The unexpected is to be expected: embrace the unknowns and what ifs
The unexpected is to be expected: embrace the unknowns and what ifs
A view from Rachel Barnes

The 'unknown unknowns' might seem scary, but brands must be ready for the 'what ifs'

The great unknowns can be terrifying, but they should also energise brands and marketers, writes Marketing editor Rachel Barnes, outlining the key content in our...

"What scares me the most, is what we don’t know that we don’t know."

This quote from Aric Dromi, a futurologist at Volvo, aptly sets the stage for the year ahead and beyond; but rather than the fear factor, I believe we should feel equally energised by the prospect of the ‘what ifs’.

The ‘unknown unknowns’ - an idea that originates from within Nasa - are never to be underestimated. But you can mitigate the danger by imagining what, or who, it would take to bring you to your knees.

Uber, for example, which didn’t exist five years ago, is now valued at more than American Airlines. Dromi explains that cognitive intelligence of machines, 3D printing and urbanisation are all massive threats to the car industry - disruptive forces they have in their sights.

Just like Back to the Future did not even get a sniff of the mobile phone, we have to accept that what’s ahead is beyond what we can plan for

It is always worth taking the time out, particularly as we enter the New Year, to look beyond the immediate competitive threats to imagine the ‘what ifs’. The unexpected is to be expected.

Just like the Back to the Future film did not even get a sniff of the mobile phone, we have to accept that what’s ahead is beyond what we can plan for.

What should be expected is that the definition of big business is certain to change in the next decade. According to Sarah Peat from content agency The Moment, as half the Fortune 500 companies have disappeared in the past 15 years, the future picture may not include many of the big brands of today. How confident can you be that, whatever disruption is coming around the corner, your brand will remain relevant in the 2020s and beyond?

2016 predictions and resolutions

On a lighter note - as we’re feeling both festive and ready for the rejuvenation of January - it’s time to talk predictions. Firstly, I want to see the end of the most over-used word of 2015: millennial.

Certainly the under-30s I know all detest this description and resent the list of qualities that they’re told connect them to their peers the world over.

2016: predicting a fight out between Apple, Google and Facebook to shape the future of the internet

In the latest December/January issue of Marketing, our trends feature, The Post-Everything Era, describes how now, more than ever, is the time for marketers to target people of whatever age by shared interests and human qualities to which we can all relate: think ‘human’ or ‘individual’ first.

With far more wisdom than I can muster, we have have asked some of the UK’s leading marketers to outline their predictions in the new issue, along with their priorities for 2016. From British Gas’ Will Orr focusing on reputation to Unruly’s Sarah Wood vision of a fight out between Apple, Google and Facebook to shape the future of the internet; and from ad-blocking to an explosion of video both on mobile and VR, I comfortably predict it’s certainly not going to be a year of ‘business as usual’.

A year of highs

We’ve had several brand highlights this year, from Marketing winning Business Content Team of the Year at the PPA Digitals to the launch of the New Thinking Awards and our celebration of great women working in tech with Digital Mavericks.

This year, we have also overhauled our Power 100, the 16th annual definitive guide to the UK’s most influential, innovative and inspiring marketers. I’d like to draw special attention to those marketers who have joined the new Hall of Fame.

The clear winner of the Power 100 Marketers’ Marketer of the Year peer award is Lidl’s Arnd Pickhardt, who has done an amazing transformation job for the discount brand

I feel it’s important to celebrate leadership in marketing and those who, year in and year out, are steering their brands to success. These marketers are duly recognised for featuring in the Power 100 for five or more years.

We have also launched the Marketers’ Marketer of the Year, a peer award, voted on only by the Power 100. And the clear winner in the 2015 vote is Lidl’s Arnd Pickhardt, who has done an amazing job of transformation for the discount brand.

On that note of celebration of the world-class marketing the UK proudly boasts, I’d like to thank all our readers for playing their part in what has been a rip-roaring year. I sense that 2016 will be a year of big changes - and with the marketing industry’s creativity at the heart of it, I can’t wait to discover what unknowns lie ahead.