by Marguerite Coetzee. It’s all relative. We tend to see what we expect to see — and what we expect to see is what we have been conditioned to see.

It’s through our experiences and inner workings that we frame the way we see the world. According to science writer, Brian Clegg, relativity is a frame of reference. It’s difficult (and sometimes impossible) for us to find the meaning of things in isolation — and so we need a frame of reference to give us context.

It’s when we break free from one limiting frame of reference that we are able to be innovative, creative and original. Brands have the opportunity to shape the way we see, think and live. It’s important to be considerate of what frames of reference we draw on, and what contexts we create.

Work for all

Entrepreneurs have a way of looking at the world in a different way. Generally, these visionaries are driven by the desire for progress (linear, consistent improvement or change) or the need to survive (meeting basic human needs). In the marketing world, we often get so caught up in the idea of category growth (survival) that we sometimes lose sight of what growth in ‘share of life’ might look like (progress) — purpose, responsibility, enrichment, prosperity, possibility, and more. It’s in adapting to the times and reinventing themselves (without compromising on their core belief) that brands not only remain relevant but thrive.

For three decades, Nike has lived by the “Just Do It” mantra. In keeping up with social shifts, recently South African athlete and gold medallist, Caster Semenya, joined the team of athletes who feature in Nike’s latest short film series, Dream Crazy. The campaign is intended to showcase what happens when you persevere, overpower, overcome and take a stand — when you set aside your hesitations and adversities, and just do it.

What’s next

We have seen shifts between different types of economies. Globally, we have seen a move from an agrarian economy (extracting commodities) to an industrial economy (making products) to a service economy (delivering services) and, currently, find ourselves in the experience economy (staging experiences).

Some researchers, theorists and experts anticipate a purpose economy (changing the world through impact, growth and belonging), and others are already experiencing an access economy (sharing, borrowing or renting — rather than owning).

If this is the direction the world’s heading in, brands need to shift from encouraging passive consumption to active participation, shift from being diverse to inclusive, and shift from responding to what is happening in the world to initiating movements.


Marguerite de VilliersMarguerite Coetzee is an anthropologist at strategic marketing consultancy, Kantar Consulting. FastForward, the latest series in her regular column on MarkLives, takes an intellectual, scientific and artistic approach to the future – particularly the future of Africa.

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