The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual Davos meeting brought together global leaders and business executives to discuss the many pressures and issues we face today.

Against a backdrop of climate uncertainty, social instability, war, technological disruption, and mass demographic shifts, the theme ‘Cooperation in a Fragmented World’ was all too fitting.

Yet amongst this shadow of doubt, the conversation in Davos was rounded off with cautious optimism:

"For me, the greatest lesson of the week has been that although the world is more fragmented today, it does not need to be tomorrow." - World Economic Forum President, Borge Brende

Economic pressures are set to ease, with the view that inflation is peaking and executives stipulating that the recession will only be mild. And the surprisingly quick rebound from China's reopening only added to this positive outlook. This prediction of an inflation plateau and subsequent easing gives brands a reason to continue investing.

Technology also took centre stage, where the advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) was brought into the limelight. This digital acceleration shows no signs of slowing down. The metaverse is demonstrating its application for an inclusive agenda, and the golden age of AI provides more reasons to bring people together with its applications in shaping green technology. And yet the integration of AI is only becoming more integral to brands. The rise of ChatGPT and DALL-E 2 are disrupting the mainstream. Soon, these savvy tools will integrate into the various advertising stages - from targeted ads and copywriting to brainstorming.

Riding this wave is the blockchain. Whilst the slump of the crypto-market and overshadowing of FTX collapse gives many businesses reason to doubt this technology, interest still remains as corporations turn to the promise of disruption it holds. However, through public uncertainty - given the current crypto news agenda - brands must tread lightly as they enter the Web3 world, focusing more towards its practical applications and less towards arbitrary PR stunts.

FutureBrand Madrid recently launched their XBETTERS (XB) work, which uses blockchain technology to improve transparency, payments and audience loyalty. The project's utility centres around physical and digital products and experiences for the holders of the NFT. Ultimately enabling more direct interactions between XB users, with the platform giving back something of value to their community.

What is certain, though, is 2023 will be a crucial year for businesses to place climate adaptation at the top of their agenda. Linking to the theme of cooperation, leaders agreed richer countries and corporations must put in more money to fight climate change, dissecting the onus onto brands to lead the charge.

We have seen this call for practical solutions from businesses play out in our 2022 FutureBrand Index. In this fragmented world, business resilience is put to the test, and future-proofed brands are the ones that are building the infrastructure and platforms on which human life will thrive in the future.

Consumer uncertainty is higher than ever before, and they are placing even greater importance on brands’ role in navigating this fragmented world. Today’s consumers expect businesses to work alongside governments to address the world’s most pressing global challenges. Drafting an inclusive, greener future has never been more important, and those leading the change need to be resilient, innovative and collaborative.

Image via World Economic Forum

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