What the hell are we



The Brand Value in Post-Corona Times.

In the corona era, business news is filled with reports of value destruction and high losses. We hear about the crash of the stock market indices resulting in trillions lost. At the same time, we experience food brands struggling to adapt their logistics in response to the increased demand. And we watch as the prices for scarce but vital goods like skyrocket. Implications that reach from abstract indices to the concrete value of products or brands.

In doing so, does the corona crisis make it clear to us what is truly vital and thus valuable for us humans?

Have we taken a dramatic fall from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – from the top of individual needs to the foundation of basic needs? Or is this all just a passing phase and economy and business will soon return to their previous fast pace?

No. Now is the time to reflect on the true values of life – and with them, on the true values of brands.

It is a unique momentum to rethink the valuation parameters of brands and their meaning for mankind.

What is a brand’s worth? The various valuation and calculation methods are mostly based on business management ratios. Balance sheet values, degrees of awareness, market penetration (distribution), price positioning and margin, or even image values. Various consulting firms develop brand-value indices and publish annual rankings of the most valuable brands worldwide, with each index representing the result of a colorful mix of calculated parameters.

But are these parameters really relevant? Relevant for whom? For the consumers? For investors? For banks? Or even for the vanity of the brand owners?

A brand is so much more than the simple reduction to quantitative factors. A brand is a mark of quality – a seal of quality – for all characteristics that people associate with the product or service. A brand is all-encompassing.

We need to maintain all-encompassing conception in order to considerably expand the valuation horizon for brands.

Now is the time for us as marketeers to slam on the break and establish a new valuation standard for brands.

Stop developing additional line extensions and launch further diversification portfolios. Finally take care of the core of your brand!

Stop short-term rituals like weekly reports, quarterly business reviews, and annual planning!

Stop defining capitalistic KPI’s and purely growth-oriented factors like sales shares, market shares and contribution margin!

Stop looking at the DAX every day!

It is NOW. It is TIME.

Time to set new valuation standards for brands.

Corona is forcing us to slow down. Corona is forcing us to think about ourselves and our lives. Corona is forcing companies to develop and enforce new work rules. And doesn’t that also include thinking about the contribution my brand can make in this world?

What value does my brand actually have in this post-corona world?
What value does my brand actually contribute to our well-being tomorrow?
Does my brand make a social contribution? Does my brand contribute to sustainability? Does the environment remain in balance with the existence of my brand?

The scientific community and even the Green Party are already discussing new standards of assessment to determine the prosperity of our society.

The common-good economy establishes an ethical economic model.
A model that declares the well-being of people and the environment as the primary goal of economic activity.

So let’s be pragmatic and plan our brand according to values like:

  • meaning and social impact
  • human dignity and ethics
  • contributions to community
  • environmental sustainability.

In practical terms, this means seeing the brand far beyond merely the context of the target consumer. It means seeing the brand not only in the micro-context of direct competitors, but in a much larger macro-economic and ethical context.

Would Lufthansa’s value have plummeted to such an extent in the corona crisis if parameters oriented for the common good had been applied? These past weeks, we have been struck by images of countless parked aircrafts at the Frankfurt Airport. 98% fewer passengers in corona times. But doesn’t this very crisis make us aware of just how crazy and thoughtlessly we have all boarded aircrafts in the past? Made possible thanks to extremely low prices. Post-corona is our chance to add new value to flying. Because flying is not only a movement from A to B, but also an ecological disaster. And the latter is currently not included in its brand valuation. For Lufthansa, this moment represents an opportunity to ask itself what common values it wants to stand for in the future. Are national flight connections part of the long-distance longing that Lufthansa undoubtedly serves? Isn’t this the role of the railway system? And the closure of Germanwings can only have been the first step. Concentrating on its core values as a premium travel provider will also raise the question of Eurowings’ right to exist for Lufthansa. Air travel needs a new value. No longer an everyday occurrence, but a unique, lasting and valuable experience.

Thanks to corona, the value of system-relevant and regional brands is also appreciated again.
In corona times, we value Edeka and Rewe not only for their value for money, but indeed for their lived passion for food. The heroes of everyday life – on the shelf and at the checkout. What values have employees secured for the food companies in these times? Courage, loyalty and much more. And that is worth something to us. Because we are prepared to pay higher prices for it. Food is worth more to us again.

Through corona, we the consumers are becoming aware of the feeling of powerlessness that globalization has yielded in the pharmaceutical sector. Will we place more value in medical products and services in the future – including in the sector of medical care?

We are now aware of how sacred culture has always been to us thanks to our current inability to experience it live. We watch and listen to concerts from orchestras and musicians from the comfort of our own homes – and in doing provide support to more than just the streaming services and game console brands. The previously analogue offerings of cultural institutions, now available via streaming, are also worth something to us. Still in the early phases, but certainly a dynamic category with perspectives for the future.

All these examples emphasize that now is the time to reassess brands and put them into new contexts.

