Financial Times: Branding The Future

Jeetendr's column in the Financial Times focuses on the new rules of engaging millennials and Gen Z. 

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To encourage innovation, we need to buck the tribe

"Diversity remains a difficult pill for so many to swallow but we need to feel the pain and push ourselves out of our comfort zones"

For decades, we’ve been touted the superpower of tribes. Tribe members are those who “get” us. They share our interests, ideas and values and most importantly, accept us for who we are. But what happens when graduating from a tribal institution such as Oxford university becomes more of a liability than an asset? When the biggest brands no longer create the best innovators? When breaking away from the Hollywood pact to speak up about sexual assault is the only way to break through? Sure, your vibe attracts your tribe but it’s also your Achilles heel.

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Path to engagement with the next generation

"Audiences have complex needs and desires. Brands need to earn their trust through being authentic"

For years, actors on the silver screen have depicted love as strictly a feel-good zone — you’ll know it when you feel it. However, in light of recent corporate scandals misleading the public, audiences are savvier, more distrusting and less loyal than ever before. Deep down we now know that many A-list actors aren’t the family men and women they pretend to be, just as we know that face creams will not make us look 10 years younger. Today, when it comes to creating and capitalising on an emotional connection with consumers, actions speak louder than anything.

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Star quality is part of today’s business leadership style

"This includes being able to harness the power of fear, the refusal to compromise and the freedom to offend"

Leadership, at least in the business world, was once about buttoning up — no showboating allowed. Your job was to set a vision and align people towards it. However, thanks to the likes of Virgin’s Richard Branson, SpaceX’s Elon Musk and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, today there is no shame in chief executives seeking the spotlight. These leaders are as close to their publicists as they are to their colleagues in the boardroom. As a result, star quality has become a requirement for leadership appeal and this includes being able to harness the power of fear, the refusal to compromise and the freedom to offend.

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It is not easy being imperfect

"Millennials are not buying into the idea of the perfect brand — perfection is passé"

Many of us have been programmed to strive for perfection. But pursuing perfection is no longer a panacea. For one thing, it could actually drive you crazy.

But millennials aren’t buying the idea of the perfect brand to begin with and will tune out any organisation that underestimates their intelligence. Today, perfection is passé and it’s your flaws that make you fascinating.

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Fame in its modern form has redefined talent

"The power of celebrity and the potential to profit have never been greater"

The need to conform is human. Some of us do it to fit a pre-approved mould or to be accepted by those around us. Others conform because it’s just easier to do what everyone else is doing. But what happens when audiences decide they’ve had enough of the prevailing type? When the blue-eyed golden boy is out and the hot black guy is in? When the Latina promotes herself from toilet cleaner to wedding planner? What happens when there is so much uncertainty that the Hollywood casting director doesn’t know any better?