19. BRAND GLOBAL SUMMIT: BRANDS FOR IMPACT
The European Brand Institute (EBI) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have held the 19th Brand Global Summit at the Vienna International Centre and online on October 18, 2023. The Summit explored the topic “Brands for Impact”, highlighting success stories and experiences with branding as an effective solution to support businesses and regions, to increase productivity, diversify and to attract investments.
This yearly gathering not only delivered a profound outlook on the challenges faced by brands and international businesses on a global scale, but also emphasized the pivotal roles of brand investment, innovation, and resilient branding strategies for sustainable growth. It offered a forward-thinking perspective on future challenges and strategies to contribute to a more impactful and positive world. The Summit brought together leading representatives from international companies and UNIDO projects, along with experts in impactful branding, the private sector, academia, diplomacy and international organizations. They shared insights and experiences on harnessing brand management as a dynamic tool for generating multi-dimensional impact, enhancing business performance, and fortifying resilience in an era propelled by digitalization. These efforts are central to accelerating industrial modernisation and promoting sustainable development at regional, national and international levels. The summit addressed a range of topics, including the economic contributions of sustainable brands, digital transformation, innovation, and the challenges brands face in a rapidly changing world.
Gerhard Hrebicek, President of the European Brand Institute, summed up the summit’s main theme “Brands for Impact”. In his opening remarks he emphasized “that brands hold the power to make a positive impact on society and the environment. By aligning their values with those of consumers and stakeholders, brands can forge stronger connections with their audience and distinguish themselves in a competitive market.”
The conversations addressed a variety of crucial topics, starting with a focus on the regional impact of brands. This highlighted their dual function as symbols of identity and as catalysts for sustainable development within communities. Another focal point was guiding small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in leveraging branding for global expansion, featuring success stories and insights. Gender equality in brand leadership also emerged as a significant theme. The panel on brand investments introduced innovative financing models like tokenization and NFTs, illustrating how brands can secure funding for growth and development.
Governance (ESG) principles in modern brand management. Experts emphasized the need for structured frameworks to smoothly transition from an ESG mind set to actionable steps within organizations. The discussions also delved into the substantial economic contribution of sustainable brands. “Intellectual property and intangible assets from innovation processes now form a significant portion of a company's overall value, often surpassing the GDP of certain economies. Trademarks and intellectual property rights were underscored for their support to jobs, GDP, and foreign trade. The analysis based on REFINITIV data over the last decade revealed that brand value creation positively correlates with key performance indicators. It also has a notably positive impact on the entire economy by reducing the cost of debt financing. This suggests that companies with higher brand values are more secure in terms of financing. Additionally, there is a strong correlation between valuable brands and the GDP per capita of a region. The "Branding for Competitiveness and Sustainable Growth" (B4C) initiative, a joint effort by EBI and UNIDO, has showcased significant positive impacts in various projects, including notable increases in local sales, job creation, turnover, and export growth” stated Gerhard Hrebicek.
In his opening address at the Brand Global Summit 2023, Gerd Müller, General Director of UNIDO, highlighted the profound impact of technology on branding in the era of digital transformation and AI. He emphasized that this technological shift goes beyond conventional strategies, enabling brands to forge deeper connections with consumers through tailored interactions and predictive engagement. Müller underscored UNIDO's commitment to leveraging AI for sustainability and competitiveness, exemplified by initiatives like "Branding for competitiveness and sustainable growth." He also stressed the convergence of technology and creativity in intellectual property, citing UNIDO's efforts in Indonesia as a model for modernizing traditional industries. Müller concluded by affirming UNIDO's dedication to equipping developing nations with the skills and resources necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing global economy driven by digital transition.
Marco Kamiya, Chief Division of Digital Transformation and AI Strategies at UNIDO underscored in his opening remarks: “Branding is an essential development dimension relevant to people, firms, cities, and countries. With software and digital platforms reigning in the digital era, integrated manufacturing is boosted by positioning and reputation.”
Panel 1: Brands digitalization and innovation for impact
Alexander Biach, Deputy Director of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce and Industry underlined “the importance for brands, whether corporate, product, regional, or institutional, to adapt and evolve alongside current and future technological advancements. He cited examples such as Generative AI, the Metaverse, and Web 3.0, which are dynamic areas influencing both communications and brand management.”