The current wide-reaching discussions on purpose are already moving in the right direction. But it is no longer just about a brand’s sense of purpose or right to exist. It is about the values with which brands surround themselves and which they should stand up for. What are the core values of a brand in a public welfare-oriented context? And for how many people are they relevant?

So no more, more, more in the quantitative sense.

Instead, we need the courage to achieve more diverse, public good-oriented values with the brand.

Combined with the courage to achieve saturation – or rather satisfaction — for a brand among certain target groups, certain regions, and certain segments.

It’s not about growth at any price. But growth for the benefit of the community defined regionally, nationally or globally. And in that case stagnation in Germany can also be a success if in other countries value growth still makes sense for the common good and the economy.


Because this approach decelerates us. Because this type of planning helps us to concentrate on the essentials of branding. On the core of the brand. On the quality. On ethics.
Here’s to the happiness of people. Here’s to doing good.


Less blah-blah. More ah-ha.

“If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter.” With such smart insight, Goethe would probably be one of the best copywriters and conceptors today.

After all, the strength of a message is based on the core of an idea. In short: the short version.

The misconception: If you don’t have much time, you can make it shorter. In fact, the opposite is true: When we lack time, we pack as much available information as possible into one text. An email. A message. A briefing. A strategy. A presentation. A Facebook comment.

By 2017, Twitter had already increased its number of characters from 140 to 280. Because we don’t always have time to focus on the essence of a thought.

Now time is the new currency. And it’s worth our investment. To shorten a text, no matter what, no matter who it’s for, bit by bit. No unnecessary repetitions. No fluffy filler words. Nothing between the lines. Fewer ifs and buts. More what do I actually want to say, and, how much do I want to say.
The clarity lies in the brevity.

Anyone who manages to keep it short is often one step ahead of others. Crisp messages surprise – and are surprisingly well-received. Best case scenario: They are memorable.

Of course, it’s not everything. You need a good idea. And that needs, you guessed it, time.

I’ll end with a very brief book recommendation:
Max, Mischa & the Tet Offensive by Johan Harstad.
A moving 1248-page story. There’s a lot to enjoy! But who knows, maybe 1248 pages is how the author keeps things short.

Thnks fr yr attntn.



People make the brands

Why is the brand “Germany” under Angela Merkel so badly received internationally? Why is the USA under Donald Trump currently doing so much better?

Why are Die Grünen with Team Habeck & Baerbock or AfD with the Weidel & Gauland duo currently so successful? After Schröder, Gabriel, Schulz and Nahles, why is the SPD so far removed from its status as ‘the people’s party’?

Why did Bayern Munich hardly win under coach van Gaal? Yet coach Heynckes helps them win the triple?

Why does a brand like Deutsche Bank struggle today and why is a brand like Adidas so successful?

It’s the people, stupid.

“Brands make people” – this is the marketing point of view of everyone who works in marketing.

“People make brands” – is a perspective that we tend to ignore.

But behind brands like Deutsche Bank, SPD, Bayern Munich or Adidas are people. People with their very own qualities, characteristics, visions, knowledge, experience, attitudes and values.

It is these people with their very own individual backgrounds who make the brands.

They put their goals on banners (or get them written into their contracts), they are constantly rearranging their teams and also getting new teams through agencies.

All these minds shape the life cycle of brands with their energy, their thinking and their expertise. They can increase, extend or even shorten that life cycle. Often significantly.

Which of you marketeers out there prioritizes the love of the brand in their career choice? Let’s be honest. Hand on your heart. Isn’t the salary or the company and one’s own career most important? At the top management level, profilers are used to screen prospective CEOs. Meanwhile, pitching is still being used to select agencies, a process with a sell-by date that expired long ago.

But, honestly, who is examining the people who will work for the brands? Who looks at whether the values the brand stands for can also be credibly and sustainably represented by its leaders?

To do this, you can establish processes that determine whether there is a “brand fit” – between people and brands.

Exactly what happens routinely for a potential customer base (a.k.a., the target group, as it’s known in the depths of the market research jungle) should also be implemented for the people who are supposed to work for the brand.
A process to gauge whether there is a shared mindset between person and brand.

For this, there are profiling tools or initial chemistry meetings which can at the very least reveal whether you can work together.

However, the recruiting process requires more systematic methods that can be flexibly applied to every company, every hierarchy and every brand.

So go on, work with your headhunter and HR to let the right people work with the right brands.

#brandship #brandfit #peoplebusiness

It's the purpose folks.


“To create a better everyday life for the many people.”

What Ikea so simply expresses in its vision can safely be regarded as the essential recipe for success for any company.

The purpose, or whatever we like to call it:
The determination, the goal, the overriding vision of a company is rapidly gaining importance outside of innovation panels, trend lectures and specialist literature.

In fact, we’ve found ourselves talking more often with customers, teams and partners about a “purpose-founded revolution”.

