Disruptive Brands/Disruptive Leaders: Web Series by John Diefenbach

“Disruptive brands are reinventing the way we work and behave . . . ”
-John Diefenbach, Disruptive Brands/Disruptive Leaders

For half a century, the global markets and the technologies that drive the global markets have been manifested and illustrated by brands. Today, we live in a wide world where we have come to expect internet brands to disrupt businesses, often changing the game by inventing or re-inventing the way we work and behave. One could say that brands like Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Google, not in existence less than 20 years ago, are now among the most important and well-recognized brands of today’s economy. How did we get to this place of expectation about the adventurous and positive role of new companies in society?

John Diefenbach, Chairman of MBLM, explores the history of branding in his web series, Disruptive Brands/Disruptive Leaders, transitioning through the 1980’s and 1990’s toward global consumer facing brands. A branding luminary, John has worked across the world and has a particular passion for brands where national culture is involved. His clients have included British Airways, Lufthansa, South African Airways, Kodak, Mercedes, Disney, Coca Cola, and the Alfred Nobel Foundation.

The second in the series discusses the 1980s, when the business world was increasingly aware of the convergence of global markets and the technology that was driving those global markets. In the 1980’s the branding world exploded. There were pioneering companies that represented significant milestones in branding. It was like an incubation decade for making technology accessible to the masses.

It was the time when hardware and software started coming together. And at the end of the decade, in 1989, the World Wide Web was invented. Like today, there were companies lead by visionary entrepreneurs that not only leveraged innovation and technology, but also promoted it in the context of a bigger purpose, one that benefited not only the company, but the individual and society as a whole.

If the 1980’s can be categorized as the decade of enthusiasm, the 1990’s, the third decade investigated by Diefenbach, was a period of a booming global economy. There were extraordinary, almost miraculous changes, in the world. And, the technological landscape was transformed. Emerging in the 1990’s is the idea that human behavior itself could be captured like “light in a bottle” and that business tools and ideas could empower the individual. And, importantly, that brands could be seen as a way of enriching people’s lives.


Throughout the series, John has endeavored to highlight companies and entrepreneurial leaders who used the technology of their time to innovate and, sometimes, embraced a social purpose for society as well. Along the way you will see some favorite projects of the past including Steve Jobs and Apple’s Think Different Campaign, Akio Morita and the Sony Walkman as well as Nelson Mandela and South African national symbolism.

This series will sure to be a special treat for branding aficionados and those just beginning to delve into the wonderful world of branding.