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It’s time for branding to save the world

As appeared in B&T Magazine.  February 20th 2009

The biggest new brand on the world stage in the last six months is ‘The World Financial Crisis’. Let’s call it ‘WFC’, not to be mixed up with other global bad brands like ‘UFO’ or ‘WMD’. In a short space of time it has risen to global market leadership in the bad brand stakes leapfrogging al-Qaida, AIDS, and Global Warming combined. It was spawned by real issues, and now the mere perception of its destructive powers is leading global consumers to stop dead in their tracks, ahead of any real need to.  

Economics and consumption are about trust and confidence. If we all believe it’s possible, chances are it will be. We need a new, big, positive, global brand to slay ‘The World Financial Crisis’ brand.  Yes it’s time for branding to save the world.

Of course branding saved the world in similar circumstances 80 years ago.  Roosevelt, the brand presenter, summed up the communications problem ‘we have nothing to fear, but fear itself’ and then introduced a branded solution called ‘The New Deal’. The 1930’s ‘Great Depression’ bad brand was slain.  The American Century has followed.

The modern world is littered with political and social branding that has defined its age and redefined its behaviour.  Churchill branded the ‘The Cold War’ beginnings with his ‘Iron Curtain’ phrase, and Gorbachev branded its end with ‘Perestroika’.  Geldoff’s ‘Live Aid’ brand is still a key vehicle for the music industry’s fight against poverty 20 years on. ‘Uncle Sam needs you’ helped mobilise a then isolationist US into the Second World War. 

So far the brands being bandied about by governments to defeat ‘WFC’ are at best uninspiring, and at worst are likely to induce pessimism and even panic. We are being offered “Recovery package” and “bank bailout”. They feel like band aid solutions.

We need a bigger idea or expression to capture the mood and need for everyone to act, invest and consume with renewed confidence.

Here are a few thought starter brands that could help, some more serious than others:

  • The New Deal 2: Works in the movies. Let’s hope the sequel sells as well as the original.
  • One World Alliance: Might have to pay the airlines to buy this brand. It could be a much bigger co brand alliance of global governments and businesses.
  • Prosperity Partnership: Always helps to have the benefit in the name.
  • Working World:  The kind of WW3 we’d all like to have.
  • WFD Busters:  The red circle logo already exists.
  • ‘Have a go’: Could an existing Australian brand save the world?

The good news is we have a gleaming new, telegenic brand presenter in President Obama, complete with the perfect family extras. I just hope that we get the inspiring brand language in his hands pronto. Until then, ‘may the force be with you.’


Julian Martin

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2009   2008




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It’s time for branding to save the world. Feb 09