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Marketing and Comms
How to Build a Whole Brand — and Why You Want to

Holistic thinking has a positive impact on a brand’s market share and ensures it stands on the right side of history. Brands that solely rely on marketing will be severely disadvantaged, especially as more and more consumers choose brands that align with their values over ones that don’t.

Modern consumers don’t see brands as most marketers do — as parts and pieces. They don’t see brands as media flowcharts, brand books and digital transformation roadmaps. They see a brand as the sum of every experience they’ve had with it — they see the whole brand.

A whole brand is defined as one that sees everything it does, inside and out, as the brand. Guided by a strong purpose, these brands measure success holistically — looking at profit, performance and the impact they have on the people, planet and communities they serve.

And whole brands dominate the market.

In the past three years, Barkley and The Whole Brand Project have studied 13,000 consumers and more than 150 brands in 30 categories. The research measures brands’ power and performance to find the common denominator of the leaders. This data is used as a blueprint to help brands not only stay relevant and competitive but to be a brand the world needs — not just a profit machine.

Defying Online Algorithms with Authentic, Impactful Storytelling

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“We have found that the brands that behave more holistically are outperforming their counterparts by upwards of 40 percent in the marketplace,” says Barkley Chief Idea Officer Tim Galles. “There is less turnover, a greater impact internally between their team — and they are outperforming in the market over the last three years.”

This holistic thinking has a positive impact — both on the brand’s market share and ensuring it stands on the right side of history. Brands that solely rely on marketing will be severely disadvantaged, especially as more and more consumers choose products that align with their values over ones that don’t.

Ready to reconsider your own brand and work toward a more holistic organizational approach? Here’s how:

1. Take your brand out of the box.

Whole brands look at everything as a creative opportunity. They are original in their thinking — from marketing to business ideas and all the ideas in between.

2. Look at it from every possible angle.

This flip in brand thinking totally changes the game — a game at which consumers and employees excel. When you begin to see your brand as every action it takes, business gets better, stronger, more connected and coherent. Potent, even.

3. Excel at everything.

Whole brands excel at all dimensions of brand action, not just product and communications. Consumers encounter them as encompassing experiences, making it possible for digital-first brands such as Away and to perform like Amazon, Nike and Coke.

4. Win the marketplace.

Whole brands achieve a high level of business results based on widely agreed-upon metrics. Whole brands’ market penetration over the last 12 months is 44 percent greater on average than all other brands, and they are the preferred brand in their categories 73 percent more often.

5. Lead with purpose.

Consumers see these brands as standing for more than making money. Tesla is obvious — but Gatorade did purpose before purpose was cool. Brands with purpose have an intangible momentum, which shows up in the data.

Whole brands are built to be future-proof — something we need in these chaotic times. By solidifying and activating a brand’s ethos throughout the entire organization, your brand will find itself ready to take on whatever is thrown your way — whether that be a bad press or a global pandemic.

No matter where you find your brand in 2022, the Whole Brand report is for you. With insights into 126 brands across 18 categories, you’ll see both the potency and potential of Whole Brand Thinking™ — and how the creativity it unleashes becomes a force for good.

And because we feel strongly that a world with more whole brands would be a better world, we combine all this useful data with ideas you can start using right now.

Want to find out who the top whole brands are and why they made the list? Click here to read this year’s Whole Brand report.