.

Interview with Jim Prior, Global CEO

What’s your view on how brands have evolved over time?

The definition of brand is constantly changing. Brands have always been important to people because brands are created as a result of the experiences that people have of organisations, services or products. Experiences are increasingly complex and are not only formed through products, services and people, but through the digital world as well.  So brands are becoming increasingly difficult to control, it’s becoming more and more difficult for organisations to create them in their entirety. That’s why our role is more relevant in terms of how we go about managing brand, creating guidelines for how a brand behaves, defining what makes it different from others and unique in its own right. It’s about knowing how to play across all the different elements of brand experience.

Aligning all these elements, keeping a brand interesting and relevant, connecting it to customer needs – which are also changing all the time – is the challenge. And that’s our exciting and stimulating role, knowing how to connect it all and give it meaning.

I think we’re also about seeing and defining the role brands have in the world and how they impact society. Society changes and people have greater expectations of how companies behave. Part of what we do is help to align this behaviour, in a way that goes beyond selling products and services, to helping companies deliver greater value to the world around them.

Do brands have a big responsibility in society?

Yes, I believe they do. If you work for a big organisation you personally have the responsibility to contribute to the world, and the way you do that is through the creation of a brand that forms a part of people’s lives. I think this is a really interesting question: in what ways can brands contribute to people’s lives? Some brands contribute because they offer a job, others contribute because they go beyond being a product and actually help to improve people’s lives or help to solve problems that exist in the world.

How important is the creativity for brand growth in this process?

I think it’s very important. Creativity is what differentiates one brand, product or service from another. Nowadays everyone has access to the same information and you can find out whatever you want to know, quickly and for free. So if you want to be different and excel and add value to the world, as a business you have to find something more, something new, something others don’t have and this – almost by definition – is creativity.

Creativity for me is the key to creating propositions that are different and valuable in the world. The world is full of big problems. We need creativity to solve them. Conventional thinking hasn’t resolved all these issues, so it’s really important on a lot of levels. It’s creativity that attracts people and is the difference between something that works and something that doesn’t.

How are brands facing digital transformation? How can they achieve growth as a result of it?

Digital transformation is a reality for all businesses and brands. No-one can avoid it. The challenge is in how brands use it to their advantage. A large part of the work we’re doing is to do with tackling the process of digital transformation. We help brands to define what makes them unique, and what aspects of digital transformation they can own.

Talk to me about how you help brands in this new context. What are the main challenges they face?

Everything is about differentiating yourself, how you rise up above the rest. It’s easy to start a business and secure a profit, but it’s very difficult to differentiate yourself – so that’s where we come in. We help brands grow, and that’s what’s really exciting, because if someone has a great idea this can become a business overnight. If you think about the last few years, lots of companies have gone from being almost nothing to big global players. Twenty years ago, Google didn’t exist, Apple had just started out, Facebook was created ten years ago, Uber, Airbnb, Tesla…and the numbers keep going up. These are ideas that have delivered immense social value, often because they respond to the needs that people have, or even because they create needs that people didn’t realise they had before those companies existed. Our challenge is how to make those great ideas rise above competitors and to help them succeed.