Halo insight 18
September 2020
5 Mins
Paul Bailey Brand Strategy Director

Halo In Conversation with – Nicholas Ind (part two)

A top-down or bottom-up approach to co-creation

Organisations have to live with uncertainty, that’s the reality of the world they live in (and we live in) – Nicholas Ind

Following on from the idea of a more emergent approach, we discuss what this means in reality for brand leaders. If a brand is constantly evolving, this makes life difficult for anyone leading a brand. We explore how brand leaders can take a pragmatic approach to actually realising a more co-creative approach. Nicholas explains the two different approaches he has discovered businesses take to co-creation, and I introduce him to the idea of applying wabi-sabi to brand.

[co-creation is] A process of risk-reduction – Nicholas Ind

As a brand owner just have the confidence to let go and allow people to generate their own experiences and share them, and to learn from that together with them. – Nicholas Ind

Moving from shareholder primacy to a stakeholder view.

Why does this organisation exist, beyond meeting the needs of shareholders. – Nicholas Ind

I’m sure we’ve all seen that the term brand purpose has been maligned over recent years. Probably not so much due to the idea of it as such, but rather the misuse and misapplication of the term. Nicholas has written extensively about how transparency and authenticity are extremely important for businesses, and in ‘Beyond Branding’ it’s suggested that branding for too long has been ‘short-termist, shareholder focussed, narcissistic and communications led’ (Allan, M. ed Ind, N. 2003: 222). We ask Nicholas about his view on the term purpose, his feelings on how it is used by businesses and marketers, and he gives examples of businesses who are moving to a more purpose-led reason to exist.

It’s one thing to proclaim we have a purpose as an organisation, it’s quite another to actually do it. – Nicholas Ind

Understand the nuances and be engaged with it

You can’t just co-opt cultural movements – you have to understand the nuances of what’s going on within a movement, and you have to have some degree of engagement with it.’ – Nicholas Ind

Finally, specifically referencing the recent example of Pepsi and Kendall Jenner, we discuss how do some businesses get the idea of ‘social purpose’ so badly wrong. Would purpose be better accepted and understood if we talked about business purpose – that the business is purposeful through its whole DNA. It seems that when brands go badly wrong it is down to them being viewed as inauthentic or trying to co-opt a movement or culture. So how do some businesses get it so wrong?

Inside the organisation you have boundaries to the outside, and there’s this big challenge to see the world from your organisations cultural perspective, and therefore you can make bad missteps.’ – Nicholas Ind

Changing how the next generation of brand leaders think

We asked Nicholas, what’s next? He talks to us about his next steps, and how he continues to challenge the view of brand being solely created internally and presented out, which is the approach that still holds sway in business schools today. He also introduces us to the idea of ‘conscientious brands’, which I’m sure we’ll be hearing more of.

Conscientious brands – this is brands that are authentic, transparent, true to themselves, and they have a clarity of purpose and stakeholder oriented. – Nicholas Ind

If you didn’t see the first part of our chat with Nicholas Ind, check it out. Back to part 1. Many thanks to Nicholas for his time and expertise. For further reading on brand, I’d recommend picking up one of Nicholas’ books on the subject, which you’ll find here. His latest book is Co-creating Brands: Brand management from a Co-Creative perspective, published by Bloomsbury (2019)