Millennials believe brands have the power to change society.
Mike Flynn
Senior Director, Brand Strategy,
based in Landor San Francisco

The marketing world tends to run through buzzwords like the fashion world runs through styles—each year it’s something new. But just as every new generation recycles fashions from the past, this year’s Cannes marketers were recycling a term: brand purpose. 

Among the themes that spanned the content at this year’s Cannes International Festival of Creativity was that to succeed in today’s millennial-centric world, brands need to be purpose driven. 

While we heard it come to life through presentations from small agencies like the Manifesto Project all the way to big corporations like P&G, I thought it was summed up best in the seminar “Brand Purpose, Millennials, and the Epic Creative That Engages Them.” Here, a panel of top marketers from across the corporate, agency, and media landscape laid out the new expectations of brands from this powerful generation:

  • Millennials believe brands have the power to unite and inspire people, and even to change society. This is a significant shift from previous generations and forces the bar to be raised to a higher emotional ground. 
  • Millennials are rewarding purpose-driven brands that mirror their own values. Brands from Patagonia to Pantene to Honey Maid have found common ground with millennials, over which they’ve created deeper connections. 
  • Millennials seek interaction that allows them to self-express. It’s not enough just to have a point of view that drives a conversation. Brands must be open to inviting their audience in, even if it means they relinquish some control.

The panel went on to talk about some of the key principles inherent in creating a solid brand purpose:

  • A good purpose is about them, not you. A purpose should be developed not around what the brand owners think is important, but rather around what the audience they seek thinks is important. Ultimately, you should be asking, “Would anyone really care?”
  • A good purpose should have the potential to cause a stir. Brands should aim to create a point of view that does nothing less than spark a global conversation, ingraining them into the cultural landscape.

However, brands need to understand what they have the right to champion. They need to be cognizant of trying to take advantage of values about which people do not believe they have a “right” to have an opinion. A brand’s purpose doesn’t have to change the world, but it must change your world.

Like all generations, millennials are tribal people at their core. It’s why they seek to be part of things that are bigger than themselves. They choose their tribes based on the values they see reflected in them. So make clear your purpose, and chances are you’ll build your tribe.

Category: Brand purpose & sustainabilityTags: Millennials

World Cup branding

July 08, 2014
The beautiful game is now the branded game. But while mass commercialization has swept the sport, the magic of football is as enduring as ever.
Dominic Twyford
Client Director,
based in Landor Kuala Lumpur

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The World Cup is under way, and for five weeks, whatever the time of day, a global audience will be tuning in to watch the best national teams compete for the ultimate footballing prize. 

Football was once the working man’s game, but now it is a big business. It has global appeal—more than 3.2 billion people are expected to watch at least part of the tournament live on TV. Not surprisingly, given its global reach, the FIFA World Cup is now a brand in its own right, a brand that corporations want to be aligned with.

Money: The most influential football supporter

Estimates are that the 22 official sponsors and partners of the tournament have each spent between US$14 million and US$200 million to tie their brands to the World Cup. Interestingly, this outlay does not guarantee official sponsors the halo effect that one would automatically expect. Research released by Global Language Monitor this week shows that four of the five brands most associated with the 2014 World Cup are not actually official sponsors.1 

More troubling is the fact that the unofficial four are direct competitors of official sponsors. Beats by Dre has ambushed Sony, KFC has ambushed McDonalds, Nike has ambushed Adidas, and while Continental tops the chart as the brand most linked with the World Cup, Bridgestone, their unofficial challenger, sits just three places behind them.

Beats appear to be the big winner of this World Cup. To try to protect Sony’s sponsorship investment, FIFA banned Beats headphones from the World Cup. Despite this, the likes of Brazil’s Neymar and Italy’s Mario Balotelli were seen wearing them during training sessions. Beats’ film, The Game Before the Game, now has nearly 21 million views on YouTube and has received extensive media coverage. Beats has been successful because of its raw communications. Unlike the superslick, corporate feel of many sponsors’ communications, Beats has captured the intensity of the game and provided an insight into the minds of football players by telling the story of how the match starts in the changing room. In short, the brand has generated relevance with player and public alike.

Brand football still engages the masses

Despite the money that pours into football and concerns about football’s governance, ethics, and transparency, the game endures.

