Sir Martin Sorrell outlines new opportunities for branding

WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell has highlighted new branding opportunities and spelled out why brands are so important at an event at WPP branding consultancy The Brand Union in London.

Speaking at the event on Tuesday, Sorrell said, ‘In the long term, it’s all about branding and identity.’ He highlighted the shift in the balance of power globally, not just to countries like Brazil, Russia and China, but also to ‘the next 11’, including Bangladesh, Cuba and Pakistan.

He pinpointed events such as the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 as particularly important for brands in Brazil.

Sorrell said he perceives ‘a shift to the centre’ between global and local on the world stage. Local is becoming increasingly important, he said.

He spoke of over-capacity, particularly in Far Eastern countries like China, Japan and South Korea, and pointed to growth in the number of older people in countries such as Russia and the shortage of brands locally to meet their needs.

The Web and the expansion of companies such as Google, AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo beyond service-providing is creating new rivalries and opportunities for brands, Sorrell said. But he cited retail as the biggest challenge for brands, with companies such as Wal-mart and Tesco looking at global purchasing and other innovations.

Internal communications is, says Sorrell, a largely untapped market for most brands. He said he is ‘amazed at the lack of internal alignment’ in some of the biggest companies. His experience of WPP consultancies has shown that, ‘The best clients are those where [an internal communications system] is in place,’ he said.

The same is true of corporate social responsibility programmes, Sorrell said. He added that companies that once played lip-service to CSR are now taking it seriously, following the lead of high-profile players such as Sir Richard Branson and Bill Gates.

Finally, Sorrell highlighted the Government as ‘a very big client’ for branding consultancies. Its decision to change payment structures from 60 to 90 days will, he said, go against smaller consultancies that could be pushed to meet a monthly salary bill, but he sees opportunities for bigger groups, whatever the outcome of the General Election.

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  • Noonanio November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    If this is news then I think I know a lot more than I thought I did. The one thing that Sorrell seemingly forgets is that the wealth of the emerging countries is founded in large part on our (the West’s) ability to maintain current consumption rates, which as has been proved were way beyond our collective means and if he hasn’t then some of these countries in chasing our model will replicate our shortcomings also. ‘Local’ is obviously going to become more critical if and when the fuel ‘crisis’ escalates coupled with consumer spending retraction. So never mind consistently looking for new markets and trotting out the same old same old… innovation is the key for designers – as if we didn’t already know – even in existing markets and is now more important than ever. Is an ‘internal communication system’ just jargon for people talking to each other? or have I just become totally detached from human interaction. There will be massive competition in the near future, but this will inevitably spark the brightest creative minds into action, I for one look forward to the results.

  • Madonna Van Fossen November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Sorrell said he perceives ‘a shift to the centre’ between global and local on the world stage. Local is becoming increasingly important, he said. I totally agree!

    As Executive Director for the Oxford Downtown Development Authority located in Oxford MI (population in our Village 3,500; in our township 15,500) we are focusing on LOCAL to help our businesses survive. Yet we are partnering with neighboring communities in several areas because we realize we’re all in this together. We try to stay centered otherwise we become unbalanced thus increasing our chances of falling.

    On a global level, the same holds true, just like the saying “you’re only as strong as your weakest link”, globally we need to make sure all our “Locals” are in tact because it’s the “locals” that make up the global.

  • Lawrence Price November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Interesting that this article highlights the importance of brand design but that this is not necessarily reflected in mergers and acquisitions. Buyers that we, Rockworth, come across still favour measurement (market research) and channel (digital) than the creative content that design agencies produce that very often travels much further.

  • martin hall November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    by internal branding he means continuing the branding internally, as a way of motivating staff, making them feel part of a team and strengthening what ever the values of the company are, this can be continued to how things are communicated internally, as with Ford who have their own internal TV channel which keeps empoyees up to speed with what is going on with the company and makes them feel involved in the processes.

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