In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, the key to staying ahead lies in insight, inspiration, integrity and innovation. At this year’s Masters of Marketing conference, industry leaders from leading companies like Coca-Cola, Mastercard, Procter & Gamble, Mazda, Crayola, and others converged to explore the most transformative strategies, all aimed at breaking the mold and redefining success with meaningful brand impact.

Here are five powerful insights that emerged, offering a fresh perspective on the future role of both brand and marketing:

1. Acts, not Ads.

The age-old adage “Actions speak louder than words” has found a new home in the marketing world. Top marketers are advocating for brands to become active participants in shaping culture, rather than just broadcasting messages. A great example (shared multiple times throughout the event) is Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty.

Beyond the campaign, the brand has reinforced its cause with a number of initiatives including a partnership with Nike called Body Confident Sport, a program to boost body confidence in teenage girls, and the Dove Self-Esteem Project, educational resources and workshops for young people and their parents to improve self-esteem and body image.

The project has reached millions of young people worldwide, addressing societal issues related to promoting a healthier self-image, not just through advertising but through practical initiatives. Brands like Dove forge deep connections with their audience and become catalysts for cultural change.

Image: Dove x Nike Body Confident Sport Initiative

2. Market Growth > Market Share

Market growth should be your aim, not mere market share.

In his speech titled ‘The Next Reset’, Marc Pritchard, CBO of Procter & Gamble reinforces that expanding markets can be not only more rewarding but more profitable. “We’ve all been taught that the way to grow is to steal market share,” he says, “But growing the market lifts all boats.” He shared examples from Old Spice – targeting an untapped audience (men) and growing the market for the past 10 consecutive years.

Additional brands who have focused on growing the market include:

Tesla (rather than competing for share of the automobile market, they pioneered the niche electric vehicle market at the time),

Airbnb (expanded the concept of accommodations rather than battling for share in the hotel industry),

Netflix (originally expanded the market by introducing streaming services),

Red Bull (created a new segment with energy drinks rather than competing with established beverage giants).

3. Profound Insights

Behind every iconic campaign lies a profound insight. Either about the customer, the category, or a universally accepted truth related to the product, how it’s used, etc.

Shakir Moin, Chief of Marketing at Coca-Cola, emphasized the importance of these insights in creating emotional and memorable touchpoints, like the “Share a Coke” campaign which personalized bottles with individuals’ names, born from the insight that their customers cherished personal connections.

Another striking example of this is Whisper, a brand that transcended traditional marketing with a campaign that solved a centuries-old stigma keeping young girls out of school in India – based on a unique insight around menstrual miseducation.

4. People Build Brands

Across the board, CMOs acknowledge the indispensable role of individuals in shaping brand identity and cultivating authentic connections with consumers.

In the words of Raja Rajamannar, CMO & Communications Officer of Mastercard, “Great people build great brands.” The passion, creativity, and dedication of these individuals are the bedrock of compelling campaigns and transformative brands. This can be reflected not just with internal team members but with external stakeholders as well.

Victoria Lozano, Executive VP of Marketing at Crayola, emphasized the role parents and educators play in furthering the Crayola mission to raise creatively alive kids. That partnership has contributed to the success of the brand, along with a number of its programs – such as Creativity Week.

5. Bold Innovation Drives Sustainable Success

Innovation is the fuel driving marketing’s evolution. By taking strategic risks and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, brands can captivate audiences and drive lasting change.

One example is Mazda, which reshaped its image focusing on people (not cars) in the brand’s innovation, creating a unique point of difference around enriching their customers’ lives at every touchpoint – leading the brand to one of the top three auto companies during the pandemic.

As Brad Audet, CMO of Mazda North America, warns “Our industry is still bombarded with customer benefit marketing. It’s safe marketing. We need to get out of the ‘safe zone’.”

The Takeaway

The path to success now depends on bold actions over traditional advertising, profound insights over surface-level campaigns, and the pursuit of market growth rather than mere market share.

It’s a world where people are the architects of iconic brands and innovation is the compass to navigate through uncharted territories.

At DENTR, we’re not just observers of this transformative landscape; we’re catalysts for change. We co-create with clients to establish remarkable brand identities – reflected in what they DO rather than just what they SAY. We also believe people are the core ingredient to any successful strategy – which is why we take an ‘in-sourced’ facilitative approach to our work. 

If your company needs a partner to surface profound insights, drive acts (not just ads), grow your market vs. grasping for share, or rally your people to create the next game-changer in your category, get in touch.