Marco Matteini, UNIDO expert on sustainable energy, addressed the pressing issue of climate change, underscored the urgency of the situation, noting substantial shifts in Austria's climate, particularly in its traditionally cold polar regions. Brands and companies are actively engaged in combatting this climate emergency. To this end, UNIDO collaborates closely with companies dedicated to the implementation of ISO 50001 and energy management systems. The concerted efforts of UNIDO and these companies play a pivotal role in driving forward these crucial initiatives. ESG provides evidence of firm’s values and how it communicates them form the central core of its business brand.
Jagdeep Hira, Managing Director, Pakka ltd, stated, that they strive to build a better regenerative packaging at scale while working in a circular economy.
Rene Arnold, VP Corporate Communications Deputy Huawei, emphasized the goal of making digital technology accessible to every individual, household, and organization, thereby creating a fully connected and intelligent world. He outlined Huawei's comprehensive sustainability approach, which revolves around four key strategies aimed at generating social value. These strategies encompass digital inclusion, prioritizing security and trustworthiness, environmental protection, and promoting a healthy and harmonious ecosystem. This concerted effort by Huawei exemplifies their commitment to advancing a sustainable and technologically inclusive future.
Panel 2: Alternative financing to strengthen Brand’s impact and Value
Herbert Kovar, Partner Deloitte Tax pointed out the significance of immaterial property, distinguishing between technological assets, like patents, and brand value. He noted that “companies with well-established brands consistently outperform their competitors. This resilience is attributed to the enduring trust and value associated with reputable brands, which remains steadfast even in times of crisis or disruption”. Kovar pointed out that in periods of inflation and under strict monetary policies, these well-established brands demonstrate remarkable resilience. Furthermore, he underscored that brand-centric companies prove to be effective instruments for leveraging brands as collateral."
Cindy Alysha Abigail, Finance expert at UNIDO, underscored the growing importance of sustainable investments. She stressed the significance of not only measuring but also effectively managing the impact of businesses for long-term sustainability. UNDP, as the UN's global development network, is dedicated to aiding Indonesia in its battle against poverty, fostering inclusive economic growth, mitigating disparities between various groups and regions, and striving towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 throughout the country. This concerted effort reflects a commitment to sustainable and inclusive development.
Daniel Horak, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Conda, pointed out the critical role of finance options for SMEs. He underscored that two main factors significantly influence a company's success in raising funds through crowdfunding platforms: SDGs and impactful companies, and strong brands. These are key considerations for investors, with a notable emphasis on SDG-connected topics. The primary goal is to invest in ventures that are not only financially sound but also have a positive impact. Furthermore, companies with robust brands find it considerably easier to access funds through such platforms, as a well-established brand fosters trust and adds substantial value.
The Keynote Address, "Challenges for Brands in a Fast-Changing World," was presented by Natalia Feriencikova, Attorney at Law from LGP. During her insightful speech, Feriencikova delved into the dynamic landscape of brand challenges. She commenced with a compelling quote by Charles Darwin, highlighting the crucially of adaptability in our swiftly evolving world. Drawing from her extensive legal expertise, she recounted a brand's success story in navigating the digital terrain, emphasizing its dedication to sustainability and social responsibility. Feriencikova emphasized the pressing need to address environmental concerns, emphasizing the instrumental roles of both the EU Green Deal and the EU Taxonomy Regulation in guiding brands toward sustainable practices. She underscored the pivotal role of digital transformation, emphasizing its potential to educate, inspire, and influence. Furthermore, Feriencikova lauded “Artificial Intelligence as a transformative tool, enabling brands to gain profound insights into consumer behaviour and preferences”. In conclusion, she rallied for a collective commitment to fostering a world where brands lead with purpose, championing positive global change.
Panel 3: Brand’s impact on digital transformation & Women
Following the panel discussion on "Brand’s Impact on Digital Transformation and Women," expertly moderated by Francine Beleyi, Founder and Digital Strategist of Nucleus of Change, participants delved into an intriguing opportunity for brands to effect positive change. Cecilia Ugaz Estrada, Director Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women Office UNIDO, delivered a presentation on the latest report of "Gender, Digital Transformation, and Artificial Intelligence." She highlighted UNIDO's mission to ensure that both women and men take active leadership roles and reap the benefits of industrial development. Additionally, she highlighted UNIDO's commitment to assisting member states in navigating the transformative changes occurring within the industrial sector in recent years.
