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The new brand economy

For so long we’ve accepted brands as part of our lives. Familiar faces and influencers of consumption and cultural behaviour. We live in a Brand Economy where virtually every product or service has an identity, a point of view and perceived value to add.

But business as usual has come at a very high price and we can no longer ignore it.

The unintended consequences of business as usual has created irrevocable negative impacts on both our social and physical environments. Because of the interconnected and interdependence of people and planet this is driving shockwaves of change throughout all global industries.

We are now hearing loud and clear from consumers that they will no longer accept business as usual that creates environmental degradation, inequality or injustice.

A recent indicator of this was in Colmar Brunton’s Better Futures 2018 Report showing that 72 percent of New Zealanders are very concerned about the buildup of plastic in the environment. This was their number one concern, above cost of living and the protection of children.

But this is about much more than plastic. This is about equality, diversity, prosperity– true value creation. It’s about living in harmony with each other, and our environment.

So how do you create value in this New Brand Economy?

Collectively, brands, consumers and designers can create an ecosystem of change.

Specialist brand and design agency, Milk in partnership with circular economy strategists Circularity, explore how brands can redefine their role and redesign how they do business to create services, products and systems that meet the needs of the future consumer.

Here are three ways this can be achieved:

1. Go Circular

Over the last year, we have seen numerous media reports about the broken waste collection and disposal system. We can no longer wish-cycle our way out of this crisis and there is the need for brands to not only redesign their packaging, but also play an active role in the creation of effective closed loop systems. These systems would be designed to ensure products and packaging can be collected to be repaired, remade or reused in continuous loops.

Flight Plastics here in New Zealand is an example of a closed loop system for PET – the most used plastic for packaging in the world. Flight Plastics takes recycled local PET, washes and grinds it to produce rPET containers for many supermarket fruit and vegetable containers and back again.

As a global example, Terracycle has launched packaging as a service, where consumers order everyday products such as ice cream, shampoo and orange juice and it is delivered in reusable containers.  With each delivery they return the containers to be washed, filled and delivered again. Global players such as Procter and Gamble, Nestle, Danone, The Body Shop and Mars Petcare are the initial partners.

2. Redefine brand meaning inside – out

In the New Brand Economy, there is transparency, trust and authenticity. Brands are not only a voice to the outside world, they are the reason why people go to work and perform their best.

Brands that thrive in the New Brand Economy, are built from the inside out, efficiently binding together staff and customers to become advocates that network this passion to the world.

Context are New Zealand’s third largest architectural firm, with offices in Auckland and Christchurch. They wanted a new brand strategy and design that reflected their achievements to date, but also put their focus firmly on the future. Something to lift them above their competitors in the crowded architectural space.

Following extensive research and interrogation of their organisation, Milk, together with the client, redefined their meaning and role in the world from the inside out, then refreshed their identity to align.

Architecture is traditionally celebrated by the graphic beauty of form and space. Milk saw an opportunity for new meaning to be created for the brand by focusing on Context’s value of people – both internally and through the role architecture has in lifting lives through better design. They created a brand that is anything but static. Full of energy and life, enabling Context to tell their stories in an inclusive, intelligent and people-centric way.

The brand is built around real people interacting with their spaces – coupled with language that is provocative and informative. The result is an architectural firm positioned to celebrate the people, the stories, the spaces, the journeys and the outcomes they help to create.

3. Deliver a real value exchange

In the New Brand Economy, value flows between brands and people beyond a great product at the right price. It is as much about an alignment of values as an actual trade of IP, resources and networks.

An example of this kind of value exchange is Hanley’s Petfood.

Hanley’s make natural pet food, backed by science and enriched with amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It’s an ethical business founded by Philippa Hanley, a genuine animal lover who also has a background in dairy science and equine nutrition.

Milk brought forth this passion to create a brand that connected people with the pets that trusted them to feed them.

‘He trusts you to feed him, so who do you trust?’

With a personal passion for natural foods herself, Phillippa knows that a lot of issues that animals have can be corrected with diet. Phillippa has a simple approach when it comes to decision-making within the business. She asks herself: ‘What’s best for the animal?’ Milk placed this proposition at the very heart of our task and created a brand built around values and a genuine story about an owner and her love for animals and their wellbeing;

As a result, Hanley’s packaging is simple, naïve, and wholesome. And because dogs are a key member of the family, the packaging is designed to make the dog food feel good enough for human consumption. A natural choice for man’s best friend.

Go circular, inside-out and a true value exchange are three ways that brands can unlock value in the New Brand Economy.

If you want to learn more about Milk and their ability to redefine brands, please visit milk.co.nz.

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