Sweat the big stuff


By Camila Grey

What kind of toothpaste do you use? Which side of the fridge did you return the jam to this morning? How many emails did you flick through and ignore? Do you know for certain? Can you really remember? Do you really care?

Routines make life easier. They’re reassuring, consistent and comforting. They get us through the days. From the little things like the time we get up, to bigger things like the meetings we attend and the way we interact with each other, having a proven way of doing it just makes logical sense. Right?

“Relentless work can also be a form of laziness, because it is work that is comfortable and familiar to us, that we know how to do. And it allows us to avoid the truly hard work and bigger questions about our present and our future: What shall we become? How must we change?”

Who said this, do you think? A great philosopher? A wise, grandfatherly type on his deathbed? An unnamed source on a “Cool Quotes” board on Pinterest? Actually no, it was Arthur Gregg Sulzberger the chairman of The New York Times.

I’ve been slowly working my way through the 97 page New York Times Innovation Report since it leaked last month. It’s high drama akin to reality TV. Reality corporate existential crises are my jam because - like the Kardashians - it always comes down to people. Whether its in a large organisation or a private jet, how people navigate the regulated normality of everyday life to achieve a wider, less tangible ambition for the future is gripping stuff.

Maintaining his Yoda-esque proclamations, Sulzberger also said this, “We need a mindset shift that allows us to invest in things we think are important simply because we think they’re important”. Shift we must, indeed. Here at Wolff Olins, we’ve been working with a client who - like The New York Times - were so busy focusing on their day-to-day, they didn’t know how to begin to focus on their wider goals. They could see their future but not their place in it. Facing EU legislation, changing consumer expectations and new, nimble competitors, it’s no wonder that everything felt important. Our task was to guide them in how best to break it all down, prioritise investment and define a roadmap for transformation.

Making large-scale shifts in these types of organisations can’t happen overnight, nor should it. Of course we helped our client to define their vision and identify their objectives, but we also developed a series of small-scale projects that would signal change and kick-start an ambitious transformation. In short, we enabled them to sweat the big stuff by doing some useful small stuff.

Habits, rituals, routines. Behaviours, processes and structure. They all add up to something eventually. For us lot trying to live lovely, happy lives as well as big organisations looking to thrive in an uncertain future, finding the time to sweat the big stuff now and then is vital. Doing so reassures us that those little things are not only comforting but also meaningful, and that they’re getting us somewhere. “It is easier to do trivial things that are urgent that it is to do important things that are not urgent”. John Cleese said that one. Pop philosophy and a wafer thin mint, anyone?

Camilla Grey is a strategist at Wolff Olins London. 

Wolff Olins welcomes The Space

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The Space, a new creative online platform to showcase the most exciting new digital art, was launched today with the support of artists and tech stars from across the world.

We are proud to have worked with The Space on its new brand. Working within an incredibly tight timeframe we alighted on a simple idea using universally available components; the font Arial, and blue – the colour most closely associated with Internet via hyperlinks. The simplicity of the identity system mirrors the democratic and accessible philosophy behind The Space. It is versatile, efficient and easy to implement but allows for endless forms of animation, play and experimentation.

The Space is where art can meet everyone and everyone can meet art. Like the rest of the digital world, The Space is not constrained within a white cube instead it’s an endless digital landscape that will continue to grow and grow, shaped by the art that sits within it. It’s like a famous landmark that is within everyone’s reach and its collection changes with every visit. Our work reflects that boundless and limitless nature. 

The four core elements of the identity – letter form, colour, name and call to action, (‘this is The Space’) - come together to make repeat patterns that can be animated, rescaled, reshaped and activated by artists, artworks and audiences.

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and co-founder of the Open Data Institute said, “Artists wake us up to all that happens in the world, The Space can make that happen on the web.”

