Isabel Sobral FutureBrand SP Zoid Creative

Future-proof brands: interview with Isabel Sobral

Isabel Sobral, FutureBrand SP/Zoid Creative

Impact businesses need to effectively communicate the positive, social and/or environmental impacts that are part of their purpose. Branding, narratives, verbal and visual identity, tone of voice, all of this counts in the contact with the different audiences with which these businesses dialogue.

FutureBrand SP, specialized in creating future-proof brands, has been partnering with civil society organizations and impact businesses in the last decade in order to translate the impact these institutions generate into communication. 

Among these organizations are AMAZ itself, Idesam, Climate Ventures and some Amazonian businesses, such as Café Apuí, Seringô, Na'kau and 100% Amazônia. According to Isabel Sobral, managing partner of FutureBrand SP, working with this type of institution brings knowledge about important topics such as climate change, agroforestry systems, regenerative economy, carbon market, and also depth in different chains such as fashion, livestock , palm oil and cocoa. 

“Each project becomes a kind of specialization in a subject. And how can we talk about future-proof brands if we don't understand these topics? Our purpose is to create brands that are future-proof and, in my opinion, there will only be a future for us, human beings, if brands really care and act in relation to the impact they generate, minimizing the negative effects, amplifying the positive ones. and establishing regenerative models in their businesses. It's a major paradigm shift that is underway, and the new generations have everything they need to connect to it and make a difference,” says Isabel.

In May, the partnership between FutureBrand SP and AMAZ promoted the AMAZ Branding Lab, a workshop on communication for businesses in acceleration this year 2022. On the occasion, Isabel talked to us about brands of the future, impact and communication businesses, the beginning of the relationship with the accelerator and consumer trends.

How did Future Brand come together, responsible for the branding of so many great brands and with presence in the market, with impact businesses and civil society organizations? What motivates this relationship?

Isabel Sobral (IS): On a personal level, since I was little, I have always been very connected with environmental issues, I think that this sustainability thing comes from the cradle, because of the way our parents and grandparents teach us to respect and honor nature and give us opportunities to live experiences related to it. And, growing up and living in a country as unequal as Brazil, I was also connecting to social issues. At the same time, I came to work at FutureBrand (FB), a consultancy that actually works with large companies, which generate huge impacts, both positive and negative.

I had been here for about seven years at FB when I felt my greatest disquiet, that crisis of the search for a greater purpose. I thought about leaving, going to work at a place full of purpose, a B company or something. On the other hand, I also saw that in few places I would have such easy access to top corporate leaders as working here. And it is precisely this leadership that hires us as a consultancy to show the best path and strategy for their brands for the future. Ready! I had the knife and the cheese in my hand.  

It was necessary to combine with the rest of the company and bring the theme to the table. Starting to talk about sustainability and climate change here was not something quickly understood by everyone, it simply seemed that these themes did not fit within the branding, when in fact branding is intrinsically linked to reputation, which in turn is linked to the way the brand stands. behaves towards society, how it generates value for its stakeholders, what are their socio-environmental practices and so on. It was necessary to bring the theme, raise awareness, and that's how we started to get closer to this ecosystem of innovation for impact.

The first major milestone was the partnership with Climate Ventures, already in the year of its foundation. We really wanted to do something together and, from this desire, came the idea of making a Comunicathon, which ended up becoming an event for more than 100 people where we brought together talks by representatives of Coca-Cola, Nespresso, Itaú and Social Docs and brought internal talks on topics as Circular Economy in Design and Storytelling for Sustainability. We got closer to the ecosystem, I was invited to the Innovation Lab in Manaus, when I met Idesam and Mariano [director of new business at Idesam and CEO at AMAZ]. 

We started doing projects for different brands, each one paid what they could, the important thing was to connect and find ways to help and make the projects viable. Our team learned about the topic and became an expert. A value-creating relationship where everyone wins. Then came the pandemic and we changed the event to an online workshop format, in 2020 we partnered with PPA, via the Acceleration Program, and with Climate ventures again. And in 2021 AMAZ was born, baptized by us and which took shape with this captivating identity.

How many cases of this type does FutureBrand SP already have in its portfolio?

IS: We have a long history of projects linked to institutes, foundations and civil society organizations, such as Instituto Ayrton Senna, Fundação Lehman and AACD, for example, but we did not have in our portfolio impact cases linked to small and medium-sized companies such as startups accelerated by AMAZ. But since 2019, based on our work with Climate Ventures, we have worked with companies and organizations such as Boomera, Stattus 4, Confluentes, Seringô, Fundo Vale, Na'kau, Positive Ventures, Mombora, Café Apuí, Idesam, 100% Amazônia, Agropalma , etc. And with our big clients too, we help create sustainability platforms like Re. by Nestlé and the Cria! from Riachuelo, for example. And we have several other cases in progress.

Is there a difference between creating for a big brand, with a big projection in the market, and for impact businesses and CSOs?

IS: There's enough. The processes are more agile, the governance much simpler and without hierarchies, there is a huge opening for what we have to propose. It is a more collaborative process, not least because we choose methodologies that provide greater interaction. The big customer wants to see the delivery ready and doesn't have time to get so involved in the process. The climate is usually very nice in these projects for impact businesses and organizations that work in this ecosystem, the teams feel very engaged and motivated. And the creative freedom we have ends up expanding our possibilities of winning prizes with these cases, as we won with AMAZ and Mombora, for example.

For Future, what does this type of relationship add as an experience?

IS: It brings knowledge on very important topics such as climate change, agroforestry systems, regenerative economy, ESG, circular economy, carbon market, as well as depth in different value chains such as fashion, livestock, milk, palm oil and cocoa. . Each project becomes a kind of specialization in a subject. And how can we talk about future-proof brands if we don't understand these topics?

How did you approach AMAZ and create the accelerator ID?

IS: We had already done projects for Idesam, Café Apuí and Fundo Vale. All successful. It was natural to be considered as an option to develop AMAZ's branding. It was a delicious project, which flowed very well, in my view, with extremely correct bets on the choice of name and identity.

Future has been our partner for some time, what has it offered to the AMAZ portfolio businesses and how do you rate this connection?

IS: It really seems like a decade of partnership, but it's only three years. In addition to the workshops, we have many meetings, sometimes a new idea or a new challenge comes up, and I believe that, in our exchanges, we can help by bringing insights, or introducing partners. Last year we plugged AMAZ into a partner of ours (the defunct Decode, which is now part of our FutureBrand ecosystem) and they made very interesting deliveries of social listening and performance in the digital environment for the startups from AMAZ.

Are purposeful businesses, which aim to generate social and/or environmental impacts, the future of brands? How do you see consumer behavior in relation to this and the ESG wave?

 IS: Our purpose is to create brands that are future-proof and, in my opinion, there will only be a future for us, human beings, if brands really care and act in relation to the impact they generate, minimizing the negative effects, amplifying the positive ones. and establishing regenerative models in their businesses. It's a big paradigm shift that's under way, and the new generations have everything to connect to it and make a difference. And I really hope they do.

The consumer itself does not even know what ESG is, many are still in their infancy to understand what sustainability is, but there is a new awareness. I remember about 10 years ago I heard about veganism, and at that time a vegan person was practically an ET. Nowadays it's the most normal thing, it shows how many things are changing in behavior. 

Rampant consumerism is also in check. It became tacky to be a super consumerist. Detachment, thrift store clothes, now that kind of thing is cool.

These are changes that we are really seeing, maybe still a little niche, but that will gain scale. The number of customers and prospects that are emerging with this agenda only grows. A sign of good changes to come.

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