I have some very good news. The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil or data, but human relationships. In the business world, words like leadership, sustainability, values, purpose, diversity, triple impact or talent, are a fundamental part of a group of brands that are transforming the way business is done, products are sold or services or experiences are provided. More than transactions, they focus on relationships.
There is a new generation of companies for a new way of creating value. And this movement, still in its infancy, has come to evolve the ways in which brands create, build and share value.
The people have spoken: less greenwashing, less socialwashing, less humanwashing and more action.
The distance between what we are and what we want to be is not what we say, it is what we do.
Let’s make a little history.
For thousands of years a TOTEM has been an icon that unites, connects and inspires people.
Ancient clans and modern tribes are connected through TOTEMs.
Interestingly, our ancestors over 116 centuries ago suffered from climate change, but they were also the first to discover and value TOTEMs.
Not as mere natural or decorative elements, but as creations and constructions that strengthened and united the group, clan or community.
Totemism can be observed throughout the evolution of human societies on all continents and in different eras, at least during the last 1,200 years.
Fear of change is the main disease of most brands.
En el pasado eran grandes elementos tangibles que aglutinaban a la tribu a su alrededor. El tótem tenía un lugar destacado y especial. Bailes, rituales, tributos, celebraciones y todo giraba alrededor del tótem.
In the past, they were large tangible elements that brought the tribe together around them. The totem had a prominent and special place. Dances, rituals, tributes, celebrations and everything revolved around the totem.
But the value of TOTEM did not lie in the physical, but in the intangible. In its binding force, in the perception of security, union and sense of belonging. The TOTEM was a figure that made the intangible tangible, therein lay its power.
If we review the evolution of totems over the last centuries, we can identify the totem element in its most original sense, which is a natural or man-made object.
From the mythologies of some cultures or societies of the past to postmodernism, it was taken as an iconic symbol of the tribe, community or social group.
Just by fearing mediocrity, conformism and inaction, one is already safe.
We can also see TOTEM with 21st century eyes, which synthesizes and represents a diversity of attributes and meanings for the linked group; making tangible the intangible: their stories, their myths, their values, their essence, their belief, their purpose.
And it is in this new dimension of union, shared values and sense of belonging that a new chapter in the role of companies and brands is opening.
Thousands of years later, the new TOTEMs are no longer as they were then, but they do maintain the most outstanding aspects of their symbolism, meaning and essence: for many they have a protective and security value.
People not only want to belong but also believe and therefore trust in their prominent role in this new society.
Modern TOTEMs are in cities, on screens, in the streets, on TV, social networks, offices, they are everywhere and they have a name: brands.
In the notable absence of leaders and referents, the TOTEMs have found an unexpected space in the existential vacuum of post-modern society. Even the new social construction has fallen on them, and not accidentally.
They assume their new role.
Social commitment, the fulfillment of its promises, a role that goes beyond making money, its human centrism and its vocation to improve the present to protect the future, are part of its DNA.
Uniting and connecting people.
It is in the talent of the people on the team that true value is built.
Post-modern tribes no longer just follow the brands they love, respect and admire, they join them.
Brands are today’s TOTEMs around which we gather to celebrate, to share, to enjoy, to recommend, to experience, to transform, to improve people’s lives.
Many companies today are worth more for their brands than for the other tangible assets that have always been taken into account. And this trend will become more and more pronounced.
A great brand generates great business.
Products in this era of planned obsolescence have a shorter and shorter life cycle. A great brand never goes out of style.
Because it carries in its actions an enduring message and a culture in its DNA that becomes a belief, a sense of belonging.
In this confusing, fast-paced, fast-paced world, great brands stopped at TOTEMs help define people.
A TOTEM is consistent.
It connects with people, makes them part of your story.
Digital transformation in the business environment demands creating a new organizational culture where people believe in the reason for the existence of TOTEM because it transcends the merely monetary, it makes people’s lives better. And that is why it makes money; and not the other way around.
Believe in and embrace change.
Towards the end of the 20th century, large companies began to focus on the brand rather than the product.
On the needs that the customer has, not on the stock they wanted to sell.
They transformed products into services, services into stories, stories into community.
Today, more than ever, the identity, the personality of a business is vital to achieve an adequate positioning.
The companies that focus their efforts on building a brand, interacting with and satisfying the real needs and desires of their public will be the ones that will be on the road to the future with the best tools.
For this reason, the business cannot be understood without a brand and its success or failure depends on proper branding management.
Today, companies of all sizes and in all industries are dealing with an ever faster and accelerating speed of change, a virtually unimaginable flow of information and an unprecedented role for consumers.
The most disruptive, admired, brave and beloved brands, now TOTEMs.
They are responding to this new reality by embracing their role as a change agent and enlisting their community as brand believers fighting for a cause they believe in.
People, employees, customers, clients, consumers, citizens, are looking for those TOTEMs that feel, live and show real meaning to believe in them.