Digital artist and Creative Director of the Data Arts Team at Google Aaron Koblin is excited to see the concept of digital art being challenged and hopes The Space will further bridge the gap between art and technology: “We live in an exciting time where technologists and artists are increasingly coming together in a new creative age. Together they’re helping to define a new digital world. I look forward to seeing how The Space will challenge the concept of what ‘digital art’ is, and what art can be. Hopefully it will give a voice and platform to artists and technologists from around the world and foster some amazing collaborations between the worlds to bring them even closer together.”

For more information visit, The Space and The Space’s open call for artists

 

What do you learn for?

Innovations in education are missing much of what makes it so special. We need to remind ourselves that learning is not just about economics.

By Dan Gavshon Brady

Earlier this month, I had my first official university reunion, and have been thinking about my time there. I have also been involved in two types of teaching recently, in a one-on-one academic capacity to secondary-school level students, and as a co-facilitator to professionals for Kitchen, Wolff Olins’ new school venture. These two different environments required very different types of attention and approaches, but in both cases the reasons for learning were similar: people want to equip themselves for the future.

Why we learn

Typically, we learn for one or a mix of the following reasons:

1. Economic – as an investment in our future utility and earning power, and eligibility to employers

2.  Moral and Social – for our personal and intellectual development with a view to social responsibility and democratic citizenship

3.  Epistemic – for the development of knowledge and understanding, learning for learning’s sake

New routes to learning

It is an interesting time in education. The rise of MOOCs (the fastest-growing instructional form of education globally) and SPOCs are well documented, with many platforms offering courses, programmes and schemes which threaten traditional models of access and price.

Earlier this year, an app called Spritz was announced which claims to enable people to read a novel in 90 minutes. The press it received isn’t surprising, it has all the hallmarks of extreme click bait (More! Faster! Apps! More efficient and faster apps!), and the product sounds attractive until you start to think about it (which, incidentally, you couldn’t do if you were reading this argument, or any, on that app). This Atlantic article suggested, far more eloquently than I could, that the app is not really even trying to make you read faster, but to transcend reading altogether. It is as if the only benefit of reading something is the ability to declare that you have read it.

There are other examples too. Coursmos, a platform for micro-courses, presents itself by saying, “Always wanted to learn, but were too busy? Education for Generation Distracted”.  At the time of writing, five of the first pages of recommended courses on Mindsy were about making an activity more productive, faster or easier. The only discernible function of learning is to help get it out of the way as quickly as possible.

And so this faster and easier swathe of learning allows people to remove themselves from the actual experience of learning.

Obsessing on productivity and economics

Learning at its best does not come easily (and often the challenges involved are what makes it enjoyable). Nor are its benefits limited to its measurable outcomes (a certificate of completion, a symbolic stamp of achievement, employment after the event and so on). Spritz encourages you to have read so you can say you’ve read something; it doesn’t allow for the absorption, contemplation or playing around with what you read. Having gained a qualification in five easy steps does not mean that you really understand it. The quality not only of the education, but also its subsequent application in the world, is threatened.

One concern about this goal-oriented, end-supersedes-the-means emphasis is that we stop thinking about quality, and only think in terms of economics and efficiency. Another concern is that learning increasingly becomes a solitary pursuit for individual self-actualisation: of course, people should learn for themselves, but learning with and amongst others is where so much real understanding, collaboration and progress is made.

Universities have traditionally rooted themselves in ‘the disinterested pursuit of knowledge’ but our increasing obsession with quantifying, measuring and ranking results, efficacy and outcomes threatens this. Students are increasingly being treated as customers, and if only assessed in utilitarian terms the product (of education) will become less impactful in moral, social and epistemic terms. Martha Nussbaum has argued against the increasingly utilitarian expectations placed upon education. It should not be subsumed into the business of economics, and students should not be treated as customers.

Despite some teething problems and legitimate challenges about quality, new models of education and learning will improve. This should be a positive and exciting prospect, but it is important to consider why and how we want to learn. If we read and study only for the outcome, not for the journey, it will be a great shame. Learning should offer us so much more.

