I’m back after almost a week in the U.S., where I attended the BRITE’16 “Center on Global Brand Leadership” conference at the Columbia Business School in New York. BRITE '16 brought together more than 500 business, technology, media, and marketing leaders to discuss how technology and innovation are changing the way companies build and sustain great brands.
The rising value of brands in the digital age
During the two-day conference we listened to speakers from GE, KIND Snacks, Microsoft, Nickelodeon, Bloomberg L.P., Coach, Beautycounter, Ogilvy & Mather and many more. They gave their view on a range of different topics but all agreed on one thing: that building strong brands has never been more important. And thanks to the digital revolution, the responsibility of building and maintaining a company’s brand now falls to its top management team. The brand strategy serves as a key tool for that.
The strongest brands are built from the inside out
Another topic of discussion was how to build strong brands, and the common view was that it should be done from the inside out. A brand comes to life through the people that work at the company and who “live” the brand everyday.
Doing good through business
It was inspiring to listen to business leaders who are actually making change happen. One of them was the founder of KIND Snacks, Daniel Lubetsky, who uses business to drive change and inspire acts of kindness. He talked about how businesses can be both highly successful and achieve a social goal. As he put it, there’s a “doing-good-through-business” movement happening right now.
Brand building through storytelling
And lastly, one of my personal favorites. GE talked about redefining the word “digital” and building strong brands through storytelling. In an effort to become the world’s leading digital industrial company, GE has been tackling questions like, “When more than 80% of purchase decisions happen online, how can we sell jet engines?” And “How do we manage a brand/story in several countries?” The key, according to GE, is for companies to be comfortable with who they are and find a compelling way to tell their story – preferably one that aspires to change the world – to emotionally connect with their target audience.