Inside FutureBrand: Pippa Nordberg, Strategy Director - London

23 August, 2019 Share socially

What is your role as a brand strategist?

My role is to bring clarity to complexity.

Increasingly the challenges both brands and businesses face are highly complex – driven by the erosion of traditional consumer behaviours and retail / commercial models, as well as rapidly changing socio-economic circumstances. As the world gets both smaller and more divided, it’s my job to help navigate through all of these factors and find the solutions that are not only right, but implementable and sustainable in the long-term.

Were there any influences growing up that made you choose a career in branding?

I’m a linguist at heart, and growing up was always fascinated by communication at its most fundamental level – how we make ourselves understood, and how important the nuance of just one word can be in changing meaning. That flowed quite naturally into a career in branding, where making ourselves clearly and compellingly understood and relevant is key to what we do.

Branding has become a complex topic, and it means different things to different people. What does branding mean to you?

Quite simply, it means story-telling. Brands are the ephemeral coating we place on tangible products and services, and yet we bond more strongly with them than things we can hold, experience and touch because they tell us stories – one of the most powerful mediums going back millennia.

What gets you excited about your job?

Defining interesting and ‘sticky’ propositions for brands. Yes, these are always based on insight, market and competitor data – but at some point strategists have to be able to take a creative leap and do something interesting and unique with that data. Finding that ‘aha’ moment is the most fulfilling for me (and one of the most critical abilities for a strategist in my opinion).

Where does the value in branding lie for CEOs and CMOs?

Standing apart from your competitors and building lasting trust and affinity that will help you ride the storms of market dynamics more effectively – as witnessed by our FutureBrand Index report.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your strategy?

That’s a tough one as so many external factors can impact the effectiveness of a strategy, but in more immediate terms it’s being able to explain it quickly, simply and clearly to my audience, and for them to get it. If I need 100 charts to put my argument across, then it’s not good enough.

What are the most important elements of the strategic process?

To robustly immerse, gather and analyse from all sources of data that will be relevant, but then to ruthlessly edit and reduce. Always ask yourself what’s critical information that helps communicate your idea vs. merely ‘bulking out’ a presentation. And always story-board your argument – it ensures that you know what you want to say before you try to say it.

How do you ensure your clients stay ahead of their main competitors?

Simply, this is about being curious, informed and educated – knowing what’s going on at a more micro level, specific to the client’s specific industry, but also ensuring that your view doesn’t become myopic by having a knowledge of key world events, movements and shifts and ensuring that you bring both points of view to the work that you develop.

How do you keep up with or look beyond trends?

By ensuring that I don’t look merely to ‘trends’ websites for my information. Those most certainly have their uses, but the more fundamentally important shifts that impact brands and businesses come from socio-economic factors, and understanding how these are likely to shape relevant trends allows you to be ahead of your game.

What makes a brand future proof? And how do you create one that is?

Being ready for the future means being aware of all the factors that will potentially shape your brand, your sales channels and your consumers, having a clear POV on those that you want to take a stand on vs. those that you will actively manage or navigate, and ensuring that your purpose and your experience align to deliver clearly on your brand’s mission and values. But equally, being nimble enough to be able to respond to factors that may be beyond anyone’s ability to foresee is critical – and that requires the humility to accept when decisions may have been wrong, and seek actions to course correct.