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Dear brand, it’s about time to join the „New School“.

Your education brought you here. An education characterized by ambitious parents and severe teachers. An education with the promise to grow, to be desirable, to be blessed to earn more, to increase your value year by year. The only thing you were asked to do was to play by their rules. Strict rules, simple rules, extensive rules. Rules that highlight their „track record“ of fifty years of success. And now? You have the impression your education was not suitable for the times you live in? You feel not well enough equipped with the right set of skills? You have the impression, you are not that attractive anymore, nobody listens to you any longer? It’s getting harder to stay friends? Let’s have a look …

Ever gave it some thought that the rules you follow are not suitable for the world we are living in? What about the fact that the rules you live and breathe are pre-digital? Created for a industrialized world where size equaled power, where information and data was a scarcity not abundance, where roles within the economic value creation were clearly defined. It would take too long to elaborate every detail, but let me highlight some thoughts that might challenge your relationship to your parents, teachers, role-models and rules. We will pick up on this issue again and again, it’s not a one-off thing. Let me outline five key aspects the „New School“ of branding and branding is all about:

1. Conversation, not broadcasting.

„Digital just is, today. Itʼs not some inconvenience that is going to disappear, it will only get richer, more seamless.“ (Russell Holmes, ico Design). Digital is not just a channel of communication or transaction but the infrastructure of our lives. Digital becomes evermore ubiquitous and changes the way human beings interact with each other and brands like you. It’s a social and conversational era. It’s „post-broadcast“. It’s no longer about shouting „look at me“ and „I’m good for you“. Our interconnectedness made us more informed than ever. An additional piece of information, a second opinion is just a click and second away. We learned to trust our peers more than your marketing. The „New School“ tries to teach you new skills, to assist you reintegrating into society.

2. Human, not robotic.

Your „old school“ broadcasting approach of communication is outdated. Everything seems to be about consistency. And to be honest: being excellent in very specific tasks, not being able to socialize, failing empathy, being obsessive about keeping everything in order – sounds quote like a diagnosis of an autistic person. You look good on the outside, dressed properly all the time. You take care of your talking, you take care of your behavior. Feels a little bit too staged and scripted to be authentic. The same „shit“ time after time, no flexibility, no change. We have alternatives, more human alternatives, we do not yearn for ego-centric robots. We gonna teach you how to become more human, being able to listen, being empathic. We challenge you, we ask you to answer the question „coherent or consistent – what’s more important“?

3. Deep tissue, not make-up.

Your focus was always on communication. Your job was to express the qualities you inherited in a very compelling way. Your job was to create an image of yourself in the mind of your audience. That it’s you they think of, when they might need on of your qualities. That’s it’s you they think they cannot live without. But the human beings you call your audience (or even worse: target group) changed. They don’t believe you every word you say They got more demanding, they expect you to be more useful, not just „cool“. For them, useful is the new cool. And „useful“ is hopefully the assessment of their experiences, their interactions they have with you. Useful is about creating meaning. But becoming meaningful for human beings is no longer about constructing a specific image by communications. Becoming meaningful is more and more about designing (and offering) services and products. Therefore, branding and brand management increasingly implies the transformation of businesses. It’s „deep tissue“ not just „make-up“. It’s less and less about visuals and mounted surfaces, it’s more and more about processes, actions and interactions that create experiences. „It’s about owning the idea, putting it at the heart of the organization, and enabling it to spread across all touch-points and channels, no matter how much the media landscape changes. It’s not simply a copy-paste of graphic principles. It’s experiential.“ (Jason Little, Landor Associates)

4. Ecosystem, not egocentric.

The way you create value, the way you improve the lives of your audience changes dramatically. With digital at your core or as your infrastructure, it is no longer the single entity that creates or symbolizes the value. It’s increasingly the interdependent and seamless interplay of different entities that create the real value – and that makes you more fascinating as your competitor. Fore sure, it’s crucial to pay attention to the details. But it’s no longer just the „one thing“ that has to be perfected, but a bunch of things. You have to take care of all the details, the things and their relationships to each other. It’s about orchestrating your products, services, behaviors, messages etc. to create a meaningful and persuasive experience. It’s more like creating and managing an ecosystem. And the ecosystem extends beyond your own sphere. „It’s a community of living organisms in conjunction with non-living components, interacting as a system“ (Source: Wikipedia). Killing off one species might lead to the collapse of the whole system. It’s about cooperation, collaboration and co-creation. Your gleaming flat-earth-attitude of „I’m the centre of the universe“ won’t help. New skills are required. Together, we gonna explore how you can stay attractive and true to yourself while being „just“ one organism in the system.

5. Operating system, not rulebook.

You got carried away by your rules. They were went to ease your demanding live. They had best intentions, were established to give you some advice on what to say, how to dress, what to do. But, with every new arena you entered, with every new assignment you got, your rules snowballed. There was a point you didn’t notice that your rules became you. It was no longer important what you were all about, what you could do for others, how you could enrich their lives. It was more about playing by the rules, about the surface and messages, about what to pretend and promise. Losing friends, feeling less attractive – just a matter of sticking closer to your guidelines, of needing new rules for new situations. No wonder you got tired. Maybe we should have a fresh look at the rules they gave you. Maybe you need a different form of guidance and support. Something more responsive, something like an OS, instead of a rulebook. Something that really does something, that executes functions, that is always in beta, get’s constant updates. Being post-broadcast, being digital at the core, it might be beneficial to get inspired by tech-companies and software (development), instead of sticking to practices of the last century. Maybe the new role and behavior of your audience (prompt: co-creation, prosuming) should be reflected in your rules. We gonna explore what is the most suitable approach for you.

Sounds good? Sounds overdue? Need to challenge your thinking and to adjust your skills to challenges you’re facing? Welcome to the „New School“ of branding.

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