Brand Singularity Will Define The Next 5 Years

Divisions between consumer brand, employer brand and personal brand have all but disappeared.

Brand strategy, at its core, is about predicting the future and then making that future a reality. 

The outsized benefits of brand live 3, 5, sometimes even 10 years ahead. Brands that pull that future into the present day change users’ consideration sets and bend the will of the market toward their doorstep. 

Strategists are futurists. There is no strategy without a prediction.

If you get those predictions right, you will get a brand strategy that amplifies the business strategy rather than trailing it. 

There is one future signal that has an immediate impact on branding for nearly every company in the next few years and it can be found in a simple, unassuming chart about C-level job postings that was published in HBR this month:

In the study, researchers found a rapidly growing appetite for CEOs with strong social skills coupled with an equally declining appetite for operational expertise. In other words, companies want leaders who know how to leverage and navigate culture more than they want leaders who know how to direct financial resources and technical expertise — and the inverse relationship between these two needs has only gotten more dramatic in the last 7 years. 

It makes sense that as companies have become more complex they need leadership with higher levels of interpersonal fluency, but something else is happening behind the executive curtain. 

The trifecta of consumer brand, the CEO’s personal brand and the company’s employer brand are all becoming the same thing... 

High Stakes Games

Here's what we've been consuming.

Your Career Is Just One-Eighth of Your Life (The Atlantic): “The point is not that professional ambition is so morally pristine. It’s a personal taste! And you should be honest with yourself if it’s a taste you want to cultivate. Being stuck in the middle is agony: to be ambitious overall but uninterested in going above and beyond at work, or to be unambitious by nature and yet feel pressured to become a full-on workist. People are happiest when their life is aligned with their identity.”

'Date Me' Google Docs and the Hyper-Optimized Quest for Love (WIRED): "Date Me docs do seem to be a natural next step in the evolution of online dating, not because the outcomes are necessarily better, but because the docs themselves feel at least like an effective form of self-expression. They are the anti-app, in that they embrace the vastness of the open web and shirk the ideals, dodgy algorithms, and templates of containerized dating apps. Apps and web, web and apps, and on and on we go. In a way, this is the natural ebb and flow of dating, too."

Did the internet ruin culture? (Read Max): “There is less demand for intellectually challenging culture (the argument goes) because it is less valuable to consumers as a means of rising in a social hierarchy. But what about the supply side? What about the companies and institutions that create culture? It would be unsophisticated to think that they’re merely responding to some natural market signal, wouldn’t it?”

Why we need a new kind of education: Imagination Studies (Aeon): “Humans simultaneously experience a real ‘now’ and an imaginal ‘second universe’ but, phenomenologically, they are combined in present experience. Occasionally, this leads to epistemic slippage and confusion, like conspiracy thinking, but usually imagination makes humans more awake to the potentials in lived experience. Popular culture recognises only the fantasy version of artistic imagination and fails to appreciate that everyday conversation, daydreaming, map navigation, political strategising, scientific hypothesizing, moral reflection, field surgery, cooking, reading and lovemaking are all imaginative activities, too.”

Is Selling Shares in Yourself the Way of the Future? (The New Yorker): “We usually think of inequalities as extending from bottom to top: I earn a little wealth over eight hours; Bill Gates earns much more. But there are also inequalities that extend longitudinally, from the past into the future. Your young self does labor for which your older self collects rewards. Such timing issues—how much money you receive or can spend now and later—have effects on your financial fate. In a more equal world, you cannot help but think, people would draw on their lifetime wealth throughout their lives, not merely at the pinnacle of their careers. You notice that older generations and big corporations rule the roost in the United States, but it’s not clear why this should be so.”

Billionaire No More: Patagonia Founder Gives Away the Company (The New York Times): "The story was unlike any other he had seen in his career. ‘In my 30 plus years of estate planning, what the Chouinard family has done is really remarkable,’ he said. ‘It’s irrevocably committed. They can’t take it back out again, and they don’t want to ever take it back out again.’”

Jasmine Bina
Founder & CEO
Concept Bureau, Inc.