“The US tax system needs an overhaul.”
“A policy rethink could control the sub Saharan population boom.”
“The World Bank’s leadership selection process no longer reflects today’s sources of innovation and economic growth.”

These are some of the sound bites from recent press.  Clearly there’s an underlying theme – a call for reform.  At Onesixtyfourth, we found this especially interesting given the results from one of our recent CultureQ studies.

We conducted the study with 763 news-engaged and earlier technology adopter Millennials and Baby Boomers in the US and UK.  Our original intent was to understand how attitudes were shifting as the old year turned into a new one.  What emerged from participants’ responses, however, was a far more profound perspective on our evolving social climate and the new rules for brand leadership.

It’s time for the role that brands play in society to shift

The over-riding message from participants – it’s time for the role that brands play in society to shift.  Unlike in the past, however, Madison Avenue and marketers are not driving this change.  Consumers, in other words people themselves, are appealing to brands to acknowledge the social significance they have and take on the role governments and political leaders are no longer effectively fulfilling. They are asking brands to use their influence, know-how and power to help shape a better future.

7 New Rules for Brand Leadership

So, what are the new rules for brand leadership?

Rule 1. Be Visionary: engage people through a clear view on how you inspire every day life.

Rule 2. Be Courageous: take considered risks that propel society forward and appeal to the cultural need for progress.

Rule 3. Be Sincere: while paradoxes are acceptable, contradictions are not. From the choice of plastics and fuel to the role of corporate shareholders, operations and delivery must honestly align with the promise.

Rule 4. Be Empathic:  understand what’s really important and identify with the values and ethics of the man on the street and what can be done to help or inspire him.

Rule 5. Be Transparent: be honest about what you’re doing and, importantly, what you’re not. People no longer want demigods; they want brands that mirror human characteristics, including the imperfect ones.

Rule 6. Be Efficient: strip out excessive bureaucracy and hierarchy; the more you are visible locally – not only virtually – the more you become an advocate for stakeholders not only shareholders.

Rule 7. Be Practical: satisfy individuals’ needs as consumers first by delivering solutions that give people more control over their own lives then move on to the community and the world at large.

Brands have already changed the way we communicate, eat, travel, shop, sleep, look, learn, entertain and so much more.  It’s no wonder people believe they have the power to also reform our world.