Lead Forensics

thinking from
the front lines.

On creative coalitions, a healthy workforce, and the need for relentless research.

On creative coalitions, a healthy workforce, and the need for relentless research.

The Big Rethink according to Angèle Beausoleil, PhD, Business Design and Innovation at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management

2021 was the year of the whole brand, those holistic, built-from-the-inside-out companies and organizations that add value to people’s lives and also do what’s right for their communities and the planet. And this fall, we pressure-tested our thesis that whole brands also win the market.

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 Angèle Beausoleil, PhD, Business Design and Innovation at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

Beausoleil shared her POV on Whole Brand Thinking™ in a recent interview with Tim Galles, our chief idea officer and director of The Whole Brand Project. We couldn’t agree more.

Galles: When you hear the term “whole brand," what do you think of? 

Beausoleil: Whole Brand conveys the idea of completeness and suggests thoughtful integration of different parts of a larger system. It reflects all three types of sight: hindsight, insight and foresight. 

Galles: What evidence would you have to see to declare a brand or business whole or fragmented?

Beausoleil: The business must behave like an orchestra and is led by a respected conductor. It must have a customer first mindset that permeates all departments and roles. In fragmented brands, silos and ghettos are visible and sensed by employees and suppliers, perhaps clients.

Galles: What have you seen in the past 18 months that gives you hope that brands or businesses can be a force for good, internally and/or externally? 

Beausoleil: The overarching theme is health. Without health, we have nothing. Check the health of your employees, your systems, your strategies and resilience. 

Another theme is nimble ninjas: quick pivots for companies to think creatively on how to reach and meet the needs of their customers. Think Netflix and international programming, distilleries converting processes to make and package sanitizer gel, zoos creating drive-through experience. 

Another is creative coalitions: Together global researchers, governments and industry have prototyped, tested and created vaccines, PPT, etc.

Galles: Based on the past 18 months the world has experienced, what is mandatory for every brand or business to prioritize?

Beausoleil: Gain new sight: look back to look forward and ask why they weren’t prepared for tough economic times. Then, reflect on responsive retention: how to rethink workplace and work lifestyle in a hybrid remote + in-person model. Finally, relentless research will help us learn about our customers in new ways that involves more than the R&D department

Galles: What is the one question you’re asking business leaders based on the last 18 months?

Beausoleil: How sustainable is your leadership, vision and team? The Big S.

Galles: What would you like to see happen in the next 12 months to prove that brands or businesses can be a force for good?

Beausoleil: Show how human-centered and humane you are as a brand. Integrate a triple bottom line approach to decision-making — people, profit, planet — and nudge suppliers and partners to follow. Good business is good for all.

Galles: If you could recommend one thing for brands or businesses to rethink in the next year, what would it be?

Beausoleil: Rethink scaling and growth. Have the balls to redefine your own trajectory, stop following others. Rethink research in short, lean and modern ways to foster learning.


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 Oatly's Heidi Hackemer

The Big Rethink according to Tim Galles

The Big Rethink according to Beautiful Business' Alan Moore

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

Jan 12, 2022

filed under:
Whole Brands


Brand Battles, Marketing, Modern Consumer, Research, Retail, Whole Brands
Brand Culture, Culture, Marketing, Modern Consumer, Purpose, Retail, Whole Brands
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