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The Revolution Will Be Branded: Day 2 Report from SB '12
By: Ron Romanik
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Day two of the Sustainable Brands ’12 conference in San Diego started off with a bang. Sustainability visionary and author Hunter Lovins asked the standing-room-only morning audience two provocative questions:

Do we really want a revolution?

Will the revolution be violent?

Yes. And…maybe.

What was unanimous in the morning sessions was that new paradigms of branding and marketing would be necessary as the world recovers from the industrial revolution and the failures of capitalism. Each morning speaker built on the momentum of the previous, as each offered inspirational testimonies by business leaders speaking about real sea change trends in the world. Most reiterated that the business case for sustainability initiatives has already been made many, many times.

One hero of the show is Unilever CEO Paul Polman, who recently refocused the business model to serve the end customers, not the shareholders. One way he reinforced this corporate marketing message was to change Unilever’s quarterly reporting to yearly. This shift is a marketing tool, as are many corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

James Gregory of CoreBrand proved unequivocally the value of intangible value or reputation and investing in CSR with 20 years of empirical data on 1,000 brands. And Pure Branding’s Kevin Williams helped the audience appreciate how it’s time to redefine our understanding of true human values. The old model of an endless feedback loop of negative reinforcement must be replaced with a new model with pillars of appreciation and reciprocity.

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About the Author
Ron Romanik is principal of Romanik Communications, a brand consultancy outside Philadelphia founded with a mantra of “Authentic Stories. Resonant Tones. Sustainable Brands.”
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