While the business of football may be tarnished, in its purest sense the sport still has the ability to connect with the masses and generate unrivaled levels of passion. Although brands have fallen over themselves to be associated with the sport, arguably the strongest brands at this year’s World Cup are those of the competing nations.

Consider team Brazil as a brand for a moment. It is more than a football team; it has a unique personality and represents a clear set of values and beliefs. It has global appeal. For decades, Brazil has produced the most talented players and entertained football fans. Its consumer audience, the Brazilian public, demands a certain style of play—success on the pitch isn’t enough; winning with stylish football is the prerequisite. These “brand” associations appeal to all fans of the game and transcend nationality.

The winning brands of the World Cup—whether product, player, or team—will be the ones that strip back the game to its fundamental components of raw emotion and passion. Capture these emotions and you can capture a global audience.


This article was first published as “The branding of football #worldcup2014,” in Marketing.

Image courtesy of Flickr and Paulisson Miura


1. “Beats tops Sony in first Ambush Marketing rankings World Cup 2014,” Global Language Monitor (23 June 2014), 

Category: Brand strategy & positioning
Landor created the rally cry that is fast becoming the anthem to help save these architectural icons.
Mara Proctor
Senior Client Manager,
based in Landor Cincinnati

Two of Cincinnati’s beloved buildings, Union Terminal and Music Hall, are in need of repairs and restoration. Just this week,the National Trust for Historic Preservation has named both buildings to its 2014 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places in response to the significant repairs needed at both sites.

Since its opening in 1933, Union Terminal has had a long and storied history, from the exciting times of World War II to providing space for three museums, an Omnimax Theater, and the Cincinnati History Library and Archives.

Built in 1878, Music Hall is Cincinnati's premier classical music performance venue. It serves as home for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, May Festival Chorus, and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.

Landor is proud to have created the rally cry “Hey Yo! Save our Icons” that is fast becoming the anthem to help save these icons. 

“We take a very broad view of creativity, which is why when I asked the team to come together to create a song they didn’t even flinch. We knew if we came up with the right lyrics and an engaging tune, we’d have something that could really animate the grassroots effort to save our icons,” said Mary Zalla, global president of consumer brands and managing director of Landor’s Cincinnati and Chicago offices.  

Cameron Butler, designer, wrote the song and sings lead on the recording. Direction, production, and lyric composition support was provided by senior designer Marty McCauley, designer Trey Zink, media designer Eric Hintz, creative director Scott Dannenfelser, and Mary Zalla.

“We hope people will seize this opportunity to use their voices to make a meaningful difference and loudly proclaim the region’s support for Union Terminal and Music Hall,” said Scott Dannenfelser.

We hope you’ll enjoy this behind-the-scenes making of “Hey Yo!” Visit to learn more.


Category: Digital & social media
Lasting memories from Cannes
Mary Zalla
Global President, Consumer Brands and Managing Director,
based in Landor Cincinnati

With my fourth trip to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity now behind me, and having thrived within the explosion of creativity and energy, I turn to writing this blog, if for nothing else, to organize my thoughts.

Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is nearly impossible to synthesize or summarize in its entirety, but I must make some sense of my experience this year. Though I can hardly link to every great piece of work or share the full remarks of all the compelling speakers, I would like to share my thoughts on what stood out for me and show some work that I’m still pondering days after the festival’s close.

Fresh perspectives on continued trends

The major themes of Cannes 2014 were not all that different from those of years past. While still providing fresh perspectives and unique insights, Cannes continues to reward purpose-driven and environmentally friendly brands and programs. In fact, Landor’s own Central Park Conservancy trash and recycling receptacles were awarded a Product Design Lion!

CPC_receptacle _close _up

A forum for thought

There were dozens of seminars and forums to spark the mind and fuel creative discussion.

One great talk was Holler’s presentation “Planning to Stand Up,” which put forth the notion that marketers could learn a lot from stand-up comedians. Such a bold idea immediately caught my attention. The presentation really stirred some thought. Any good stand-up comic looks for universal insights of everyday life and then finds a way to portray them in a funny light. It really isn’t that different from our goal as creative marketers and designers. For example, take a look at this video of stand-up comedian Peter Kay dramatizing the disintegration of a biscuit when dunked in a strong cup of English tea. From a marketing standpoint, he’s proving the insight that consumers need a biscuit that can stand up to the dunk.

