Debating ‘Brand’: 5 Questions With One Question Producer Sarah Parsonage


One Question - What does brand really mean?

On February 27th in London, the new One Question event series, One Question Debates, will launch at the Soho Hotel. The format is simple: One question, one hour, one debate.

This evening event will see five leading experts square off on the topic of “What does brand really mean?”: Dan Balmer, President, UK & South Africa for Aston Martin Lagonda; Shane Bellamy, former PepsiCo Europe marketer who’s now Marketing Director, Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises; Fred Bolza, VP Strategy at Sony Music; Sarah Golding, The & Partnership London CEO and President of The IPA; Sarah Ogden, Head of Corporate Communications for 3Monkeys Zeno; and Interbrand Global Director Rebecca Robins.

One Question curates thoughtful content designed to challenge the way we think about our everyday. The live, 60-minute debate will be followed by an audience Q&A and exclusive cocktail reception. Over 100 guests at this exclusive event will hear a unique and thought-provoking debate on the value of a brand.

Sarah Parsonage - One QuestionFor more insights, we spoke with One Question producer Sarah Parsonage (right):

What was the inspiration for One Question?

The purpose of One Question is to produce thoughtful content in real life, print and online that challenges the way we think and forces us out of our comfort zones.

It’s becoming increasingly more apparent that while we might be the most connected generation of our time, we’re actually becoming more isolated from real life and genuine interaction. We’re now able to create our own news feeds, our own playlists, online-only relationships and even our own individual political ‘campaigns.’ In short, we’re creating personal echo chambers.

I created One Question to challenge this—to create an experience that’s about building sustainable relationships and asking the difficult questions like why, how and when.

One Question - One Hour

Why only one question?

Most events are run on a footfall-based model, where more people equal more leads, and therefore perceived sales. But it’s just not sustainable. There’s overlap, wastage and a scattergun approach that not only turns people off, but also doesn’t work.

One Question stands for quality over quantity, with an emphasis on building meaningful and sustainable relationships. I truly believe this is this is the kind of business we all want to do.

By asking one question, on one day, in one venue, we curate a conversation that allows speakers, partners and guests to delve deep in to a single subject. Our guests hear differing perspectives from the worlds of AI, Advertising, Government, Data, Finance and Healthcare.

This allows them to look outside of their day-to-day lives, reconsider their own opinion and learn from others in a way they might not have previously considered.

You’ve talked to some impressive brands at previous events, such as IBM and Pixar. Can you share with us some of the insights about how they’re making a difference?

IBM is a making a difference through its investment in innovation in areas that matter, including healthcare, climate change and education. Furthermore, for a company with a 100-year-old heritage, their brand values are core to the business; diversity, equal opportunity and openness all of which are intrinsic to sustaining a successful brand today. Pixar uses the most stunning form of creative storytelling to tell convey real-life issues to millions of generations. It is as simple and as stunning as that.

Why did you choose the question “What does brand really mean?” for the kick-off to your debate series?

We designed the Debates iteration of One Question to act as a shorter exploration of a single topic. The first question we’re tackling is hyper-relevant at a time when not only business, but consumers as well, no longer trust government or media to inform our daily decision-making. More so, we look to brands for insight, inspiration and to provide a window to what’s happening in the world.

Because of this, I believe that brands now have a larger responsibility than ever before. And let’s not forget that they’ve also got to balance the bottom line in the process. Therefore, debating what ‘brand’ really means, or perhaps more importantly what it should mean, is going to be an amazing conversation.

What kind of conversation are you hoping this panel will spark?

The panel was curated in order to offer a variety of perspectives, including FMCG, automotive, music, advertising and communications. As a result, guests can expect a lively discussion of the responsibility of a brand in 2018 and how brand values and brand purpose should trickle down to every part of any business.

I expect a lot of conversation on a what a brand really means now, versus 15 years ago and in 15 years’ time, both in the UK and globally. It is a live 60-minute debate so I expect to cover quite a lot of ground with some feisty questions from the audience.

Get more insights in our Q&A series.

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