Now is not the time for your brand to batten down the hatches.
For any brand born since the Great Depression, the current global pandemic is creating an environment of challenges and chaos never seen before. The extent, speed and impact of these changes have turned the world upside down for brand owners and managers. For some brands there will be no way to traverse the months ahead and emerge in one piece. For most though, the way they choose to approach this challenging time will very much impact where they stand once the dust settles and the world finds its equilibrium again.
The 6 things you should be doing right now to best manage your brand through the economic challenges of coronavirus-19.
01. Take Stock
With very few exceptions, the playing field for brands has shifted. Whatever you thought the business landscape was from supply chains and competitors to customers, and why and how they buy – it’s time to think again. Usually when markets shift, the greatest challenge for brand owners and managers is to break down the paradigm constructed over years that has made them a niche expert in their business. It is time to deconstruct and then reconstruct your understanding of these brand foundations.
02. Understand Audience Sentiment
Perhaps the most important dimension of the change in brand environment is Audience Sentiment. As the commercial world becomes unstable, business and consumer mindset is impacted by fear and anxiety. Security and survival become the name of the game, and brands who can help them to achieve a sense of that are seen as highly valuable. Understanding changes to your audience and their sentiment relative to your product or service is critical.
03. Scenario Plan
Once you understand your new brand paradigm, it’s time to develop a series of potential repositioning scenarios. How might your product or service be positioned to serve the new needs of the market. For instance a brand that was previously positioned to help small business grow might now be better positioned to provide the funds necessary to keep the ship afloat until those small businesses are sailing in smooth waters once again.
04. Testing Your Ideas
For many small to medium businesses, choosing the right strategy is often driven by gut feel, based on proximity to audience and years in the game. And in normal times, this approach can be effective. But when the world turns on its head and consumer and business mindset shifts dramatically, your gut can be directing you to an old strategy that is unsuitable in this new environment. Testing scenarios with a neutral perspective is more important than ever to draw out the insights you need to forge your new brand direction.
05. Adjust Your Brand Value Proposition
Once testing has provided the insight and clarity to confidently select a new brand direction, the first step is to adjust your brand value proposition accordingly. Ideally you want to quickly build out the other layers of brand definition in order to direct the business in how to re-aim the brand and it’s myriad of activities. But should time and budget not allow for a fully considered response, a new and clear brand value proposition will set you in good stead.
Communication is key to all brands at all times, but never so important as it is now. If you have successfully carried-out the first five of these steps you now have a compelling need to re-position your brand in the mind of your market. Whilst shifting brand perceptions in an audience is never an easy task, in times of chaos and stress people become even more rigid in their thinking, making the task of brand repositioning tougher still. Nonetheless, this final step is the most important and no amount of hard work can be too much in order to achieve this repositioning.
Develop your new brand messaging, new digital/web assets, new packaging and product benefit mnemonics, develop your new sales and marketing collateral that all support the new brand value proposition. And develop them fast. This is a case of better to be in market with imperfect brand comms that spending extra time searching for perfection.
Once you have your brand communications in new order, get them to market as quickly, consistently and robustly as possible. Our recommended approach is overkill. When you reach the point where repeating your new brand positioning one more time will send you mad, your clients and customers are likely taking it in properly for the first time.
As tough as things feel right now and as compelling as the instinct to batten down your hatches, there has never been a more critical time to be actively managing your brand. In the terrible economic times ahead there will be many businesses who don’t survive, and few if any will emerge unscathed. And whilst brand is not a bullet proof coat of armour for your business, it does present a key strategy to help you navigate past the landmines that lie ahead.
If you would like some help in repositioning your brand over this time, please get in touch – we’d be only too happy to help.
In the mean time, stay calm and in the words of a very wise business fiend of mine: “This too shall pass”.
David is the founder of Truly Deeply, a branding agency with 30 years experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in the creation of high engagement brands that attract the attention of their audience and stand out from their competitors. David has extensive experience working with corporate, retail, food & beverage and entrepreneurial clients. Find out more here
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