It’s been about a month since I returned from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and believe me when I say its taken about that much time to fully unpack everything I learned while there. From June 17th through the 21st I attended the Young Lions Marketers Academy which was essentially a 5 day crash course on how to create effective marketing campaigns, build strong client-agency relationships, and how to define your brand’s purpose.
Jim Stengel and Suzanne Tosolini led our academy of 26 young marketers from all over the world. Sitting alongside my peers from South Korea, Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (just to name a few), my worldview was immediately expanded! After starting the morning with chocolate croissants and espresso, each day was packed with a mix of intimate in-class sessions and seeing talks on the main stage. We had private sessions with inspiring industry leaders such as Burger King CMO Fernando Machado and Lego CMO Julia Goldin. Getting to pick the brains of these dynamic leaders was such a special experience and it didn’t hurt that our “classroom” was on the beach, overlooking the French Riviera.
After the academy ended each day, I’d head to the Palais where all the creative work submissions were displayed. I spent hours reviewing all the submissions, my creative wheels turning quicker than ever before. As the sun set each evening, I’d stroll the streets of Cannes back to my AirBnb, digesting all of the day’s information and feeling nothing short of excited and inspired!
The topic that came up again and again was the concept of brand purpose. People want to support businesses and brands that they feel are contributing toward the greater good so you must identify your brand's higher purpose and make sure your business's actions are aligned with it. By taking a stand on a volatile issue, publicly supporting a cause, or contributing efforts towards non-profit initiatives you stand to resonate with the good at the heart of people and convert those people into brand fans. It's not enough to simply identify your brand purpose; you must back it up with evidence of it in your business.
A great example of this is Lego. Lego makes toys for children, but their mission is to "inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow". They support children's rights by partnering with UNICEF, they encourage "play days" for employees, and have even published guidelines on how to responsibly conduct business towards children. All of their actions align with their mission and they've seen incredible success in a difficult market where every new technologically advanced toy is their competition. By identifying your brand purpose and living your core values, you will develop a loyal base of customers who are committed to your brand's cause.
Traveling to France in itself would’ve been an amazing experience, but getting to combine it with attending Cannes Lions was life changing. It changed my way of thinking completely both in a personal and professional capacity and the lessons I learned there were invaluable. Only 332 days until next year!