Dan Gavshon-Brady is a strategist at Wolff Olins, London. He can be found @DanGB88

20 reasons why everyone should be Orange

By Morgan Holt

Orange is one of those companies that we’re incredibly proud for. We helped it come into the world in the 90s, we’ve been invited to explore it further over the years since then… but more than that it’s the brand that most clients want to be more like.

Why? We asked around the office for 20 Reasons Everyone Should Be Orange. This is what we heard:

1.   a little challenger that conquered the world

2.   seeing the world through the eyes of a 7 year-old

3.   captures the optimism of a period before 9/11, Lehman or Putin

4.   small innovations that make a big difference, like per-second billing

5.   simple, accessible, optimistic, vibrant.

6.   brave: who’d call a company ‘Orange’?!

7.   free cinema tickets that created a time for friends to meet each week

8.   magical swimming baby adverts

9.   everyone knows what “I am a Dolphin” means

10. proud black, white and orange

11. 24hr service repair

12. friendly, trustworthy and always looking for the fun times in life

13. stopped the industry talking about itself

14. confidence in content

15. ironic cinema ads that told people to switch off their phones

16. magic numbers

17. friendly no-BS attitude that looks humble really it’s just being human

18. solar-power charge up tents in festivals

19. the future’s bright

20. it’s a fruit. Everyone loves fruit!

Morgan Holt is a Principal and Senior Director at Wolff Olins London. 

APIs, Big Data, and the Indonesian election

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By Mark Bosse 

The world’s largest ever single-day election took place just a few weeks ago in Indonesia. An incredible 187 million people, across 17,000 islands and three time zones cast their ballots in a period of just 24 hours. Of those, 22 million had never voted before, and there were 320,000 candidates to choose from. Maintaining an open, transparent flow information under such conditions is clearly challenging. But it’s not impossible.

Technology can play a huge role in helping to promote transparency, innovation and people-centric systems in fundamental aspects of life, such as politics.

For example, in the past it’s been a struggle just to find simple information on Indonesia’s election candidates. Data has usually been sprawled across scanned documents and not easily accessible, so voters have had to rely on bits and pieces of information to decide whom to support. Political jockeying is intense, and often includes lavish parties during election time (sometimes involving elaborate costumes, dancers, and live animals).

This year, an Indonesian NGO called Perludem set out to make information on the candidates more accessible to voters. They released an open API for the election database, enabling anyone with coding skills to try to build a website or mobile app that could make sense of the data containing candidate CVs, photos and geographic information.

Coders competed at a ‘Hackathon’ in March to build the best platform and interface for election information. The process paid off, and this year voters had multiple channels to learn about candidates and make informed decisions.

This is a technique that has been used to great effect by successful brands like Twitter, which released its API before it even had a mobile platform and then built on the prototypes coders had made. Now even mainstream brands like Netflix, Best Buy, and The North Face use APIs to provide consumers easy access to data.

In general, APIs do a lot of good for both brands and consumers. They promote transparency, crowd-source innovation and empower talented people to help make sure consumers get the most out of what the brand offers.

But it’s exciting to see such technology being used to help bring transparency to opaque political systems. If the election in Indonesia is any indication of the future, we may continue to see innovations that make common practices more people-centric. And if consumer-centric brands are able to deliver a better experience, will a people-centric world be better for us all?

Mark Bosse is an associate strategist at Wolff Olins New York.

Eight learnings on incubating ventures

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By Andre Campbell 

As a new strategist at Wolff Olins, you get thrown into some pretty exciting work. 

Over the last few months, I’ve been an intrapreneur at Wolff Olins developing new ventures, which will impact the external marketplace. It’s been a deeply rewarding experience that has forced me to discard many of my previously held notions on venture creation.

Below are eight learnings I wanted to share with anyone embarking on an intrapreneurial journey:

1. Speed

Quick wins matter. Establishing ways to validate your concept early on will enable the company to provide you with the time and space your venture needs to grow within a company thirsty for results. It’s worth remembering someone out there has a similar idea and means of production to you. Therefore, speed and execution is the name of the game! 

Tip: Ensure your team has the permission and adequate resources to build and maintain momentum early on. Set realistic but challenging deadlines in order to deliver against key activities. The aim is not to produce a perfect product or business plan but to provide your best hypothesis and iterate based on customer feedback.

2. Invest In People

You live and die by the quality of your team. So invest time in selecting your ‘A Team’ and don’t compromise. Ensure they are adequately resourced, incentivised, and committed to the voyage. 

Tip: Gauge your teams’ motivation by asking what personally motivates them about your venture.

3. Find What Drives You

Look beyond a company’s predefined venture process and find what motivates you to go above your job description. Your passion will make the difference when spreading your ideas and attracting the resources necessary to grow your venture.

Tip: Explore the potential for synergy between your venture and your company’s existing client base or internal initiatives. Share quick wins through your company’s regular announcements.

4. Pan for Gold

As an intrapreneur, it’s normal to struggle with clearly communicating your new idea. However, it’s important not to be precious with your ideas. Share, listen and refine what captures your audience’s imagination (be sure to listen out for interesting vocabulary and summaries from colleagues/potential customers as they can jolt your core message along). Remember, the journey to clarity takes patience and candour from all stakeholders involved.

Tip: When receiving interesting feedback, there is a temptation to immediately tweak your business plan. Instead, take a step back, and conduct a series of controlled user experiments. This enables you to make incremental changes to your experiments, which in turn gives you greater control on what could make your product or business model more successful.

5. Get Out Of The Building

Your answers are in ‘the real world’ not your bedroom or swanky office. In the beginning, spend over 70% of your time understanding your customer’s reality. They are your R&D department!

Tip: Break conventional thinking by organising team away days or explorations into your customers’ world.

6. Outcomes Focused

You have limited time, so it’s essential you squeeze every ounce of productivity from your meetings and interactions.

Tip: Ensure meetings and workshops focus on a specific outcome, which moves the idea forward. Make the most of meetings (and there will be many) by sending documentation in advance.

7. Schooling

There is no need to master all the skill sets required for building a new venture creation. However it pays to build a strong foundation. To this end, I found Class Central and Lynda particularly helpful.

Tip: Identify an expert and draw up a fair exchange plan. What new value could you provide them with? What skills or knowledge could they offer you in return?

8. Understand Your Capabilities

Finally, below are the key capabilities required for undertaking an intrapreneurial venture. Understanding where you need to supplement your key capabilities early on will help you determine what expertise, experience, and resources; you need to succeed. Assessing your own abilities on the scales below will help you see the gaps you need to fill:

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(Special thanks to Hashem Bajwa for sharing)

Tip: Did you identify any key capabilities you are lacking? If so, then think of the colleagues, freelancers, and partners that could supplement your key capabilities. If your company has a resource manager, work with them to source the right support.

Andre Campbell is a Brand and Social Innovation Specialist at Wolff Olins follow him @andrecampbell​

 

Here’s the lowdown on the new guy, Ije

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By Karl Heiselman

After 14 amazing years at Wolff Olins, I’m making a move to Apple. As I hand over as CEO of Wolff Olins to Ije Nwokorie I thought I’d leave you with an idea of what you can expect from him: 

Hard-hitting work about real systemic change gets Ije fired up. He’s happiest looking at our fundamental systems – health, education, money – and how brands can deliver socially impactful change in those spaces. Just look at the work he’s led with Adama to create a farmer-focused brand to address global food security issues, and Little Sun, a project to get clean, affordable light to the 1.6 billion people worldwide without access to electricity.

In his own words, “all sorts of systems out there are either not fit for purpose, or skewed too much in favour of the few. But technology is making it possible for a new generation of leaders to rethink these systems, disrupt the status quo and create new products, services, brands and business models that have unprecedented impact both socially and commercially.” Like me, Ije’s ambitious for our clients and optimistic for the world.

