New World Manifesto, by Starcom’s Racha Makarem

Starcom CEO Racha Makarem offers a guide to looking back on 2021 and forward to 2022.

It’s incredible to think that we are a few short weeks away from wrapping up this year and starting another. As is common practice for many of us at this time of year, it’s an opportunity to introspect and reflect on the past 12 months, as well as to start anticipating where we are heading for in the new year.

As businesses, we are always trying to predict ahead, especially in an industry like ours that can be so volatile. So perhaps this year predicting where we are heading is not going to be the biggest challenge, but rather the implications our predictions and actions will have on communities, businesses, culture and the future of growth.

What I want to highlight here is similar to that of a New World Manifesto. The reason I say this is because we live in times when a declaration of some sort that outlines our beliefs, motives, intention and plans is key as we continue to adapt, and is especially important if we want to stay relevant for tomorrow.

If there is anything we have learned about humans over the past few years it is that we are quick to adopt new behaviours. The reason is simple; it’s because we want not only to survive but to thrive no matter what chaos is thrown our way. Perhaps none of the thoughts I’m sharing are particularly revolutionary to you reading this now. However, the importance of agility and adapting to new ways of thinking as a business are topics resurfacing again as we start closing the chapter on this year.

Take a market like the UAE, for example. The mindset of consumers in this particular region has shifted over the past few years to the point where a recent study showed that 64 per cent of consumers believe they have the power to force corporations to make a change. They also believe that CEOs of businesses should hold themselves accountable not only to their stakeholders, but to the public as well. What these insights tell us is that the consumer mindset and expectations are changing.

This change begs the questions: Do businesses need to start rethinking their priorities? It doesn’t just stop with your consumers, though; activism is also on the rise within the workplace, with one in two of those who are employed agreeing that they are more likely today than a year ago to engage in workplace protests if they strongly disagree with a company action or policy.

What the above really translates into is that in order for companies and brands to grow and stay relevant, they need to build trust and start marketing to the citizen rather than the consumer. This requires a paradigm shift in thinking and culture. It is moving from short-term gains and a transactional relationship with consumers to lifetime value customers who are loyal to an organisation and its brands. It gives permission to companies to start being true to themselves, being authentic and marketing with values as well as a sense of purpose.

The best way to build your brand’s sense of purpose is simply to create your own manifesto. Here are some starters for you to think about while creating it:

1. Define your purpose. Why do you exist? Think about your raison d’être and how you want people (consumers, your team, partners) to think about your brand and organisation. Think of how that purpose comes to life in the culture you build and the products and services you offer.

2. Align the organisation’s sense of purpose with its performance. Make sure to set KPIs and success metrics to measure it as well as to hold people accountable.

3. Build a sustainable growth plan by creating meaningful human experiences and connections. Know your customer. Drive personalisation, relevance and scale whilst leveraging tech solutions to tell your story.

4. Ask why, what and how your brand can add value. A good way to start is by immersing in cultural moments that can help drive conversations and meaning to peoples lives and society at large.

5. Be brave and bold, not to set yourself up for failure but to challenge the status quo and overcome your fears.

As you get ready to reflect on 2021 and start planning 2022, take a moment or two to think about your manifesto. Talk about it with your teams, with your partners and with your consumers, and invite them to take part in the discussion. Start thinking of how you will measure its impact on business performance, and on employee retention and motivation. There is after all a great sense of gratification in contributing for the greater good of society and humanity. Embrace the New World Manifesto.