Culture. Technology. Creativity. Brands.
We Are Up is a strategy & innovation consultancy.

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"And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Accelerate or Brake?

Oatly are impressive, aren't they. They've grown fast and are just about to IPO to raise more funds. They're now valued at $10bn. A pivotal moment for them Dave Trott reckons, was when under a new CEO, they killed their marketing department. They saw the marketing department as a brake, not an accelerator. Too much waffle, procrastination and red tape. Not enough real brand building. Which is interesting.

They're a great example of a carefully developed and managed brand. Faithfully built over time. But, that understanding and faith in brands isn’t everywhere. A new IPA and FT report shows that business leaders lack confidence in building brands (report is here). Over half of business leaders rate their knowledge of brand-building as average to very poor. And those who don’t know, don’t believe. So they don’t invest appropriately in them. And ignore all of the science around building them. They slam on the brakes.

Brand development and brand strategy though (like all strategy) is about creating future competitive advantage. The smart money is still in building brilliant brands. Ones that create future competitive advantage and $10bn worth of value. Fo sho.
Introverts and Ghosts

What a mad year of zooming and teaming. It's been tough. Particularly for the introverts. Bruce Daisley's piece was great on thatHe discussed the difference between makers, who prefer quiet time, and managers who have the hyperactive hive mind tendency for meetings. Introverts certainly won't be rushing back to the office, for more meetings. They might be the 18% of all US workers who want to stay fully remote. Another 5% want partially remote. Which actually feels low to me.

And yet, there’s opposing views on that. On one hand companies like HSBC are embracing remote and plan to halve their office space. On the other, Goldman Sachs reject it calling the “new normal” an aberration. Which seems a bit much really doesn’t it.

We probably just need to imagine our flexible office work future a little more. Because, we're not actually working flexibly right now, we’re working in a pandemic. Post pandemic, things will change. And the future will be about flexibility. Most businesses will have a hybrid model, which requires new kinds of skills from managers and leaders to manage effectively. And probably needs some training.

It's all change, from reimagining the urban office (which seems inevitable) to ghost kitchens  and even ghost franchises taking over our cities, which is mad. Virtual continues to accelerate, including virtual retail. Just look at Volvo, who've gone all electric and online only with their latest launch. See the opportunity in every problem. It'll be fascinating to see how the next 12 months plays out. 

5 things we read this week:
  1. Aerial views of cities wow.
  2. The sounds of the pub, can't wait.
  3. A thread on tone of voice, useful.
  4. Hang in there, lovely.
  5. World's most innovative companies, nice list.

Watching: Enjoyed this from Ethan Hawke about giving yourself the permission to be creative. Most of us want to offer the world something of quality, but the world's an unreliable critic. So don't let that stop you from being creative and using creativity to make your life meaningful. Be creative, play the fool. Go easy on yourselves.'ve got this far.....good hustle....

Just to say, this newsletter is a labour of love. If you have any feedback, good or bad, it's welcome. Also. if you have a challenge or you're feeling a little stuck, we'd love to help. 
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