Updated: Feb 17
WHY BRANDS MUST BE BRAVER AND MIGHTIER THAN EVER BEFORE
The last two years have been eye-opening, to say the least. Some businesses buckled, some had record sales. Some companies learned how to pivot in record time, and by and large, those that did came out on top. We know that the US economy has slumped, but shows signs of recovery - even as I write this, the Delta Variant has wreaked havoc on consumer confidence and slowed upside down once again… And then there’s Evergrande. We can be certain that the times are uncertain.
If you look back on the past 18 months - knowing what you know now - would you have handled things differently? Opened sooner, or more slowly? More strictly followed local guidelines, or maybe not? Answers might vary depending on where you are located… And unfortunately, they may depend on the quite-divided political scene around the country (US). Chances are, if you made a call one way or the other, somebody called you out for being a blind sheep or an inconsiderate, anti-science low life. We live in a time when consumers want the brands they support to share their values, and be vocal about them.
’68% of consumers expect brands to be clear about their values’
47% of consumers see the values and politics of a company’s CEO as the values and politics of the brand itself.
So, playing it safe is no longer safe, and taking a stand may very well alienate some loyal customers. This is why brands must be brave - MIGHTY - and sage-smart as they look forward to the way the Covid era has transformed markets and the way consumers expectations have changed. Being a fence sitter is not MIGHTY, and it is not brave. But you don’t need to be all over every hot button issue, signal virtualing your way around the internet, either.
‘Every Brand is a Book - Who’s Telling Your Story?’
It may be time to Rebrand. In fact, it probably is the perfect time to ask a few questions about the state of your brand - in light of COVID and the mark it has left on your market.
Is my brands story connecting to my audience?
I can’t tell you how many clients I work with that lose sight of their own story from day to day. And I get it, we are all busy and have a million hats to wear. But if you’re not telling your story, someone else is - and the brand you have been building can take a knick when long-time customers post a not-so-flattering review on your social pages because you weren’t wearing a mask when they last paid you a visit…
Take charge. If you own a music store because you love music, and want to share some of the joy you’ve delighted in with your local community, then tell that story. Live it. Own it. Love it. Maybe you have a love and a penchant for vintage or high-end handmade guitars. Wonderful. Talk about those things with passion and childlike giddy. You are showing your brand in your enthusiasm. On the other hand, if you own a music store because you had grand illusions of being the next Elon Musk, I have a bridge to sell you. And we’d better have a chat about how you’re going to brand a business in which your primary goal is to make money… Because that is not going to inspire anyone to be in your corner.
Am I spotlighting my brands alignments?
Don’t signal virtue, but do be honest about your values. If you have an issue that is very close to your heart, it is more than ok for your brand to be aligned with that issue. Last year we saw major manufacturers and retailers release statements that clarified their stance against racism. Some of those brands even made specific promises and commitments to do better. Maybe for you it’s vaccinations, or homelessness, or domestic violence, or mental health, or human trafficking. Whatever issue is close to your heart - it is quite ok to take a stand. Post about solutions, non-profits doing great work, run a contest where proceeds go to a charity that defines the things you care about. In a sense, when your brand becomes synonymous with making the word a little bit better, you are doing something right.
Am I building a community around my brand?
The pandemic has made us weary, and more isolated than ever. As the world crawls back into place, many people are still shopping online, ordering through Door Dash and Instacart, and trying to stay safe, even while the world opens back up. So in addition to your traditional customer relationships, now more than ever it is a good time to start building a group of champions and making your social media channels a place of engagement and community. Interact. Respond, Ask on-brand questions, and have some fun with it!
If you have changed your business strategy. If your employees values aren’t aligned with your brand values, if you have outgrown an old brand identity - or if you have just lived through a hellacious pandemic, it may be time to reflect on what your brand stands for. And if you’re asking these and other important questions about what your brand says to the watching world, it may be the perfect time to rebrand and rise out of these times like a phoenix on fire!