Tech is a buzzword but Ije’s approach is super-intentional. It’s not about tech for tech sake but about stitching together the entirety of the interface organisations have with their public. He’s constantly looking at how to link up the expression, experience and economics of brands in a way that was not possible even a year or two ago. He’s finding ways for technology to deliver richer and more meaningful relationships between our clients and their customers. He’s asking how technology can deliver greater social and commercial impact. But, for Ije, technology is never the end game.

Leadership is a behaviour not a role. Ije thinks a lot about how to empower other people - both in advising clients through big-scale change and in his role at Wolff Olins. His superpower is creating the right conditions for others to thrive and become leaders too. Since becoming MD of our London outfit four years ago the business has grown, our people have flourished and we’ve brought in some iconic clients. More than anyone else I know, Ije gets a kick out of seeing people around him develop their own leadership style and push the boundaries of our business.

Working the system is core to his DNA. Ije was born in America, raised in Nigeria and educated in England, this means he’s pretty good at finding ways to work around ‘the system’. Arriving in Nigeria aged six and not being able to speak the language; living there in the ‘70s and ‘80s when systems didn’t work; studying architecture in England, fresh from Nigeria and having to make new friends from different backgrounds… all of those things have made him the disruptive, creative force of nature that he is today. I suspect Ije’s international identity is going to influence the markets he takes Wolff Olins to in next chapter.

Karl Heiselman handed over to Ije Nwokorie as Global CEO of Wolff Olins on 17 April. 

Follow Ije @onyeije 

 

 

A new way to make brands

by Robert Jones 

For the last ten Monday afternoons, as winter turned into spring, I’ve been working with my 22 brand leadership students on three real-life client projects. Classroom 2.03 is a bit of a hothouse, literally and metaphorically, so it’s been heady stuff. And week by week, it’s become clearer that the method I’ve been teaching is a million miles away from reality. It’s time to rethink that method – and to learn from the very different world of software development.

I’ve been teaching a linear model: first define your client’s goals, then imagine the brand idea they should stand for, then make an action plan (innovation, communication and internal change), and finally make sure they’ll live happily ever after. I’ve always known this neatness is artificial – but then, as the statistician George Box said, ‘all models are wrong, but some are useful’. For many years, it has to me felt useful.

But the eight weeks this term were very far from linear: cyclical, iterative, even (in a good way) chaotic. Ideas would be pounced on, enthused about, developed, dropped, and then reappear later. Occasionally, the clients’ needs would change. Every week, the three teams would learn something. Some weeks, they would make a huge creative leap forward. Other weeks, they would be seriously stuck. As one student said, ‘We were stuck on stage two… the philosophical thinking… for a very long time… Our ideas only flourished when we moved to stage three… actionable ideas.’ It felt as if moving to practical ideas sooner would make the thinking faster and better.

So as term moved on, I asked myself: can we make a more useful model?

At the same time, back at base at Wolff Olins, we’ve been facing new client pressures. What used to be a 12-month project is now 12 weeks. For clients we’ve been working with in China, this could even be 12 days – that’s their product development cycle. Our old linear method is just too slow.

And over the winter, we’ve started up a new business at Wolff Olins – a school of branding, called Kitchen. Doing a start-up has taught me an unforgettable lesson: get on with it. Don’t wait till the theory is perfect: try something and learn something today. Kitchen is now a live business – and whatever method we followed wasn’t linear.

So the student projects, our clients and Kitchen demand a different model. Maybe the alternative is in front of our noses: the agile software development process used by our tech clients.

‘Agile’ has been around for a decade or more. Its method is rapid prototyping – make something quickly and test it, rather than spending your time planning and designing. Its aim is ‘proof of concept’. Its rhythm is fast: ‘sprints’ of activity. Its management style is ‘lean’: self-organising teams that include the client, rather than formal hierarchies. And its philosophy is the opposite of the traditional top-down ‘waterfall’.

I’m not talking here about capital A agile, but small a: not the full, formal process of the Agile Movement, but agile thinking. Not the letter of the law, but its spirit.

You can sum it all up in a simple diagram. 

So here’s a better way for the students and for us. Not linear but cyclical. Not just thinking but doing too. And there’s a central role for testing, for getting data, for assessing ideas against reality – in a word, for learning.

