Making the most of your brand ideas

Developing brands that are fit for the future

One of the Solar Impulse aeroplanes in flight

Managing a brand in the rapidly changing landscape that is today’s modern world can be quite a challenge. The ever evolving digital world poses new touchpoints and consumer challenges at what can feel like a constant pace.

On Thursday 19th February at the Department for Work and Pensions in London, UK, Michael Pietig, group vice president of ABB, and Simon Williams, chief growth officer at Futurebrand, shared their insights and experience in managing brand with other communication industry professionals at an event hosted by the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD).


Michael Pietig discussing the opportunities that the Solar Impluse project creates






The afternoon began with Michael Pietig and a glimpse at the incredibly inspiring Solar Impulse Project. Michael is currently head of ABB Solar Impulse Alliance, and works alongside the team who are currently working towards the first ever solar powered round the world flight. ABB are an official partner of the Solar Impulse team and have been working to guarantee the build of the first two aeroplanes. As a global leader in power and automation technologies, collaborating on a project as ground breaking as Solar Impulse is an excellent opportunity for ABB to truly explore their key brand values; “Power and productivity for a better world”.

 Through their involvement with Solar Impulse, ABB have been able to create opportunities to engage with people all around the world as well as with their own employees. During the development of the aircraft, test missions were conducted in Europe, Morocco and the USA. Each flight landing gave the team an excellent chance to engage with local universities, schools, governments, NGO’s and people. The development and use of clean energy is a crucial topic in need of more discussion and attention, and what better way to prove that there are alternative options for the future, and people and companies with the capability to explore these options, than the demonstration of a project that has already achieved results that were very recently unthinkable.

The Solar Impulse project will launch its first flight from Abu Dhabi in March this year and begin its record breaking solar powered journey around the world.


Simon Williams discussing the future of brand







After a short refreshment break, Simon Williams, chief growth officer at Futurebrand took to the podium and provided the group with insight into the evolving brand management landscape. Simon began by discussing the future of brands, how they “will rise and fall at an accelerated pace” and how brand experiences and even their identities will be subject to the interactions of consumers who wish to break free from brands who maintain strict consistency. Simon went on to discuss how brands no longer have anywhere to hide, and the expectation will soon become for there to be constant access to any and all channels. All of these points were raised under the assumption that this is where brands are heading, until Simon then turned the tables and stated that these are the changes that brands need to acknowledge and tackle now.

The days of mass broadcasting, limited choices and the ability to bury bad news are over. Branding has changed and now brands need to take on board fresh ideas and approaches for their development. No longer can a brand simply redesign their visual identity and patch over the old identity and any associations it was attributed to.

The explosion of the digital world has made the landscape much more fragmented and complex, and given the consumer multiple methods of discussion and interaction, but this also means that brands have access to a wealth of rich consumer data. Simon continued to discuss how the traditional structure of a company’s branding executives aren’t prepared to handle this new pool of data and there is a need for companies to restructure in order to capitalise on this information and gain valuable insight into what this data can do for a brand. With this fresh, “real” data, the guesswork involved with planning can be removed and development can be based on facts, leading to stronger growth.

The inspirational and informative afternoon was rounded off with a Q&A session where the group could pose any questions to the speakers and discuss any of the topics from the day.

  “The time for the brand-driven business has well and truly arrived.”

When a brand has a strong core idea that people can connect with, they are able to mould that brand into what they need it to be, which in turn creates an even stronger bond. When this is achieved, there are no limits to what a brand can be to the people who take it as part of their lives. Once an idea has been created brands should take any chance they have to collaborate with both their consumers and employees to make the most of what their brand has to offer and to explore any opportunity to build it further. There are numerous tools available for brand to use to do this, and in turn many ways to quantify the results, giving brands a chance to accurately improve and evolve in time with the needs of their consumers.

Simon ended on a note of encouragement, simply stating that “when we embrace rich data and use it to inform new tools for brand development, we can develop brands that are fit for the future – fit for now.”

Marc Cloosterman

Marc is head of VIM Group, which specialises in delivering brands consistently around the world. The implementation of brand properties across all touch points, both digital and on the ground is VIM’s business. Marc is a regular speaker on these topics and has written several articles on his ambition to create global recognition for brand implementation as one of the process disciplines within the brand management domain. Marc is also EACD ambassador for the working group Brand Leadership.