A decade redefined: Brand consultancy's 2023 feats and 2024 Arena play forecast

A decade redefined: Brand consultancy's 2023 feats and 2024 Arena play forecast

The world’s most valuable brand of the decade - Apple exemplifies this best: Ashish Mishra

Ashish Mishra

Mumbai: As we reflect on the transformative year of 2023, marked by technological leaps, environmental endeavours, and global shifts, the stage is set for the unpredictable landscape of 2024. From the evolution of artificial intelligence to the urgent focus on climate action, our journey unfolds against a backdrop of innovation and challenges. Join us as we explore the highlights of the past and anticipate the dynamics that will shape our world in the coming year. Welcome to a brief overview of the year that was and the forecast for 2024.

Here is the year-end quote below on behalf of Interbrand India & South Asia CE, Ashish Mishra.

Pride of emerging as India’s leading Brand Consultancy over our first decade

That’s what I felt through the year 2023. Pride as we completed our first decade in India. At our tenth anniversary, I felt a sense of satisfaction in building the world’s leading Brand Consultancy as India’s leading firm too.

From the first brief, we received a decade back -  a brief for a humbling job of painting the Aviation fuelling tank at the Mumbai airport; to having the top 10 branding jobs of the decade as our showreel – Godrej, Jio, Britannia, Infosys, Mahindra, Hero Vida, Truecaller, Rajasthan Royals, Polycab and Welspun!

Pride of elevating Branding from design to value creation through the league table of Best Indian Brands.  Satisfaction of leading the transformation of the branding space itself in India over the decade.

The year 2022-23 itself was a stellar finale to our decade in India, with as many as 7 branding jobs getting done in recent years – Britannia Come Alive, Switch Mobility, Hero Vida, Jio World Centre, Truecaller, Polycab and Welspun. We also launched a ten-year perspective on Brand Value Creation to mark the tenth anniversary during the Indian Brands 2023 launch in May this year.

Prescience was the other dominant emotion I went through in the year 2023.

Perhaps through the deep reflections during the tenth-anniversary milestone as also through stark realisations of the growing dichotomies in the world – business and overall.

Prescience for 2024: The emergence of Arenas

We may couch it as consolidation and the larger socio-political forces may have begun to believe their narratives. The fact staring us in the face is that after a few years of strong brand growth, we have entered a period of stagnation. There’s no bigger and more credible proof of it than this year’s Best Global Brands league table by Interbrand showing moderate growth in overall brand value among the world’s biggest brands.

Brands operating across Arenas will drive better growth.

Within this larger trend, the Businesses which have witnessed a rise in brand value, including Amazon, LEGO and Nike have all transcended their established category norms and play a more significant and meaningful role in society and consumer’s lives. We call this Arena Play and this is the biggest forecast driving the evolution and growth of brands in these times.

Simply because, as we continue to navigate economic and environmental headwinds, there is a need for improved business cases and better brand management to drive future investment and sustain growth. For these companies, a focus on brand rather than product plays a greater role in driving choice, meaning they can address more customer needs, within and across categories.

The common forecast from Best Global and Best Indian Brands 2023 highlights the disproportionate rate of growth for brands that move beyond their narrow categories to operate across multiple ‘Arenas’ – a term coined by Interbrand to describe the shift by brands from the constraints of conventional categories to a focus on catering to core human needs. By shifting focus from category norms to customer truths, Arena Thinking supercharges the growth of the world's most influential brands.

The world’s most valuable brand of the decade - Apple exemplifies this best. It originally played in the Connect Arena with iPhone but delved seamlessly into Thrive through the Watch and has had a tremendous response with its play in the Fund Arena recently.

Closer to home, some of the biggest value-creating brands of the decade have also transcended the conventional categories and have begun to operate in broader Arenas. Jio, JSW, Asian Paints and Adani are worthy examples of it.

To extend their presences across Arenas, Brands will go deep in their branding by defining their core richly

Brands will invest more time in identifying and re-engineering their DNA, looking at rebrands more like gene transplants, not mere refreshes or restages limited to the spruced-up externalities and their guardrails.

Pervasive branding – pivoting on an epic core into Arenas

Much like how instilling a moral compass in a child allows them to freely explore the world without the fear of going wrong; a rich and deep brand core allows the brand to explore its opportunities to stretch and express freely, and even radically.

This will help the brands blur the category lines to find their Arena and new business opportunities. Embolden them to shrug off the static positioning to dynamically lead the changing customer expectations through a series of iconic moves. Enable them to express seamlessly across the proliferating touch points by taking them away from the rigidity of identity into the flexibility of experience. So, the brands themselves can be set free to transcend the ordinary into the iconic.