How would the method work? Imagine something like this: every week, we start with our best hypothesis for the brand idea – the bunch of things we want our client to stand for in people’s minds. We then quickly turn it into some kind of ‘product’, which could be in any of the four quadrants we use (presence, culture, capability and offer). We then test this product, with consumers or client people or external experts, and formulate what we learn from the testing. Finally, we improve the brand idea for the following week. And we repeat until the brand idea feels solid.

The method should be faster than the linear model. It should be more practical, because it forces us to give our ideas form – to break away from the lofty and abstract. It should be more persuasive, since it’s constantly building proof of concept. And it should also be more rigorous, since our ideas are put to the test every week. (In fact, the process is very similar to the scientific method, where the cycle is theory, experiment, data).

So this is how I’ll teach my student projects next year. At Wolff Olins, we’re already using it when clients ask us to do innovation work – we’ve even written a very neat manual on the process for one client. We now need to apply it to brand creation work. Or at least (in the spirit of agile), we need to try it out and learn from it.

There are some big implications. We’ll have to make the client into a full member of the team, not just a workshop participant. We’ll have to be clear what kinds of things we can ‘make’ every week – it won’t be a new piece of software every time. And we’ll have to learn to love data – and yet also not to be ruled by it, not to let it limit our imaginations.

Excitingly, though, this approach could create a new weekly rhythm for everything, speeding up the whole Wolff Olins machine. It’s a way to achieve what I suggested in my post last month, ‘What’s wrong with brand thinking’: to ricochet constantly between architect (‘think’) and handyperson (‘make’). And it’s a way to add a third role to that list, just as essential: the perpetual learner (‘test’).

Thank you for help on this Camilla Grey (@CamillaStore) and Tom Petty (@tp).

Robert Jones is head of New Thinking at Wolff Olins and visiting Professor at the University of East Anglia. Follow him @RobertJones2

 

Leapfrogging the West.

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By Stefano Ferro

Too often in the Middle East, we see locally born and bred companies trying to copy successful international brands or using them as the only benchmarks for successful branding. What they fail to realise is the opportunity they have to use brand much more strategically by drawing on pre-existing deep cultural instincts that businesses should do good. They might even have certain strategic advantages that allow them to leapfrog the West.

Doing good, social impact, giving back are all terms that have recently become a focus for businesses in the West with a plethora of different models for social impact appearing across all sectors.

In our 2012 Game Changers report we looked at how “more and more businesses are choosing to explicitly link their economic decisions to the value created through environmental, social, labour and governance efforts”. Unilever, IBM, GSK, Nike, Little Sun and FutureLearn are all investing heavily in actively creating positive social impact.

The Scandinavian model of social ‘alignment’ is probably one that has shown most promise. VELUX is a fair example of the kind of philosophy that drives them. They say: “our solutions create better living environments. So does our way of doing business. By engaging respectfully with the people we work with; by giving back to the societies we do business in; and by working responsibly with the natural resources we all depend on… We create value for society and a profit for our business”.

Another model – favoured by politicians, rock stars and some big businesses – is to set up foundations that give back and do good. “We focus on big problems where we can make the greatest impact. To bring about the kind of change that can give all people the opportunity to live healthy and productive lives, our investments must be highly strategic and focused on results. We take risks, we push for new solutions, and we believe in the transformative power of science and technology”, say the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

While these models for social impact are still getting off the ground in the West, Middle Eastern businesses have actually always had a strategic advantage in this area - driven by Islamic principles. It is fundamental to the DNA of Middle Eastern businesses to do good! The challenge for them now is to use brand strategically to take ‘doing good’ from a passive obligation to a more active, purpose driven outcome.