Interestingly, all planners at Holler are required to train as stand-up comics and perform; the point being that a planner’s core skill is uncovering a new insight or helping his or her team memorably activate an existing one. The speakers told us that about half of the candidates refuse or don’t make it through the course, but the ones that do, turn into accomplished planners.

While I can’t say you’ll see me auditioning for the next season of Last Comic Standing, I applaud any effort that highlights the pivotal importance of insights.

Another notable presentation was one by SheSays entitled, “Why 80 Percent of Your Advertising Budget is Currently Being Wasted.” The focus here was that although 80 percent of  purchases in consumer packaged goods categories are made by women, women are woefully underrepresented in the creative leadership of agencies all over the world. I’d love to hear more from SheSays about how this problem can be solved. 

Exemplars of creativity

Great work is always on display at Cannes. I will share some examples that really stood out for me.

Guinness: Made of More

The ad features athletes in wheelchairs playing basketball. The spot seamlessly links the core functional promise of Guinness—Made of more—with a human being’s capacity for love and empathy. As the players depart the gymnasium and you discover their true physical capacities, it almost takes your breath away

The Belgian Guide Dog Federation

The Belgian Guide Dog Federation’s outdoor series uses a single photo to at once extoll the benefit of a seeing eye dog and also humanize the animal viscerally and completely as it is driven to look at what its owner would if he or she could. 

British Airways: #lookup, real-time flight billboard

Talk about activating the right media at the right time. This billboard outside of Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports and British Airways’ hub, features a child pointing at the sky and real-time flight information each time a BA plane flies overhead.

Mother Book

This one really pulls at the heartstrings. A remarkable product—a 3-D book for expectant mothers illustrating the 40 weeks of pregnancy, “growing” as the child grows and allowing space for writing one’s thoughts. The Mother Book is one product I will research next time I need a gift for a mother-to-be.

Other works that caught my attention included Volkswagen’s anti-texting and driving campaign; the Bentley burial stunt, which cleverly challenges us all to think about the practicality of organ donation; the beautiful Music of the People display; and Premier Tissues’ simple, yet engaging outdoor campaign.

Brands that challenge

Perhaps because I am due to speak at Georgia-Pacific’s marketing conference this week, where I’ve been asked to focus my remarks on how challenger brands can best leverage design, I was struck this year by some very strong programs from some challenger brands:

Taco Bell is a challenger to McDonald’s, especially with its entry into breakfast. But this challenger punched above its weight with its Ronald McDonald Loves Taco Bell new breakfast campaign. I found myself laughing out loud at this.

An advertising campaign for Harrison’s Fund struck an especially emotional chord. The purpose is to bring awareness and research dollars to Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a condition for which there is no treatment and no cure. Six words—I wish my son had cancer—perfectly and poignantly create the sense of urgency to do something.

Though it is World Cup season, I have to give a shout out to creative rugby team Cronulla Sharks, who drew in crowds by dressing decoys in their foes’ jerseys and feeding them to great white sharks, leading to the viral “It’s Feeding Time!” videos.

A note on the joys of France

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of a week at the festival, and I’ve not even mentioned the weather, which was splendid by the way. It was cooler than usually—lovely since the French are good at so very many things, but air conditioning is not one of them.

Cannes Fishing

The rosé—oh my, the rosé! Old Town, the flowers, the sea, the boats, the views, the creativity, the discourse. And amidst all of this, a universal truth revealed: everywhere around the world, old men love to fish. And in Cannes, they’re quite happy to do so with their shirts off.

And it will all be waiting for us again next year.


Category: Identity & design

Branding anti-brands

June 25, 2014
Aesop and Uniqlo make uniformity cool.
Preanka Hai
Client Associate,
based in Landor New York

Differentiation is touted as a cornerstone of strong branding: How are your products and services unique? How can you announce your difference to consumers? But there is satisfaction—and profitability—to be found in uniformity.

Two brands stand out in their abilities to reproduce uniform designs in thoughtful ways, each with its own strategy that demand consumers take notice and subscribe: Aesop, the Australian skin care line, and Uniqlo, the Japanese fashion behemoth that’s been making a killing with its basics.



