Thomas L. Friedman, Hot, Flat and Crowded Energy Technology and BrandsWednesday night I had the rare honor of hearing New York Times columnist, best-selling author and three-time Pulitzer winner, Thomas L. Friedman speak at the OSU Executive Management Briefing.

I’ve been a fan of Friedman’s work ever since 2006 I when decided to picked up The World is Flat to see what all the fuss was about. It only took reading a couple of pages before I was driven into a full blow Friedman cram session, devouring every bit of the Lexus and the Olive Tree (to catch up) and then picking up where I had left off in the World is Flat.

Friedman’s presentation touched on the highlights of his newest book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, which addresses the energy crisis facing the world and the revolution it will take to overcome it.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas L. FriedmanFriedman took the audience back in time to remember the IT revolution that he spoke of in The World is Flat, but then went on to tell how a new revolution is going to have to happen in order to solve the approaching crisis. He calls this new revolution the ET revolution, which stands for Energy Technology.

He went on to say that, in the same way that companies had to “change or die” in the IT revolution, companies again are going to have to “change or die” in the ET revolution. These changes will take dedicated commitments, inside and out. Friedman explained it this way,

Change or Die. Don’t just add green racing stripes. 

This reminded me of how branding is so often misunderstood as being simply the creative and visuals on the outside of a brand. When in reality, it’s the less than glamorous internal focus and strategies that make up strong authentic brands.

Greenwashing is in full swing right now. Everyone’s jumping in the pot to get their cut from green, but before the ET revolution can happen, brands must go beyond plastering their images with green coatings and internalize true commitments to strategizing and executing these changes.

The business world needs to get branding now more than ever.

Change or die.