Where does your brand fit in The Future Foundation’s vision of what’s to come – magical lifestyle partner or friend next door? Tiffanie Darke reports

What’s the future for brands, their advertising and the agencies that serve them? It’s the kind of territory that hits predictions agency The Future Foundation right on its sweet spot.

Chair Melanie Howard yesterday presented the results of a survey conducted with the IPA that imagined four enticing scenarios for brand engagement by 2025.

‘Brand ME-Q’, ‘Me and the Brand Next Door’, ‘Best Buy Brands’ and ‘iControl’ are the four categories into which brands should look to position themselves.

Yes – us neither. Cue Meabh Quorin who explained each category in connection to a single brand.

Brand Me-Q, where the brand establishes an emotional connection and becomes your lifestyle partner, is where she imagines British Airways. Having recently pioneered a ‘happiness blanket’ – a biometrically enabled blanket that reads the emotional and physical needs of first-class passengers and transmits them to the crew – Quorin anticipates 3D printing technology making individual pillows a standard feature for economy-class passengers by 2025.

These pillows will not only signal all passenger requirements – they will be sufficiently ‘magical’ and enchanting to promote social chatter and word of mouth amongst BA’s audience.

She then explained Me and the Brand Next Door in relation to O2. Here, we treat brands as friends; but we are the ego, and our desire to elevate ourselves through social media is our overwhelming ambition.

O2 already serves its customers with ‘special moments’, which Quorin sees as an opportunity for its customers to allow their personality to shine through. You can choose your favourite moments, and then allow O2 to edit, curate and elevate them through an automated and animated selfie.

They call it the ‘future of the sponsored self ’, where the brand follows the consumer, not vice versa. Brace yourselves.

iControl is where things get more complicated. This is for the autonomous consumer who doesn’t need or want a brand to govern them – the brand can only get a look in with this consumer if it can weave its way into the tech that powers their experience.

Quorin sees an opportunity for L’Oréal, whose recently launched virtual make-up experience app allows the user to envision themselves as their ‘flawless’ self. By 2025, she suggests, this service could have evolved into a social shopping app, partnering with brands like Topshop and platforms like Pinterest to allow each consumer to curate full looks. In turn, the consumer rates the brand, awarding them credit points for how useful they have been.

Finally, we judge Best Buy Brands entirely on their price point and functionality – they’re essentially no frills required. Bring on the Alibaba Lending Club, a new service from the Chinese retail giant that creates an ecosystem for customers to borrow money, to spend more on, er, Alibaba. In the future, Quorin sees Alibaba powering small businesses to provide the best services and products to Alibaba customers – and charging them for it.