Popular Political Economist and Professor of Entrepreneurship, Prof Pat Utomi along with other professionals in the integrated marketing communication (IMC) industry have urged brands to rethink their strategy, business model, and work within regulatory frameworks if they desire to survive the volatility of the Nigerian economy today. They gave the submission at the second edition of Brandcomfest 2021, the annual gathering of stakeholders in the brands and marketing communications landscape, held at D’Podium Event Center, Ikeja, Lagos. The theme of this year’s conference was, “Dissecting the Prism of brand building in a volatile economy.” In his welcome address, the convener of Brandcomfest and publishers of Brand Communicator, Joshua Ajayi set the tone for free-flowing discussions. His words: “Despite claims of having the biggest GDP in Africa; it is irrefutable that Nigeria is deeply enmeshed in serious economic travails as all key economic indicators allude to this fact. More worrisome is the fact that no quick solution appears to be in sight. “Even as our economic managers battle to navigate the economy from troubled waters, brand owners are not expected to fold their arms as they have to ensure that their brands survive, and even thrive as the bumpy ride to Nigeria’s economic recovery continues.” During his presentation, Prof Utomi who was the Keynote Speaker of the event stressed that for brands to survive in a volatile economy like the type we are currently experiencing in Nigeria, they need to come under drivers that can bring creative destruction and the great disruptions He álso added that story-telling plays a vital role in brand building most especially at this time, “the story you tell about your reality is what the world will believe about your realities.” He specifically noted that the tech-space, for example, is growing remarkably in the country and that led Facebook now Meta founder, Mark Zuckerberg to visit the country and he took a long walk around some parts of Lagos freely with excitement and. That moment, he postulated, could have been used to sell the state and the country at large with just a picture of him in Lagos promoted across international media platforms. Other panellists that dissected the main theme of the conference with Utomi, urged brands to be customer focus, innovation-driven, and stay consistent with the winning formula while understudying consumer behaviour changes and they respond to changing times. The panellists include Lampe Omoyele, MD, Nitro 121; Nsima Ogedi-Alakwe, Marketing Director/ Country Project Lead, Unilever; Victor Afolabi, GCEO, Hazon Holdings; Ilyas Kareem, Group Marketing Director, Eat ‘N’ Go Africa and Emmanuel Agu, Group Marketing Director, Jotna Nig. In another segment, Dr Olalekan Fadolapo, Registrar/ Chief Executive, Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) hammered on the importance of regulation especially the newly Advertising Industry Standard of Practice (AISOP) to business sustainable businesses in the country when he spoke on “Standard of Practice: Shaping the Future of The IMC Industry” during the industry standard of practice plenary session. Fadolapo urged all stakeholders to support AISOP as it was meant to stabilize the market and make businesses thrive, and not strangulate brands. He stated that the reason for the 45 days payment term and pitch fee among other guidelines in the document is to strengthen brands and agencies’ relationships and stabilise the economy. Recall, ADVAN issued a statement recently opposing the new AISOP guidelines. He added that aside from pitch fee, they are other engagement with marketing communication agencies that does not attract fees like profile presentation, organising meet- and -greet, or visitation to agencies that brands can leverage on. Steve Babaeko, President of AAAN, and Femi Adelusi, President of MIPAN both pointed that AISOP is what the industry needs and its implementation will help create more jobs and stabilise businesses like it is done in many other thriving markets within and outside Africa. Abiodun Ajiborode, Brand and Trade Marketing Director, Monument Distillers Nig. Ltd, on his part, called for more consultation with parties opposing some of the terms stated in the standard of practice, adding that brand and agencies relationship has to be strengthened, especially at this time in the interest of building cordiality and collaborations for the growth of the industry Speaking on “Sustainability and Effective Branding: Managing brands for impact”, which was one of the sub-themes, Omobolanle Victor- Laniyan, Director, Head, Sustainability, Access Bank tasked brands to embrace sustainability, adding that consumers want to go with brands that are ethical as sustainability is the ‘new cool’ and the focal point of the future. Her words: “In recent years, consumer interest has increased in environmentally and socially conscious alternatives and these alternatives are continuously on the rise. “Although, there is a behaviour gap – the inconsistency between consumers’ attitudes and actual buying behaviour. However, the sustainability attributes are becoming largely important in brand valuation and success,” she explained. Titilope Oguntuga, Head, Sustainable Development/ Corp. Brand, Lafarge Africa, and one of the panellists in the session pointed that sustainability has come to stay due to the global focus on climate change and others issues. The moderator, Ken Egbas, Founder, TruContact CSR Nigeria also pointed out that sustainability is about longevity and urged brands to be deliberate about it. In the final segment, Israel Opeyemi, Chief Strategist, Chain Reaction while speaking on the topic, “PR practice: Exploring new business frontiers in the shrinking economy” as a lead discussant in the PR session said the IMC industry is in the age of convergence where advertising, Public relations, and others are integrating into each other. To survive in this current time, he urged PR practitioners to rethink their business model and expand their offerings. He gave some examples of offerings that his organisation launched; advisory, competition watch, policy formulation, regulatory advisory, purpose advisory among others. He added that PR agencies hoping to take leadership need to add to their workforce staff like content writers, cinematographers, researchers, business analysts, trend spotters, data analysts, sociologists, psychologists among others. The panellists in the PR session who also shared their wealth of experience are Bukola Shobowale, Business Director, Insight Publicis and Head of Business, Quadrant MSL; Jide Sipe, Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, Ecobank; Odion Aleobua, CEO, Motion Communications; and Tolulope Olorundero, Founder & Principal Consultant, Mosron Communications. Brandcomfest is designed to be the largest gathering of stakeholders in the brand and marketing communications landscape. The annual event caters to the most contemporary and topical issues in the industry, as the foremost thought-leadership platform for stakeholders within the brands and marketing communications value chain.