Urban Brand Utility: Impact Branding for the Urbanising Century

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The brand communications crisis is not an urban legend, albeit just as scary

Between 2001 and 2002, Brazil went through its largest energy crisis. The lack of infrastructure planning combined with economic growth forced the Government to ration the energy supply from its main urban centres, for intermittent periods of time. Back then, as a student living in São Paulo, I remember streets darkening as the sun went down. In one of those evenings, walking back home from university, two men driving a motorcycle stopped right in front of me. One of them jumped off the bike and before I knew it, he hit me on the head with the back of his gun and stole my backpack.

São Paulo is one of the many existing (and emerging) megacities feeling its ‘growing pains’ due to an increased demand for ever more comfortable lifestyles. From a strategic standpoint, although cities only occupy 2 percent of the earth’s landmass, they are where 75 percent of resource consumption and most brand communications are concentrated.

Moreover, the global media and advertising footprint also comes with a hefty environmental toll. In the UK, for instance, advertising is responsible for two million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, equivalent to heating 50 percent of London’s social housing, according to CarbonTrack.

Markets, choice and competition are not just a consumers’ best friend, but their political representation. Brands able to broaden their audiences from customers to citizens and their revenue model from sales to the creation of shared value will be the game-changers driving our industry forward. This is the type of thinking required to embrace Urban Brand Utility (UBU), an approach to brand communications I conceived and have been advocating for.

What Urban Brand Utility should look (and be) like: Useful, profitable and impactful

UBU is about using brands’ touch points as more than mere messengers to supplementing public utility services and minimising carbon dioxide emissions.

Such logic can turn brand communications into a regenerative force for cities, where the promotion of goods and services is not only more profitable, but also environmentally enriching and socially virtuous.

In Moscow, for example, Sberbank was approached by major Russian real estate developers to collaborate on better infrastructure planning in residential areas. People’s opinions on local needs fuelled targeted campaigns, promoting loans for small businesses. The ‘Neighbourhoods’ campaign generated nine times as many small business responses than traditional loan advertising.

In other words, people had their needs addressed as neighbourhoods became more attractive. The city increases tax collection from the new businesses being set up, which also reduces the cost related from having to deal with derelict areas. As the biggest Russian bank, caring about citizens is not just a nice thing to do but an effective way for Sberbank to positively impact its bottom line.

Citizen-consumers are important players in enabling business to tackle the issues that matter most. As important as it is to reduce the number of clicks on a consumer journey, improving our life journeys will often result in superior returns.

Aware that potholes, cracks and bumps in the road can cause irreversible damage to people’s pizzas during the drive home, Domino’s decided to pave towns across the US (using its branding) and save their customers’ pizzas from the bad roads. Obviously, not only Domino’s customers benefited from this effort, but every single driver going through the few selected roads.

This may sound silly, but according to the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission of the U.S. Congress, the annual investment required by all levels of government to simply maintain the nation’s highways, roads and bridges is now an estimated $185 billion per year for the next 50 years. Today, the nation annually invests about $68 billion.

Mayors and city managers from the municipalities where “Paving for Pizza” has taken place have acknowledged the creation of shared value. (…)

Sérgio Brodsky

Makalenin tam metnini https://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/marketing_comms/s%C3%A9rgio_brodsky/urban_brand_utility_impact_branding_urbanising_century adresinden okuyabilirsiniz.

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