As our tagline goes, OnBrand is all about ‘uncovering the future of branding’. Of course, branding is a broad discipline that's more than the sum of its (moving) parts: marketing, design, advertising, technology, and everything in between.

Inevitably then, OnBrand brings together quite the eclectic bunch of experts from many disciplines that affect branding, with talk tracks ranging from the data x creativity dichotomy to the cultural role of brands in today’s society.

Positioning ourselves at the crossroads of marketing, tech, and creativity is the strength of OnBrand, so we thought we’d help attendees out before the big day by outlining a diverse selection of some of the topics to be explored at this year’s event. After hearing from our speakers, you’ll be well on your way to being a thought leader yourself.

Here’s a round-up of five conversations to be explored this year, and what you can expect to learn.


Has the concept of “brand purpose” become the over-exploited cliché of today?

It’s safe to say brand purpose is one of the most talked about and contentious topics within the industry today. We even have a whole talk track devoted to it—Beyond brand purpose—given that the theme has attracted so much attention in recent years.

And this makes sense: branding experts have long been preaching the importance of “having a purpose” and “taking a stand” on society’s most pressing issues, because frankly, this is what modern consumers expect: brands need to use their powerful platform for a good cause. In the wise words of Spiderman’s Uncle Ben,“with great power comes great responsibility”.

This has led to some really inspiring movements fronted by some of today’s biggest brands—Nike, Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s spring to mind. But there’s also a flipside, most notably in the case of Pepsi’s cringe-inducing attempts to appear ‘woke’, with a little help from Kendall Jenner.

In this context, Alain Sylvain, CEO of Sylvain Labs and OnBrand crowd favorite, will be asking the question: has ‘doing good’ become appropriated for the wrong intent, with many businesses self-righteously exploiting purpose for the sake of wholesome marketing and PR points? This begs the further question: can profit and purpose really align, and what is the key to doing ‘brand purpose’ right?

We can’t wait for this talk and it’s sure to give a fresh perspective on such a popular talking point. To tide you over until then, our interview with Alain is a great teaser.


Can brands make a real difference in solving the climate crisis?

Following up on the broader theme of brand activism, this year’s OnBrand will host a panel comprised of multi-disciplined, eco-conscious brand experts—all on a mission to drive positive impact in the backdrop of an increasingly worsening climate crisis.

Pairing agency insight with longstanding business experience, the panel will take stock of an ever-changing social and political landscape, and make the case that brands and business leaders need to not only adapt, but lead the cause for positive change.

Undoubtedly of relevance to everyone, this is a conversation we all need to get involved in.


How can European tech companies effectively challenge the Silicon Valley monopoly?

Silicon Valley is often put on a pedestal and viewed as the Mecca for tech innovation, which is not surprising. The way we watch, shop and scroll is overwhelmingly controlled by a handful of tech giants located within a 20-mile valley north of Santa Clara. This begs the question: what makes them so special, and how can European tech companies successfully challenge the West Coast monopoly?

Neil Barrie, the Co-founder and Managing Partner of brand consultancy firm TwentyFirstCenturyBrand, believes the answer is a complex one. Yet he strongly believes that the lack of purposeful, culturally relevant brand-building among many European tech companies is a major factor.

With his experience working on the West Coast, most recently leading the global creative strategy for Airbnb, Neil will make the case that European techies need to embrace the models of 21st century brand-building that’s so prevalent in the US: being purpose-led, community-driven, tech-enabled, and heavy on the narrative—championed by the leaders and CEOs.


How to tap into your intuition and actually listen to your audience

Listening to our audience is the bread and butter of marketing. What are our consumers into right now? How are they reacting to your attempts to grab their attention, and what can you learn from it? Despite there being more data at our fingertips than ever before, sometimes you’ve just got to follow your intuition—conviction and decision-making that just ‘feels right’.

Jason Fulton has been invested in creating closer relationships between people and big-name brands such as Nike, Converse, Sonos and Huawei for over 10 years at people-centric agency, This Memento.

At OnBrand, Jason will make the case that today’s marketers are often painfully slow at realising that our audiences are no longer tuning in to us. He’ll explain why tapping into our intuition and empathically listening to different perspectives is the key to really 'getting' our audience, and bringing about impactful change.


When proving the value of creativity, are we looking at the wrong metrics?

The Strategy Director at renowned creative agency Jones Knowles Ritchie, Andi Davids, is making a bold statement:

Everything you think you know about creativity is wrong, and I can prove it.

Or at least, that’s the hook to get you listening. Really, she can’t actually prove it—which is the whole point she’ll make in her talk. Proving the bottom-line ROI of creativity has been something of a Holy Grail in the world of marketing, with opinions varying wildly on how measurable creativity can be.

Data analytics has provided us with more accurate and sophisticated metrics than ever before, and we’re all told to “be more data-driven”, yet we still struggle to prove the value of creativity.

Andi thinks it’s because we’ve been measuring the wrong thing, and challenges us to take a step back: define what creativity is, recalibrate the metrics, and take stock of the things you just can’t measure.

Has Andi found the Holy Grail to the age-old question of proving creative value? Maybe not, but she’s sure to guide us in the right direction!

Teasers of other topics to be explored this year...

We’ve only scratched the surface of just how many talking points will be covered at OnBrand ‘19, so here’s a short and sweet list of other themes you can sink your teeth into on the day.

How to create content for a new generation

How the origin story of the ad man stands in the way of acting like a hero

How breaking the rules and ditching the script can win the hearts of customers

How do we bring emotion back into business relationships?

How can brands ignite human emotion and imagination with a balance of data & creativity?