The status quo is no longer an option – do we need to say it again?

Katie McQuater is magazine editor at The Drum. As well as editing the monthly print edition of the magazine, she writes features for the publication and contributes opinion pieces in her leader column. She tweets @KatieMcQuater.

The Drum's 22 February issue

“Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Not from the places you’re applying, not from your boss, not from your creatives, not from your developers, not from your clients.”

That’s the advice given by Morgan Burrows, interactive producer at Crispin Porter + Bogusky and one of this year’s 50 under 30, when asked what words of wisdom she would offer someone entering marketing. It’s a resilience that seems to characterise each and every one of the 50 young women in digital who grace the pages of our latest print issue.

In our annual attempt to highlight the most successful women under 30 in a traditionally male-dominated industry, we are celebrating the twentysomethings killing it across advertising, strategy, content, social, mobile and more. Take Cassi Norman, for instance, who appears on this issue’s cover and whose work at Goodby Silverstein & Partners helped rally Silicon Valley companies and social media to create an ‘anti-bullying’ emoji that would empower people witnessing cyberbullying with a tool to help shut it down.

There’s more that brands and marketers can learn from these individuals. How to stay relevant, for instance. “Being unique makes you stand out,” says Influencer Marketing Agency’s Maddie Raedts. “Don’t just be another marketing agency or do what others do.”

It may sound simple, but often the desire to do things differently is lost along the way for brands, publishers and agencies. At a time when publishing in particular is under a microscope thanks to fake news, standing out could mean the difference between thriving in an online age and dying amidst a deluge of pointless content.

Known for its unique approach to long-form content, Atlantic Media-owned Quartz is one publisher constantly innovating in its quest to stay relevant to its readership – a mission that has led it to invest in artificial intelligence and develop a chatbot app to help its journalists deliver news and insights. Media columnist Ian Burrell has been finding out more about the outlet’s plans to shake up the notoriously pedestrian world of B2B research reports.

The marketing industry can often appear navel-gazing and insular, unable (or unwilling) to draw inspiration from external influences or admit its failings. But as Havas’ Meaningful Brands report, released earlier this month, found, people wouldn’t care if three-quarters of the brands they use disappeared – a stat that has remained the same since the study began in 2008. Meanwhile, the majority of content created by brands does nothing but contribute to an already cluttered landscape. So now is the time to act. Even Yannick Bolloré, chief executive of the Havas Group, admits brands and the industry that supports them will “struggle to survive” if they don’t get their act together and better seize the “opportunities that good content can offer”.

We have also spoken to one brand that has largely eschewed traditional advertising, drawing its energy from the principles of the circular economy and sustainability while at the same time making a profit. It sounds too good to be true, but seems to be working for outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, which famously adopted an anti-consumerist stance with its 2011 press ad ‘Don’t Buy this Jacket’, and which continues to be led by the principles of its company’s mission statement – ‘Build the best product. Cause no unnecessary harm’.

In a world full of ambitious proclamations around brand purpose, here’s one that genuinely knows what its purpose is. Furthermore, it’s using that purpose in a way that could begin to reinvent the role brands play in our lives.

This leader was first published in the 22 February issue of The Drum magazine.

Katie McQuater

As magazine editor at The Drum, I edit the monthly print edition of the magazine as well as commissioning and writing features for the publication.

Send feature pitches to katie.mcquater@thedrum.com

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