We have now arrived right in the middle of that second half of the hyper-accelerated phase, where Western brands start to fall like dominoes. In the U.S. alone, hundreds of its world-class brands are being erased. From monster banking to mega manufacturing, some 73,000 stores alone will be closed in the first half of 2009, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. Overall a trillion dollars worth of branding imagery that took decades of image building is getting scrubbed out worldwide. The damage is so huge it can possibly be seen from space, as streets are less bright and the cities are dimmer.
The famous sky-high brand evaluations claiming values in the tens of billions of dollars are just about irrelevant now. The customers of the world now brag about their brand loyalty by stating the billions in bailouts given to their brands or by the size of their bankruptcies.
Years to Fix
The passage of 2008, where according to Bloomberg record-breaking losses were added to the tune of US$30.1 trillion in market valuations, is not just a tidy folder of time pulled from the Julian calendar — it’s rather a real basket case. Something that started years ago will take years to sort out. Nevertheless, it will create a forced change and alter the course to all aspects of our lives. This direct hit of the financial meteor wiping out a generational thinking will create a new landscape with chasms and voids that will have to be filled by new image leaders and new types of brand champions from far-away lands, and this will surely create new imagery toward new dynamics and positive changes.
The U.S. once again has a great opportunity to fully demonstrate a grand-scale nationwide rags-to-riches story, something which is a very original American craft. No other nation of the world has ever achieved this level of proven mastery of grassroots entrepreneurialism. Therefore, when combined, these turbulences will lead to some amazing: new global-scale cyber-models pointing to brand-new styles of delivering goods and services. There will be an explosion of change, from paperless newspapers, shopping-center-less shopping to office-less offices. For the last half century, growth was always measured by structural extensions, but now it will be expressed more by cyber-reach of customer base. This process will be difficult to adjust to for a while, but these new concepts will dominate the 2010-2020 business models.
Shift to the East
Asian and Gulf countries are in the race too. From high-profile, record-breaking mega-developments of Dubai to car projects like the Tata Nano of India, the cheapest car ever designed for the affordability of 1 billion new customers, some 43,000 big and small brands have hatched in Asia during the last 5 years and are getting some serious traction. India will soon demonstrate a $10 laptop for the masses and China a series of shockingly cheap, highly engineered products. Overall India is poised to lead the race. Despite that, there are only a few globally recognizable name identities out of this entire region; the power of this mega image shift is supporting their growth as these heavily populated regions are providing the fuel.
Talk about more change: The White House is where a black family lives now, and Wall Street is where CEOs panhandle the poor of Main Street. The echoes of O-B-A-M-A ring in every hallway, yet the meltdown looks like Niagara Falls, while the widely expected notions of a turnaround upon inauguration now seem ridiculous. “Americans know that our economic recovery will take years, not months,” President Obama said recently, according to Reuters.
The expected change and the constant breaking news of the financial meltdown have now become background music to everyone’s ears as now they all stare at the huge, city-size craters in their backyards. Somehow, the new realities are now only to be found in billion- and trillion-dollar issues, while million-dollar-thinking-poor-millionaires just have drifted away. The other new trends will emerge fast; if human toil really creates real wealth, will the hard-working poor nations be responsible to create the new global wealth? Will Harvard MBAs have to become experts on micro lending? Will old business models be put aside untill brand-new platforms emerge?
All during 2008, the power of media as a new intercontinental multimedia concoction has emerged as a new type of centrality controlling the minds of the new world. The global information flow is no longer like streams or rivers with dams and canals; rather, it’s more like Noah’s flood. Only the very lucky ones can get a boat ride, the rest simply drown. Every second, breaking news interacts with billions of emails and creates its own tsunami, making all the traditional delivery mechanism obsolete and burying all the advertising messages along with it.
Information-flooding is the new superpower; while no one really controls it, the information is now like water that finds its own flow. All the old delivery models are dead while new ones are not even hatched. In this chaos, brand-new mass-communication standards and great methodologies will emerge. With hundreds of newspapers for sale in the U.S. alone, the newspapers will have to become “paperless” online powerhouse portals — or else.
New Branding Reality
A new landscape will emerge in 2010, as new corporate structures of newly merged survivors will appear all over the globe. Advertising will emerge in an entirely different form, more like a digital plug to be attached to ringing cash registers as pay-as-you-go services and sales-first-and-bill-later type models will survive.
ICANN’s brand-new domain name platform will very positively shake the branding world on a global scale. The traditional costs and times to build global image and unique name identities will be cut by up to 95 percent in most applications. With 1 billion users on the Internet and 1 billion plus electronic devices in the hands of global customers, the positioning of the right name identities in the right applications will win the battles, and at times instantly. A study by ABC Namebank on the new global trends points to how new champions must capture the hundreds of deals now emerging on new cyber-branding structures.
On the positive note: So where are these new champions, what are they up tob and when will they emerge with bold new faces to greet the global customer base? Currently they are on intense research and pre-launch activity. The game is wide open, the race is global, the rules are ultra-sophisticated; some are embracing the hard facts, approaching it correctly to lead the charge as a phenomenal new global cyber branding age cometh.
Naseem Javed is recognized as a world authority on corporate image and global cyber-branding. Author of Naming for Power, he introduced the Laws of Corporate Naming in the 1980s and also foundedABC Namebank, a consultancy established in New York and Toronto a quarter century ago. He can be reached at[email protected].