Lead Forensics

thinking from
the front lines.

On old-fashioned tools, balance, and chasing the algorithm.

On old-fashioned tools, balance, and chasing the algorithm.

The Big Rethink according to Oatly’s Heidi Hackemer

Whole brand thinking is the holistic mindset cutting-edge organizations use to redefine brands and create massive change and growth, inside and out. Such brands know that every action they take is the brand — it’s all communication. 

This fall, we pressure-tested our thesis that these companies and organizations also win the market — we call them whole brands.

In our first State of The Whole Brand, The Big Rethink, we make a powerful business case for the model we use at Barkley to shape brands for the future: Whole brands are twice as likely to be recommended as their fractured competitors, with a 40% increase in market share and employee satisfaction running 85% higher. 

We also include provocative endorsements by trailblazing thought leaders and cultural provocateurs like whole brand thinker and executive creative director, North America at Oatly, Heidi Hackemer

Here’s a portion of her POV on better business with Tim Galles, our chief idea officer and author of Scratch: How to build a potent modern brand from the inside out. 

Galles:  What’s one thing you are thinking about where brands need to go in the coming year? 

Hackemer: When I think about where brands are going or need to go, my advice is perhaps boringly consistent: be kind, be thoughtful, be fun, be surprising … be human. I know, we’ve heard this all before, we hear this at every single damn marketing conference or “innovation” day. And then we go back to our desks and look for what tested best or what the algorithm wants or what patterns to mimic, completely forgetting the human aspect and instead covering our asses from making brave choices by leaning back into uninspired data or what’s been done before.

Galles: How would a whole brand thinker bring a more human-centric approach to business as a force for good?

Hackemer: So few marketers and brand leaders actually stop and ask themselves – Would I like being treated this way? Would this be interesting? Would I feel seen or surprised or really enjoy it if a brand did this? Is this the right thing to do to my fellow humans? Instead we get crazy about “best practices” and “norms” and “optimization.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to know the rules and the patterns of achievement in our work, but things get interesting when you start to intelligently break those rules and remember to add in a healthy mix of the good old fashion tools of heart and thought.

Galles: What do you think brands should “rethink” moving into 2022 and beyond?

Hackemer: If we’ve seen anything lately, it’s that those algorithms that we’re chasing for success aren’t built for the good of people and for our societies. And we’re all complicit in it because we keep feeding them our ad dollars. I get that right now they are a necessary evil, but if we can all pull some aspects of our work out of their thrall and go back to obsessing about connecting with real people, we’ll be heading in the right direction.


We're on a mission to build a world with more whole brands, those ​​that spread their strength across a defined set of actions, grow faster, win more customers and have stronger cultures than the competition — those that act as a force for good.

The world needs us all to rethink how we’re doing business. That starts with here. Inspired? Join us at The Whole Brand Project, where we’re rallying innovative thinkers from all industries to join us.


Brand: A (R)evolution by Tim Galles

Five ways to win: A model for building a whole brand by David Gutting

The Big Rethink according to Happify’s Gareth Kay

The Big Rethink according to Tim Galles

The Big Rethink according to Beautiful Business' Alan Moore

The Big Rethink according to University of Toronto Rotman School of Management's Angèle Beausoleil, PhD

The Big Rethink according to Whole Brand Index creator David Gutting

The Big Rethink: State of the Whole Brand 2021

An Open Letter to Whole Brand Thinkers by Tim Galles, The Muse by Clio

The Whole Brand Project: Join the movement

WARC  | The whole brand: Ending the divide between brand marketing and performance marketing

Barkley US

Dec 07, 2021

filed under:
Whole Brands


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