Peter Economides – BRAND ME!

yaic screen

The first inspirational talk can from Peter Economides, former Executive VP and Worldwide Director at McCann Erickson Worldwide, was called BRAND ME!: rebranding a city, a country, or yourself.

A compelling and relaxed speaker, Peter talked about how re-branding a company involves more than changing the logo and advertising – you also have to change the attitudes and behaviour of the staff. “You have to find yourself before you talk to the world,” he insisted. “You can’t do anything unless you connect back with yourself. When people feel good they do great things. It’s about how people feel…”

He talked about the “sweet spot” – that vague point where your strategy comes together within the context of what the market needs, what you want to do and what you can do. He looked at Angelina Jolie’s success as a “brand” noting that “a brand is everything you say, everything you don’t say, everything you do and everything you don’t do. Brand is reputation and managing reputation. Everything communicates. My dog has a brand.”

Some examples followed, such as Tony Hsieh’s quote that “every phone call is a chance to develop [his] Zappos brand”. Avis’ “we try harder” campaign, which helped customers support them as the “underdog”, and Simon Sinek’s quote about how “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it“. “Branding is the thing that makes me get up in the morning, the reason I want to write a book. Great brands tell great stories and those stories are centred on the why.”

Peter talked about the importance of narratives, making more examples like the CitizenM hotel in Schiphol Airport, and his own role in the re-launch of a bankrupt Apple back in 1997. “I met Steve Jobs for four hours and came away with two comments of his: ‘Let’s make a dent on the universe’ and ‘good enough is not enough’.”  The result was the iconic Think Different advert, which created a narrative that has helped Apple now become the world’s most valuable company.

Peter also expanded on the role of social media and its importance and how it’s changing the world. Examples came from the Johnny Bit My Finger video (650 million view), and the United Airlines guitar song, which got 150 million views and spawned a best selling book and places on high paying conference circuits. The video, Peter pointed out, cost UA stockholders $180 million. “Social media is not about media but a fundamental shift in the way people feel and act. Everything has changed. And in the same way, nothing has changed, since what we do has always been a basic human need to communicate. Facebook might disappear but social media won’t…”