Private equity firm Blackstone just hired chief strategy officer Jonny Bauer away from ad agency Droga 5 to head up a group it is calling Brand Transformation. To start, he will work in an area overseeing 200 companies. This warms my heart. It’s proof of concept that smart and monied people are starting to see the huge value of brand strategy in business fundamentals.
When digital came on the scene a couple of decades ago, it took a while for the big consulting companies like Accenture to see it as an opportunity zone for business transformation. Now all the big consultants have digital groups – stealing revenue from ad agencies.
And with this announcement, financial equity groups are getting into branding. Next, and I hope it will be quickly, will come the VCs. (One VC in Boston, G20 Ventures, is already providing brand strategy for its portfolio start-ups.)
Brand strategy used to mean what advertising idea can we hang our hat on to leverage sales. Or, what tagline will drive consumer behavior. Or, what design elements will lock down identity. Today, it’s so much more – it’s “an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.”
And as we like to say in brand planning, when you “follow the money” you now are finding new groups of cohorts lining up a the trough.
Good luck Jonny!