Great presentation by my good friend Erik Roscam Abbing (@roscamabbing ) of Zilver Innovation.

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Comment by Syamant on July 17, 2009 at 12:20
Agreed on most points highlighted in the comments by Arne and Erik

The natural step is a sustainability framework that focuses on decision making focused around minimising impact to the external environment. The reason i mentioned this is that human centered decisions should keep this in mind. Branding , somehow , has not factored this kind of philosophy. The link to the Natural Step and Branding interests me..
Comment by erik roscam abbing on July 17, 2009 at 11:46
Arne and Syamant,

I don't think brands should be about manipulating what we want into what we need. I think that's exactly the kind of branding we've seen a bit too much of.
Of course we don't really need BMW's in the same sense we need food or health or shelter. But I don't think BMW is trying to trick us into thinking we do. Essentially what I'm trying to say with my presentation is that the brand is a manifestation of an organisation's vision, on how it wants to generate value for the people it wants to do business with. Regardless of whether this value satisfies a need or a want, it can only be valuable if it somehow connects to a user's context and life.
BMW has a vision on mobility and what it means for people (driving pleasure) and that vision is manifest in everything they do. And it's meaningful and valuable to their current and future target audiences.
In this sense brands are a platform to help organisations connect their vision to the the vision of users. And in this sense also they can be the stage on which future needs (or wants) can develop.
I am not fully familiar with 'the natural step' but I completely agree with Arne that brands (or at least human centred brands) could help organisations think more deeply about the needs/wants they can fulfil. And they can help users connect better to the wants and needs they look to fulfil when they purchase a product or a service. That's idealistic, I know. but that's also what branding should be about!
Comment by Arne van Oosterom on July 17, 2009 at 10:49
I'm not sure if I'm understanding you correctly. But here are some thought I had.

It's very hard to know if the "needs" of future human beings will be all that different. Needs don't change that much do they. We need healthy food, clean water, a healthy and safe environment to live, a roof over our heads, health care, education, an income, human interaction,sharing, love, friends, family, being part of a community (anything els).

Maybe I can name some more needs, but nowhere in this list will there be BMW, or any other brand, company, organization. That belongs to the stuff we want. And the "wants" change very quickly and are impossible to accurately predict. It can be manipulated, and that's what branding and marketing is used for.
It's trying to find ways to make us feel we "need" to have a certain product or service.

Maybe, and this is just a thought, brands could focus more on helping people reach, improve the things they actually need. Or at least focus on outcomes: I don't need a car, I need to get from A to B.
Comment by Syamant on July 17, 2009 at 9:33
Its a very nice insightful presentation. A question that comes to mind is should human centered branding also factor in principles like the Natural Step. In essence perhaps needs of future humans being kept in mind ... Would like your thoughts.


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