Aesop is rooted in intellectual beauty—think about what you put on your skin; think about interesting problems; be a thinking person. Aesop’s website, for example, advocates “a healthy diet, sensible exercise, a moderate intake of red wine, and a regular dose of stimulating literature.” Products are sold in canvas pouches embossed with illustrations of brains and Einstein quotations—a nice, if heavy-handed, touch. When I visited an Aesop store, Italian futurism was the theme du jour for special-edition travel kits. Certainly, appealing to a shared intellect is one way of shimmying up to customers’ pocketbooks, especially to justify Aesop’s high price points. 

However, Aesop has developed an engaging and memorable platform that effectively hooks consumers. Since its founding in Melbourne in 1987, it’s mushroomed in key global markets such as New York, Paris, London, and Hong Kong. Through its retail stores, the brand has resurrected the feeling of a curated apothecary, yet the stores still feel refreshingly modern.

Part of indulging in the company’s all-natural skin care is, unsurprisingly, the pleasure of the packaging. The amber jars and typefaces are uniform and spartan; nothing feels frivolous. Aesop’s website notes that its “use of formulations is central.” Formulations, then, are central not only in the making of Aesop’s very products but also in the formulaic approach to its branding. Meticulous and nondescript rows create an assemblyline-like feeling in the store environments.

But look closely and you’ll see the details. Products are arranged only in odd numbers (“Odd numbers are more visually appealing,” Aesop’s marketing manager assured me) and each store is designed by a different architect to echo the micro neighborhood that it lives in. Aesop’s West Broadway store in SoHo, for example, is a collaboration with Boston architectural firm NADAAA designed to echo pre-twentieth-century apothecaries while still promoting twenty-first-century skin care. While the Aesop storefront comfortably inhabits its SoHo neighborhood, its under-the-radar, almost anonymous quality at once attracts the brand’s loyalists and distinguishes it from the other loud storefronts that crowd West Broadway.


While Aesop’s uniform packaging and subtle details define its branding, Uniqlo has taken a more aggressive approach to analyzing and targeting several categories of basic fashion. Uniqlo’s new chief marketing officer, Jörgen Andersson, posited that “almost everyone belongs to one of a few subgroups of style.” At a seminar entitled “Swedish innovations and high street fashion,” Andersson explained that the digitization of fashion translates into the mass (and quick) dissemination of trends. Large luxury houses still dictate the styles, but they trickle down to the high streets as fast as lightning. Large groups like Kering and LVMH “acquire smaller brands [and] help them broaden their customer offering, for example, by adding accessories, perfumes, and bags.”1 

Over the years, Uniqlo has become a stronghold of high-quality, affordable basics that harness the premium-ness now synonymous with Japanese design. Andersson identifies and caters to several subgroups, such as “Brooklyn guys with selvedge denim and beards.”1 Uniqlo may take an easy loophole with this designation, but as a profit-driven enterprise, its formula is not unfamiliar: Pinpoint what works and iterate. The result: styles that look and feel familiar. Surprising? Not really. Cool designs? Yes. 

Uniqlo has been smart about how it capitalizes on fashion trends. As with Aesop, Uniqlo’s retail environment is a critical element of its branding. The neatly lined walls of rainbow-colored T-shirts and cashmere sweaters are, according to Andersson, “so generic that [they are] instantly recognizable as Uniqlo,” a fact that belies the individuality suggested in the brand name.1 Doing very generic things very well resonates when it’s done right.


Aesop and Uniqlo both prove the value of understatement in a loud world. They stand out by virtue of their uniform and generic qualities, which they define consistently across their product design and retail environments. While they approach the space of the anti-brand through distinct tactics, their strong identities stop them just shy of being anti-brands. And in the future, the maintenance of these identities in a world of fast fashion and beauty will predicate the continued success of their respective brands.


1 Madelaine Levy, “Uniqlo CMO Jörgen Andersson on why consumer culture is ‘generic,’”Business of Fashion (1 April 2014),

Image of Aesop courtesy of Flickr and Stephane Houang. Image of Uniqlo courtesy of Flickr and


Category: Branded environments
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