If 2020 was extremely diverse in terms of thought leadership, 2021 has been even more…wild. This year’s round-up of the best on Brandingmag is provoking, to say the least.

First of all, we’ve started a podcast. Not because we wanted in on the ‘audio action’; but because we genuinely thought there was room for better. And, just like the heroes in fairy tales, we’ve built a podcast that grows in one day as others do in months. But we couldn’t have done it alone. The podcast is hosted by a well-versed marketer himself – Martin Schiere. With over 15 years of experience in marketing and with a razor-sharp mind, he really makes this podcast stand out. Thank you, Martin!

Second, we’ve been accompanied by many great minds throughout the year. Experts from all around the world became contributors and shared their ethos and insights with us, with articles that not only courageously explored new paths but also challenged the old creeds. A true reality check.

So, please, don’t stop at this list and explore everything that our contributors have shared throughout the year. I promise that each and every article will help you become a better practitioner if not change your vision entirely. And, if you don’t know where to start, try our newest feature: Perpetuwall.


1. [Podcast] Branding over Wine

Each month we’re inviting one international marketer or brand manager we admire for a candid conversation about how to grow viable brands and businesses. ∙ Why Are Distinctive Brand Assets More Important in Mature Markets?
∙ What Are the Value Drivers of Digital Business Models?
∙ What Is the Role of Marketing and Branding Within Organizations?
∙ Can Brands Grow Through Loyalty? What Does the Research Say?
∙ How to Increase Market Share – The Case of Decommoditizing the Potato


2. State of the Brand: Luminaries of Asia

Featuring 11 agencies from 4 Asian countries – Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong (China), and Singapore.“A brand cannot function unless it is a narrative that is retold by individuals.” – Kotaro Watanabe, Takram, Japan


3. The End of the Inconspicuous Purple Cow

by Ivan GurkovThe ‘who advertises louder sells more’ system has stopped working.”


4. What Can Brand Identity Give Me That I Didn’t Have Before?

by Daniela Maestres“An outdated idea that tends to become a stumbling block in the process, is that branding and marketing are unethical forms of manipulation.”


5. Interview: A Higher (Brand) Culture, with Michael Stusser, Higher Ground

by Radu DanduCannabis also represents an opportunity – to educate, explore, and make folks crack up along the way.”


6. Byron Sharp – Brand Purpose and the Tyranny of the Majority

by Nick Liddell“Rather than creating an ‘astonishing amount of choice’, Byron Sharp’s laws of growth demand a single-minded pursuit of penetration, at the cost of any form of meaningful differentiation.”


7. Interview: Why Brands Should Become More Emotionally Intelligent, with Kevin Allen

by Kevin Perlmutter

“A brand manager, or better yet, a brand citizen custodian, is a person who is responsible for the nurturance of the belief system of the brand that binds together its constituents. That’s the core trait of a successful brand person.”


8. Branding’s Perfect 10 – Less Branding

by Noah Lekas“It’s about being what you are rather than manufacturing who you think it’s most profitable to be.”


9. What’s the Difference Between Brand Positioning and Brand Strategy? Does It Matter?

by Nick Liddell“Brand positioning and brand strategy play complementary roles. Without a brand strategy to back it up, brand positioning risks being a hollow statement of ambition.”


10. Everyone Has a Purpose, Few Have a Conscience

by Cristian Saracco“Behaving truthfully and being unapologetically driven by values are two of the essential characteristics that today’s society is demanding from each institution.”