They have in their DNA a belief in and commitment to improving the world.
We are entering a new era where brands are more conscious than ever, charged with input from believers who embrace meaningful change and who are committed to living the purpose, to raising awareness, to making money.
Ultimately, improving the world.
Today TOTEMs are born from the vision of a leader, a group of people, the work of designers, architects, engineers, artists, entrepreneurs and philosophers.
Creating and building a TOTEM with a sense of connection, pride and belonging is at the heart of everything that outstanding companies in the digital age are doing.
The fascinating thing about TOTEM is that it is practically read, pronounced and understood the same way almost everywhere in the world.
It is an icon that has transcended fashions, wars, cataclysms and all social, economic and cultural transformations.
It summarizes and represents what Branding is: making the intangible tangible; the purpose, the values, the trust, the essence, the belief, the feeling, the doing, the vision, the mission; and all with a method.
Modern TOTEMs are more than present in our lives, we gather around them to celebrate, to transform, to lead, to share, to co-create, to make, to feel, to believe and to create.
TOTEMs do not predict the future, they create it.
Post-modern society has adopted the TOTEMs because every individual in it is represented by one of them.
Individuals, in many cases, are defined by the brands they choose and many others cannot conceive their world without the presence of their TOTEMs.
Brands shape our relationship with the world and for brands this implies a great opportunity, but at the same time a greater responsibility.
Believers are mobilized when brands engage.
And the examples of TOTEMs inspiring change continue to grow. We are also witnessing the growth and development of companies that incorporate the goal of becoming more sustainable into their production and business model.
Reduce, reuse, recycle, redesign.
The keys to a more sustainable world start with everyone’s commitment.
Believers who are mobilized and committed.
Believers have a unique opportunity to work collaboratively so that the next generations will live better lives than we do. If we assume with emotion and responsibility that we are all part of the solution, the world can change.
Every small gesture, every detail that improves our behavior, plus the commitment of the private sector by adopting a fairer and more sustainable model and demanding governments to accompany such change, for the better.
While the transformation in the citizenry and in part of the business community is already underway, we must continue to invest energy to extend the commitments to create a suitable ecosystem for sustainable development.
It is essential to encourage and promote institutional and public-private collaboration, and to stop looking down on companies that make profits, because the more resources they generate, the more they will continue to grow and the more resources they will have to invest in making a positive impact and helping to build a better society.
We are all responsible for what happens to us, so let us be accomplices in the change for the better.
What does the future hold for the relationship between brands and people?
A new space for relationships, engagement, emotion and hope. The 21st century consumer will ‘evolve’ to consume brands in a different way than their parents did.
The new consumer will become ‘post-commercial’, attracted by meaningful brands, oriented towards shared values. At that moment, the brand will cease to be the representation of a product to become a TOTEM that will not have customers but believers.
The key issue in this new era is not so much the commercial issue but the social link; human relationships.
TOTEM brings people together, convenes, gathers, invites.
TOTEM is social because it is created by people and for people who share a common present and a common horizon, and beyond the conjunctures there is a mutual trust and a bond oriented towards a better life,
The brand-consumer relationship will give way to the TOTEM-believer relationship, and the social impact of your TOTEM will be proportionally related to your level of evolution:
From being salespeople to being connectors.
From having assets to building relationships.
From seeking attention to achieving attraction.
From selling products to offering experiences.
From polluting to sustainable.
From prioritizing the financial to empowering the human.
From seeking customers to building customer loyalty.
TOTEM has become one of the most relevant concepts in Branding/Marketing and its definition is part of the work in which brands must think and act today.
A hopeful future.
The only certainty we have about the future of companies: Branding will be inevitable.
Consumer expectations have evolved.
Today they are looking for brands that inspire them, that care for them and are committed to their well-being, but also that share their values.
In this context where there is the potential for sudden and radical changes to occur, people need to believe.
While the conflict between countries continues and causes them to lose energy, resources, time and a lot of money, the new power, the TOTEMs, now occupy an increasingly prominent place in the field of human activity, both at the macro and micro levels.
What your brand does demonstrates what your company believes in.
TOTEMs are reshaping the world we live in, and affecting the way we look at the world.
They are not defined by their size, budgets or turnover. They are defined by their talent, their commitment, their honesty, their transparency, their ethics, their purpose and the quality of their human relationships.
They embrace sustainability and diversity.
Its culture, its leaders, its inner believers give life and meaning to its mission.
They are aware of the historic moment in which they play a leading role, and they do so with responsibility and commitment.
Consumers no longer buy products, they buy brands. They choose their TOTEMs.
Brands have a unique and privileged position when it comes to influencing consumer thinking and inspiring positive behavioral change for society and the planet.
The transformation, in its broadest sense, is already underway, the era of TOTEMs has begun. An era that returns to the human and comes full of hope.