Elke Pichler, Director Magnolia Tree, emphasized the role of technology as a catalyst for enhancing Brand Value and spotlighted the intersection of Women's entrepreneurship with digital and AI realms, underlining the utilization of big data for effective brand management. Elke passionately stated, "At Magnolia Tree, we firmly believe that a brand's essence lies in its values, transcending mere visibility. In this age of digital transformation, our unwavering commitment to ethical leadership and inclusivity, especially for women, isn't just a catchphrase; it's a crucial business mandate. We're wholeheartedly dedicated to empowering women leaders to become catalysts of change, leveraging digital platforms to amplify their influence and voice."
Monika Racek, CEO Admiral, addressed the topic of Employer Branding and Women, emphasizing its critical role in fostering diversity in the workplace. She underscored the significance of creating a robust employer brand that resonates with women, as it is instrumental in attracting and retaining female talent. Companies that prioritize gender equality and provide opportunities for women to thrive send a powerful message not only to their employees but also to potential applicants. Monika Racek made a heartfelt appeal to companies, stating, "Brands and companies must genuinely ensure that their commitment to gender equality is not superficial or a strategic marketing tactic, and let us truly champion authentic employer branding."
Panel 4: Regional brands, Clusters and institutional Branding Leading to rural wealth
Panel Chair Fabio Russo, Chief SME Development and Job Creation UNIDO led the regional brands panel with best practice examples from Armenia, Belarus, Indonesia and Venezuela.
Stefan Petters, CEO Carbotopia emphasized the untapped potential of utilizing biomass's carbon and water efficiency advantages over crude oil in refining applications. Instead of simply co-burning carbon with its extinguishing agent, water, this approach could increase its current trade value by tenfold, recovering up to 80% of biomass for the production of bio-chemicals with higher heating value.
Franco Silva, representing the UNIDO IUMP Project in Venezuela, highlighted the project's core objectives. It aims to fortify the human and technical capacities of national institutions and experts in providing services related to business diagnosis, modernization, and the development of competitiveness and marketing strategies. Additionally, the project focuses on fostering inter-institutional networks, supporting business associations, and providing other essential services for the Venezuelan agro-industry sector. This initiative is pivotal in advancing rural wealth and economic prosperity in the region.
Panel 5: Implementation of ESG and Organizational Challenges
Vera Kocsis, Sales Director Refinitiv, highlighted the company's ambition to be a driving force for sustainable economic growth and a leading advocate for sustainability in global financial markets.” This mission is realized through the products and services they offer, as well as their broader role in financial markets and society. Their focus is on achieving a harmonious balance between economic advancement, social inclusivity, and environmental preservation.
Jörg Spreitzer, CEO at Great Place to Work, elucidated the organization's mission to transform every workplace into an environment conducive for all employees to thrive. He highlighted their commitment to the 'Who Cares Wins' concept, aligning with the United Nations' incentive system, employing the EU's sustainability classification for economic activities, adhering to individual country laws, and implementing their reporting system. This unwavering dedication ensures alignment with the core values that underpin this initiative. Through their Trust Index™ and assessments of corporate culture, they empower companies to fortify this facet of success through corporate culture.
René Massatti, Managing Director and Founder of Playroom–Impact, emphasized the significance of a co-creative and collaborative framework for establishing a shared understanding of complex topics. He stressed that targets and regulatory issues should be presented in an approachable manner to garner internal buy-in and stimulate a movement within the organization. For the transition from an ESG mindset to concrete actions, structured frameworks are essential to support employees in applying the insights to their daily work. He also highlighted that ESG is not merely an obligation but a pivotal leadership endeavour. The challenge lies in cultivating "sustainable sustainability" by gaining buy-in from a broad spectrum of individuals within the organization. He advocated for a collaborative and engaging approach to establish a shared consciousness around this critical issue.
