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October 31, 2022 // Wesley Chan // Opinion  //       //  Opinion

How The Role And Importance Of Brand Has Transformed Over Past Two Years

I started my career as a design engineer working on footwear for a major sportswear brand. In a nutshell, the job entailed drawing 3D renderings of shoe components using various computer-aided design software. The company wanted to keep up with the latest and greatest, so every three years or so we would receive a batch of the latest computers to test and see how the graphics and processing had improved. We ran each through a battery of scenarios and would get reports about how this computer was 10% faster than the one we were currently using or how that computer was 15% better at rendering, etc.  

Even then, my coworkers and I would joke about how it was all well and good to hunt for the best computer out there, but in reality the computers weren’t the bottleneck to getting the work done. People were the bottleneck – me and my colleagues.  

A faster computer is nice, but it is only as fast as I – the user – am. And for all the RAM and processing improvements, none of that made me a faster or better thinker. The computer specs were no longer the only important feature worth considering.  

Many companies experience a version of this today. The way we make decisions – what products we buy, who we work for, where we spend our time – is different today than it used to be. What the product or service does for me is still important, but we now also judge entire companies not just off their lineup of products but off their Brands.  

The past few years have reshaped our understanding of the world. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic rocked our foundation of security. It also further exposed the major cracks in our societal foundation as renewed calls for greater diversity, equity and inclusion were voiced. Add in climate change, which may be the biggest threat of all, and that adds up to a lot of issues to tackle.  

People – with millennials and Gen Zs leading the way – look to companies to solve these problems and seek to join companies that truly make a difference.   

Gen Z grew up natively on social media. Because of this, this generation is extremely adept at managing their own brands AND the brands they associate with. It is no longer the goal to have the best, most cutting-edge, and most expensive item. Instead, Gen Z aligns with purpose-driven brands that walk the talk and work to create a world THEY want to live in.   

Brand is crucial, not just as a veneer for another capitalist-driven company, but to align a business around a purpose and identify a North Star, a vision and a piece of the world that they contribute to. It takes our companies from being widget-suppliers churning out new products and services to being part of a global story.  

The Brand and Engagement Strategy Team at Allison+Partners exists to help companies articulate this exact message. We start with the vision, mission and purpose – the what, how and why behind a company – and build everything from core values to customer-facing brand promises from that foundation. It is our message to the world and why people should believe us.   

After all, Brand is about people. It is our employees and future employees and what they want to create and what they want to say. It is our customers and potential customers who want to know their money and attention go toward something that reflects their values. As the economy continues to fluctuate beneath us, Brand is no longer a nice-to-have. It is how companies will survive, and even flourish, in our changing landscape.  

Learn more about our Brand + Engagement Strategy: 

Wesley is a senior strategist on the Brand and Engagement Strategy Team (BEST). He is focused on helping companies and brands solve customer-facing problems, such as refreshing brand identity, understanding consumer journey and everything in-between.  

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