This fits into our time, in which sustainability, transparency and authenticity are rapidly gaining importance for brands. Meanwhile classic marketing is undergoing a dynamic change.

In the future, more and more successful brands will be those that manage to place meaningful added value at the center of their actions – while clearly communicating it. Regardless of whether the purpose is about improving individual living conditions, saving time, customization, self-realization or sustainable enjoyment, the business models of the future need to be rethought.

It is also important that we stop defining success only in the classical sense of shareholder value through growth and profit, but also in completely new categories.

At the same time, companies must improve their soft skills and use innovative technologies to measurably strengthen their empathy both internally and externally, to develop more understanding and to gain a deeper know-how for teams, partners, customers and users alike.

Brands and companies that can stand for a convincing purpose won’t just live it themselves, but will be amongst the most successful brands of the future.


You need to understand that life isn’t what you’re given, it’s what you create, what you conquer and what you aim to achieve.


No touchpoint resonates like music.

For us record collectors, brands go by a different name: labels. These brands are much more than just generic music publishers. Labels have their own kind of magic, encouraging DJs to create signature styles and interpret the spirit of their fans via a 12-inch disc.

Labels are brands that vinyl lovers willingly lose their hearts to. They succeed thanks to their unbeatable touchpoints: songs.
The products that record labels create naturally deliver a unique user experience. Collectors use the songs to celebrate the parties of their youth and survive the crises of growing up. Hardly any other product can resonate with, and unite, its customers like music can.

As a lyricist and record collector, I believe that brands can learn a lot from record labels. Labels live Brandship in its purest form. They offer people unique horizons of experience, charge their logos with irresistible appeal and have the kind of fanbases other industries only dream of. Any brand that can touch people emotionally in the same way as a record label does, won’t just have customers, but friends for life.


Native Ads for Digital Natives.

How do you reach your target group on its own turf, during their recreational time online?

These days, a large extent of recreational screen time is spent on paid streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV+, etc., which claim to be “ad-free”. But how ad-free are these providers really?

Was YouTube ad-free 10 years ago or was the advertising just not made obvious yet? Was Instagram once also ad-free or did the so-called influencers just not have to tag their advertising messages with *Sponsored Post yet?

Anyone who grew up with a television set can define a commercial break. You are warned – with cues like, “Here’s a video from our sponsors!” or “We’ll be back after his short advertising break”!

But ‘Generation YouTube’ had a much harder time distinguishing between advertising and a personal recommendation. The result of this grey area? Influencers. People who share their daily routine, their living space, their eating habits, their social lives, their makeup routine, their workouts, their philosophies and their interests by clicking Record.  Oh, how advertising has changed.

Online advertising takes on so many forms, it has become difficult to grasp. Instagram is probably the best example of this: Promotional messaging seamlessly infiltrate your social circle and the people you’re interested in.

It’s normal to click through “stories”, daily routines or shared interests of strangers, acquaintances and friends. This is exactly where advertising swoops into the media you have personally chosen.

Fine-tuned, tailored advertising suddenly doesn’t seem that annoying anymore. Whether it’s more or sometimes less clearly recognizable as advertising, it flows into our personal screen time as if by magic.

Let’s get back to streaming: Paid screen time where you don’t expect to be confronted with advertising. But with subtle product placement, of course, advertising is still present. Sooner rather than later, it will replace our well-known commercial breaks on television.

Whether it’s via a podcast, series or influencer: In personal, highly sensitive moments, information is disseminated through product mentions or placement so that we can associate certain emotions with the products.  Emotions that connect. Man and brand. Brand and human being.

Even if revolutions cannot be predicted and are often gradual, I assume that things will change. Advertising will shift even closer to where its respective target group spends its time. Into our virtual, emotional world. Into our new favorite series, during a key scene or cliffhanger ending. In our new favorite podcast, hosted by our new celebrity crush…

Because “digital” is, after all, human.


Matchpoint: Style Group.


Language is a touchpoint – a matchpoint: In the end, all communication is about finding common ground. It doesn’t matter where people come from, what they look like or what traditions and rituals they bring with them. What is important is that they can communicate with each other.

Our Tip: Look who’s talking!

It’s all about a style group’s identity and culture. Do brands speak their language or does the message pass the stylegroup by? The goal should always be to reach the target audience – to catch the individuals who are the brand’s perfect match.

It’s important to also note that target audiences are now more diverse than ever before. An audience may speak one language even if it’s individuals come from very different backgrounds.

Communicating on one level is thus not enough; the right messages must be deliverd so that each member of the audience feels adequately addressed.

Similar to interpersonal communication, when it comes to brand communication, emotions are an important driver. The right message coupled with emotions can lead to the perfect match – because brands alone may no longer carry the full persuasive power needed to reach their audiences. Authentic, emotional stories and visual worlds must be created that reflect the audience, thus allowing them to easily identify with the brand.

Today, brands are called upon to tell diverse stories in order to stand out from the more homogenous masses.