Closing The Future of/for Brands
During the closing panel on the future of brands and their impact, Ana Paula Nishio de Sousa, Incoming Chief of the Division of Digital Transformation and AI Strategies at UNIDO, reiterated UNIDO's call for member states to implement practices that create substantial added value, a proven route to prosperity. She emphasized UNIDO's active promotion of inclusive and sustainable digital transformation and strategic branding. Additionally, she highlighted the crucial role of collaboration between the public and private sectors in driving substantial progress.
Gerhard Hrebicek, President of the European Brand Institute, concluded the summit by affirming the crucial role of brands. He stated, "Brands provide orientation, convey values, create experiences, and contribute to our well-being." Hrebicek emphasized that they are vital for driving innovation, generating new jobs, and enhancing overall efficiency, thereby ensuring sustained competitiveness. He illustrated how sustainability-oriented brands not only foster investments but also yield higher long-term returns. Hrebicek underscored the profound impact of sustainable brands in establishing enduring relationships and making positive societal contributions. He concluded by affirming that brands, along with intellectual property, play a pivotal role in driving economic growth and securing economies as a whole. Brands for IMPACT!
The BRAND GLOBAL SUMMIT delivered a wealth of insights and actionable strategies for leveraging branding as a force for positive change. Furthermore, the summit underscored the pivotal role of brands in advancing sustainable development and fostering societal well-being. It delved into strategies tailored for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to strategically leverage branding for international expansion. Moreover, the summit emphasized the imperative of gender diversity and inclusion in brand leadership and management. Innovative financing models, including tokenization and NFTs, were explored as compelling avenues for brand growth. The summit also spotlighted the implementation of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles as a cornerstone of modern brand management. These profound insights collectively provide a strategic roadmap for businesses and organizations aspiring to harness the formidable power of branding for enduring impact and sustainability.
In the evening, at the invitation of the Mayor and Governor of Vienna Michael Ludwig, the VIENNA BRAND GALA Reception took place in the Festivity Hall of the Vienna City Hall. Together with Gerhard Hrebicek, President of the European Brand Institute, Kurt Stürzenbecher, member of the Vienna City Parliament, Cecilia Ugaz Estrada, Director Gender Equality & Empowerment of Women Unit, UNIDO and H.E. Pablo Berti Oliva, Ambassador of Cuba, representing GRULAC welcomed the international guests.
International flair once again permeated the ballroom of Vienna City Hall during the traditional tastings of regional specialties such as mojito, rum, coffee and cigars by
representatives of the Corps Diplomatique of the Latin American and Caribbean countries Dominican Republic, Cuba, El Salvador and Brazil. Sax'n Soul Duo Ingo Beer and Sabrina
Kreutzberger provided musical high spirits.
Spotted among the guests H.E. Laura Faxas, Ambassador Dominican Republic, Stefan Krenn and Alexandra Lindlbauer, Novomatic, Renate Altenhofer, Managing Partner European Brand Institute, Herbert Kovar, Partner Deloitte Tax, Daniel Horak, Co-Founder and Co-CEO CONDA, Vera Kocsis and Doris Ullrich, Refinitiv, Aysegül Baykal, Deputy Director Schoellerbank, Gerald Ganzger and Natalia Feriencikova, LGP lawyers, Great Place to Work-CEO Jörg Spreitzer, Charisma-Expert Sandra Soravia-Lepuschitz, Petra Kohler, Managing Director FidW, WKW, Martin Heimhilcher, Spartenobmann Information & Consulting, WKW, WKW-Vice Presidents Kasia Greco and Margarete Kriz-Zwittkovits, Francine Beleyi, Nucleus of Change, Elke Pichler, Director Magnolia Tree, IAA-Vice President Kristin Hanusch-Linser, the Ambassadors of Brazil, Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, as well as the UNIDO Managers Ana Paula Nishio de Sousa, Fabio Russo, Farrukh Alimdjanov, and many more.
The BRAND GLOBAL SUMMIT, an initiative of the European Brand Institute, has established itself as an exclusive business & networking event and promotes business contacts between Austrian and international companies and regions. It serves as a platform for thought leaders, experts and innovators to converge and explore the transformative potential of brands in today's dynamic and ever-evolving landscape. The discussions, statements, and insights shared during the summit underscored the critical role that brands play in shaping a sustainable and inclusive future.
(C) Katharina Schiffl