This article was originally published by The Guardian
Over the last few months I have been immersed in the year 2030. Specifically, asking what some of today's brands might be doing, how they might
have evolved and how they could be successful in a sustainable future without losing what makes them unique.
Our team at Dragon Rouge was made up of sustainability experts, strategists and designers - exploring six very different brands. Through Brand Futures, we brought to life how easyJet, Argos, Morrisons, Rio Tinto, Primark and Bupa could adapt to the challenges ahead, building on three core elements. The starting point for each concept was the brand, what is the brand promise and essence? We then wove in foresight, what can we expect over the coming decades? And insight, what do consumers and customers desire and need, and what barriers do we need to overcome?
For some brands, sustainability seems out of reach and ultimately out of character – like it doesn't really fit, not comfortably anyway. We wanted to show that all kinds of brands can evolve to meet consumer and customer needs in a different, sustainable future and that this can be done without every brand becoming an ill fitting, eco-version of itself. .
To design a credible brand experience and purpose we needed to establish a set of assumptions about what 2030 would be like. A set of eight principles for 2030emerged from our foresight work, from climate curbing to creating a lasting legacy.
One of the principles focuses on the role of brands in health. On top form predicts that in 2030, brands will be instrumental in keeping society healthy:
The steadily increasing prevalence and cost of lifestyle diseases and mental health illnesses during the 20-teens overwhelmed public healthcare provision and the ability of society to cope. Brands took the opportunity to play a positive role in society by developing healthy products and services and connecting communities and individuals to promote mental and physical well-being. Today, brands are a fundamental part of maintaining high quality of life and reducing the burden on public healthcare.
The Bupa concept challenged us to think about how a brand that is known today for helping people to find health through a broad range of healthcare services, could successfully make a business out of pro-actively advancing the health and well-being of society, which ultimately would lessen people's reliance on the very services it provides.
It didn't take long to work out that the most beneficial service Bupa could provide in future would be keeping people as far from healthcare as possible, reducing the need for visits to the doctor to an absolute minimum. In essence, Bupa could become the global preventive healthcare specialist.
By 2030, Bupa should be known for keeping you one step ahead of healthcare. Its OpenHealth platform keeps you informed of your health status in real-time via a tracker implant and passes on direct, personalised feedback in response to your health status. A low immune system, for example, will trigger suggestions for immunity boosting meals and vitamins. Location tracking warns of bugs in your area you might want to avoid, and if you're managing your weight, OpenHealth can keep you up to speed on practical ways you can integrate exercise into day to day activity. All with the intent of keeping you far from the doctor's waiting room. And entrenched in the belief that preventative healthcare should be available to all, much of Bupa's OpenHealth platform is freely accessible globally, until the point of access to healthcare and direct, personalised feedback.
Ultimately the brand foresight and insight approach looks for a win-win-win solution. A win for business and brand – in this case Bupa broadens its reach to the general public, building its reputation as a leading and trusted specialist, and paying customers buy into being and staying healthy, rather than treatment. Through foresight that wholly embraces sustainability challenges, environment and society gain a win – in this case a less intensive per capita healthcare provision (public and private) and more active lifestyles. And a win for people whose health and wellbeing has been enhanced through the growth and success of a brand that embraced their real need to lead a healthy life, not rely on a reactive healthcare service.