Noor Bank is using brand to spearhead a number of initiatives in order to deliver on its vision to be a catalyst of the Islamic economy. The Deputy Group CEO of the Noor Investment Group, Dr. Ahmed Al Janahi, recently said: “The cooperation with AMAF, which is aligned with Dubai’s vision to shape the future of the Islamic economy, is in line with our strategy to give back to society through support for charities and foundations in the UAE. We will provide expertise…”

Then there’s Majid Al Futtaim, a leading shopping mall, retail and leisure business across the Middle East and North Africa, which has a very clear mission: ‘to create great moments for everyone, every day’. But this goes beyond the shopping malls or leisure parks and through the Majid Al Futtaim Foundation the business plays an active role in giving back to society.

“Majid Al Futtaim is engaged in creating a better future for the UAE by providing healthcare and education assistance to underprivileged and marginalised sectors.” They will work with leading international academic institutions to help develop the first national level institution providing best in class education and training for the sector.

And there are many more organisations like Noor Bank and Majid Al Futtaim going beyond their core business and working with society on all levels. The challenge for others in the region is how they can make this natural propensity to do good an integral part of their brand platforms. If they succeed, these brands can spearhead, champion and deliver on those principles as part and parcel of their brand rather than a behind the scenes afterthought.

Ultimately, there is a huge opportunity for Middle Eastern brands to draw on deep local, historic, and cultural instincts about playing a positive social role to create a sustained strategic advantage across all their key stakeholders.

What this means is that people at the very top of these businesses need to embrace this more strategic view of brand as a way of attracting and keeping talent and as a way of guaranteeing their companies’ longer-term legacy. If they can do that, they can then become authentic global brands, and can leapfrog the West in the process.

Stefano Ferro is managing director of Wolff Olins Dubai. 

Do the right thing

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By Neridah Leembruggen

Recently I got a dog, well a puppy actually. He is a bundle of bounding energy, cuteness and curiosity.

He still has his baby teeth and he likes to try everything by tasting it with his mouth (it also eases the pain in his gums). Everything is new to him and there is no shortage of things for him to try. Particularly when we are in our communal garden or walking down the street. Not just sticks, grass, leaves, rocks but cigarette butts, wet wipes, chewing gum, empty fast food containers, cans, plastic bottles and on and on it goes.

It’s not that I didn’t notice it before, but when you hear yourself saying “no” and “drop it” every three seconds or less you begin to realise that there is an astonishing amount of rubbish out there. It made me wonder, where is this all coming from? Why isn’t anyone picking it up?

It would probably be true to say that more of the things we consume these days come in containers that become rubbish – salad, soup, sandwiches, ready meals, water, wipes, cans, bottles, even simple fruit and vegetables. I mean I only need to look in my own bins after a delivery from Ocado to see that practically everything I have bought has come in some sort of bespoke packaging.

But despite all the bins and recycling bins the councils now provide us, the streets are still thoroughly littered. It can’t be all the fault of urban foxes, can it?

I grew up in Australia in the 1980s and as such have been affected by one of the most successful cultural movements of all time. It was catchy tunes like this that we heard time and again in TV adverts urging me to “Do the Right Thing” and put it in the bin. I felt and still feel personally responsible for my rubbish. I wouldn’t dream of leaving something in the street.

Given how fragmented our media consumption now is, I don’t think throwing lots of money at some big ads will be enough. And signing a petition online feels too passive - this requires real action from individuals.

So what is our modern day equivalent to inspiring a movement? And who should we look towards to instigate it?

In the age of austerity with funding cuts to local councils I can’t help but think it is the FMCG brands that create the packaging that becomes the rubbish could have a genuine role to play here.

Why not think of the life cycle of the packaging as their responsibility from its creation, to the shelf, to our homes and finally how we can dispose of it. I am not talking about a well hidden little line on the packaging that says “please dispose of this responsibly” (which is about effective as saying ”Mum, please don’t read my diary”) but some real initiatives that are funded by the brands. 

Why would brands do this? Well, becoming a platform for a genuinely responsible approach to our environment in a way that improves our daily lives will make these brands so much more useful and valuable to us. They’ll become authentic, which might just make us love them a little more. And we all know how powerful love is.

Neridah Leembruggen is a senior account manager at Wolff Olins.