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The State of the Whole Brand 2022

Certain brands dominate the market. They always have. Three years, 13,000 consumer interviews, and 150 brands later, we know both why and how those brands — what we call whole brands — out–profit, outperform, and out-impact the competition.

So what’s a whole brand, you ask? Great question. In The State of the Whole Brand 2022, launched this month, we define whole brands by four characteristics:

  1. A whole brand is an organization that treats everything it does as the brand.

  2. A whole brand is connected by a core idea, the red thread, that guides and inspires every action it takes across the spectrum of marketing to business ideas.

  3. A whole brand is full of purpose and action, matching what it says and does internally with what it says and does externally.

  4. A whole brand measures success by balancing profit and performance across the Whole Brand Spectrum with its impact on people, community, and the planet.

Our results consistently found that whole brands are preferred two-and-a-half times more often than category competitors, are five times more likely to be seen as a brand on the rise, double the Standard & Poor’s 500 index in market performance, and command a premium price among consumers. And the index we use to score the results? It has the power to predict market performance with nearly 70% accuracy.  

“Whole brands firmly believe that every action they take is one more reason to choose them, or not,” says Tim Galles, director of The Whole Brand Project and Barkley’s chief idea officer. “They see everything they do — from sustainability plans, culture, product and service innovation, design and experience and marketing — as creative endeavors, knowing that their biggest unfair advantage is their belief and behavior system, and how creative their culture is.”

We also interviewed global marketers and whole brand thinkers for the report, including Eric Ryan, co-founder of method, OLLY, Welly and Cast; Stephanie Wissink, managing director, Jefferies; Bart Houlahan, co-founder, B Lab; Niki King, head of sustainability, Unilever North America; Mike Cessario, chief executive officer and co-founder of Liquid Death; KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, chief executive officer and founder, Sustainable Brands; Hilary Butler, director of marketing, Bonterra Organic Estates; and Ian Fitzgerald, global senior director of brand strategy and operations, New Balance.

"So much of creating a whole brand is to make sure you have a consistent experience through every touchpoint," said Eric Ryan, co-founder of method, OLLY, Welly, and Cast. "Everything is theater. Few do it well because they forget to think about how you create a unified experience through products, sales, marketing, and culture, all the way. We live in a world that’s much more porous for consumers and brand relationships. There’s no longer a public face and a private face for a brand. That’s why you have to be authentic from the inside out."

Niki King, head of sustainability at Unilever North America, adds, "A brand is whole when it takes into account every person that will be impacted along the value chain — including share owners, employees, suppliers, workers in the supply chain, and consumers. The business is ethical, profitable, and well-governed, and it positively impacts the world."

No matter where you find your brand in 2022, this report is for you. With insights into 126 brands across 18 categories, you’ll see both the potency and potential of WHOLE BRAND THINKING™, and how the creativity it unleashes becomes a force for good.

And because we feel strongly that a world with more whole brands would be a better world, we combine all this useful data with ideas you can start using right now.

At Barkley, we’re on a mission to build a world with more whole brands — because we believe, as a Certified B Corporation™, that all brands, including ours, can be a force for good in the world. 

This is proof.

Download The State of the Whole Brand 2022 Report.

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