There Is No Brand Strategy Without A Prediction

This is how to bet on the right thing.

At the heart of every culturally impactful brand is a wager on what the next 5, 10 or 15 years will look like. Impactful brands make it their job to inch toward that vision in every single action they take.

Parsley Health is about functional medicine but if you experience the brand in any meaningful way, whether its logging into their patient portal, walking into a clinic, or following CEO Robin Berzin on social, you will see that they are betting on a very different kind of medical mentality emerging in the coming years among consumers. 

Parsley believes patients will become the new experts: proficient in their own health and wellness, talking from an empowered point of view with their medical providers, and open to exploring complementary therapies that combine mind, body and soul. 

Nearly all expressions of the Parsley brand are geared toward making this future a reality. Even though Parsley has great tech that makes the medical experience remarkably different from the usual visit to the doctor’s office, they rest their brand strategy on the changing user instead of their platform.

What Parsley gets right and so many others get wrong is that ideas, not technology, are what impact the future the most.

It was the romanticized notion of the nuclear family, not the mass production of cars, that changed America’s suburban topography. It is the changing notion of career and success, not the advent of laptops or post-Covid remote work, that will alter the world of work forever. 

Oftentimes, future-forward brands tend to make technology the center of their strategies rather than a larger idea, but as Tom Vanderbilt puts it, “When technology changes people, it is often not in the ways one might expect.” 

The washing machine had the potential to liberate housewives from the home, but instead it freed them up to do the work their housemaids once did. Though the technology changed, the idea behind a woman’s role had not.

Predicting the future is fundamental to your brand strategy but not as easy as it may seem. The correct signals often get lost in the noise of invention.

Here's how to make sure you're making the right bet...

Know Thyself

Here's what we've been consuming.

Why Futurism Has a Cultural Blindspot (Nautilus): “People in the innovation-obsessed present tend to overstate the impact of technology not only in the future, but also the present. We tend to imagine we are living in a world that could scarcely have been imagined a few decades ago [...] Ideas, not technology, have driven the biggest historical changes. When technology changes people, it is often not in the ways one might expect: Mobile technology, for example, did not augur the “death of distance,” but actually strengthened the power of urbanism.”

Has the Pandemic Changed Your Personality? (Smithsonian Magazine): "“Younger adults’ personalities changed the most, while the oldest group of participants had no significant shifts in their personality traits, according to the study. ‘The older you get, the more of a sense of identity you have, the more entrenched you are in your social roles,’ Rodica Damian, a psychologist at the University of Houston, who wasn't involved in the research, tells NBC’s Aria Bendix. ‘You know more who you are, so things are going to affect you less in some ways.’”

For Suburban Texas Men, a Workout Craze With a Side of Faith (New York Times): “This is F3 — that’s fitness, fellowship and faith — a fast-growing network of men’s workouts that combine exercise with spiritually inflected camaraderie. After its founding in 2011 as a free, outdoor group workout, its popularity exploded during the pandemic, expanding to some 3,400 groups across the country from 1,900, aiming to solve, as John Lambert, a.k.a. Slaughter, the network’s chief executive, put it, ‘a problem that society at large and men definitely didn’t even know they had: middle-age male loneliness.’”

What It Means to ‘Feel Normal’ Online (Wired): “Emotional capitalism is now one of the most noticeable features of social media platforms, which encourage us to classify our emotional reaction to a post through a limited set of responses to further capture our behavior [...] In today’s age of big data, our past behavior serves as signals that suggest how we might act in the future and becomes a way of finding ourselves.”

3 Influential Story Types Leaders Should Tell (Catalyst):  “Story is a powerful communication device. I’m not talking about fairy tales, fiction, falsehoods or spin. I’m talking about framing your point of view in a logical, story-based structure. Stories can move people to embrace big ideas and accomplish great things. Most of all, stories help us transform information into meaning and move us to act. Ultimately, that is why stories have the power to build influence.”

Are You the Same Person You Used to Be? (The New Yorker): “The passage of time almost demands that we tell some sort of story: there are certain ways in which we can’t help changing through life, and we must respond to them. Young bodies differ from old ones; possibilities multiply in our early decades, and later fade.”

AI Inventing Its Own Culture, Passing It On to Humans, Sociologists Find (Vice): “If social learning, or the ability of humans to learn from one another, forms the basis of how humans transmit culture or solve problems collectively, what would social learning look like between humans and algorithms?”

Welcome to the post-rational world.

Jasmine Bina
Founder & CEO
Concept Bureau, Inc.