Well, here we are, somewhere in the midst of a global Pandemic.
I, for one, didn’t see this coming, and even if you did see this new world on the horizon, it would have been hard to predict the real ramifications for your life, your job, your business. And with regard to this post, your brand.
As a country, we have dealt with many challenges over the last few decades and one of the lessons the past has taught is that challenging times can also afford amazing opportunities. While it is tempting to get caught in the weeds of the daily business-related fire drills caused by the Pandemic, I would challenge you to try to find space in your psyche (and your calendar!) to think about the once in a lifetime opportunity you now have to really make a meaningful connection with your customers.
Now this may sound self-serving coming from a brand strategist, but I truly believe that there has never been a better time to take a step back and evaluate your overall brand strategy.
Just think about all the potential questions about your brand and business that you must have for your customers at this time. Things like:
- Is what we are saying still relevant today?
- How are our customers feeling? How is this impacting them?
- How have their behaviors changed?
- How are they feeling about you vs. competitors at this time?
I can think of 100 more, and I am sure you can too.
And if you don’t believe brand strategy is critically important right now, like any good strategist, I have done my research on the topic, here is just a sampling of the conversation:
“COVID-19 will change all of us. The key is to understand and analyze the human insight behind the changes, and which of them will stick.”
~ Ipsos, The Role of Research and Insights in COVID-19 Times, 4/29/20
In the PwC CFO survey, nearly 71% of business leaders from companies with more than $1 billion in revenue said they view this crisis as an opportunity to emerge stronger — particularly related to product and service innovations.
As businesses and brand builders, we are all (I’m going to say it) going through this together. Sorting through the madness, Zooming until you can’t Zoom anymore and trying to solve the near-term problems that are very likely filling your collective plates. But successful brand strategy is about really challenging yourselves to take a step back and not only think big picture but be open to doing things differently, if you need to.
The world around us, the world around your customers has and will continue to evolve and the importance of staying connected, of considering where you are strategically has quite literally never been as important.
But don’t panic. With the right strategic thinking and the right partners, your business’ next winning streak could be right around the corner.
In the meantime, here are three things we would suggest you do now to get ahead of this opportunity. These are steps we take all the time when we are creating, or in this case, re-optimizing, the brand foundations of our clients:
Keep it authentic:
Talk to the internal people at your company, not just the senior leaders but a mix of new members of the company as well as the more seasoned employees from a mix of disciplines. Ensure that as the pandemic has taken hold, that they still feel the same about the brand foundations. If they don’t, it’s time to consider two things: Do you need to shift your tone or strategy, or do you need to ensure that they understand how your brand really works in this new version of our world? We have worked with clients to develop solutions to address each of these needs but what is most important to keep in mind is that if the people that make your company run don’t believe in your foundations, it will never feel authentic to your customers.
Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions:
It has never been more important to talk to and listen your customers. At Full Contact we have clients that are doing better than they have ever done before and we have others that are still navigating their way through these tough waters. BOTH of these kinds of companies need to ask their customers or their customer-facing employees the tough questions about why and how their behaviors have shifted during this time. Monitoring and tracking customer input will help you pivot quickly, make those that are loyal to you feel heard and appreciated, and most importantly help you pave your path forward.
Closely monitor the competitive landscape:
Believe me, I know it is hard enough to stay on top of the day-to-day list of to-do’s right now, but keeping a close look at the competitive landscape is critical. Many of the brands you have watched in the past may be completely changing their story. They could be trying to ride on your business’ successes and claim to offer the same as you; they could be talking about a new innovation or option that you could consider for your own brand, or they quite simply could have dropped out of the conversation all together – giving you the opportunity to steal share.
Above are just three of the many things we think are important when thinking about the best way to strategically navigate through these world-changing, business-changing and life-changing events.
Hang in there.
“Often out of periods of losing come the greatest strivings toward a new winning streak.”
~ Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers)