Brands are becoming so much more human today: Alexander Robertson

Empathy, greater accountability, supporting social causes, transparency, reducing carbon footprint are among some of the key attributes that consumers have come to expect from organisations. Delivering a keynote address at CMO’s Charcha, Alexander Robertson, Chief Marketing Officer, ACG World, spoke about ‘Purpose driven companies’ and why they have become even more relevant than ever before.

Robertson, who is originally from South Africa, has worked in the US, the UK, and all across Africa. He has been based in India over the last three years, except for a short time during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he and his family went back to South Africa. But now he is back in Mumbai.

After having started his career in the world of agencies, Robertson made the crossover to working on the business side when he joined a ACG World, a 60-year old company which supports pharma manufacturers. While it is still a family run business, ACG World is becoming a truly global multinational now.

Much of Robertson’s work was in branding agencies in the past, where he had worked for many of the WPP companies working on brand positioning, brand strategy and brand narratives. Coincidentally, ACG was a client of his and they had worked on some fantastic brand positioning before he was offered the position to help run their marketing department.

“In agencies, you really need to shift hats across different clients, and what I always envied about the marketers was that they could really go deep and wide and immerse themselves in understanding their business,” he noted.

Speaking about his topic, Robertson remarked, “I was glad to hear that ‘Purpose’ was one of the topics of discussion at CMO’s Charcha. Many people think that because they have a logo, they are a brand. But the logo is really just a representation of a company. The brand is the mental and emotional associations that we have when we see that logo and how people feel about your company.”

Adding further, he said, “Today, we are going to talk about purpose and.

really look at some companies that have done it right and some companies that probably haven’t done it right and explore how we can really help build brands and companies have purpose.”

Robertson started by asking everyone – what is it that all influential people have in common? According to him, when one is talking about purpose, it’s really quite a human idea of purpose. “I think it is very important to look at it through the lens of how people have purpose, to understand how great companies can have purpose too.

Answering his own question, Robertson said, “All influential people have a belief, a purpose and a character that is consistently expressed.”

These are edited excerpts from the panel discussion. For the complete address watch below:


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