In these times everything seems out of control. You have to focus on things that are within your control. One of the things you are able to control is your brand. However, are you in control of your brand, or is your brand controlled by the outside world? Let’s find out how your brand can be the life-saver that keeps you afloat when the world around you goes head under.
Brand Fact | Strong brands recover faster
Recent history shows that strong brands recover faster. After the 2008 financial crisis strong brands did recover 9x faster *. Which immediately raises three questions:
- What makes a brand strong?
- What does it take to get in control?
- How to stay in control of your brand even when you’re steering through a storm like the covid-19 pandemic?”
Be yourself in an empathic way
The covid19-crisis has taken each one of us on an emotional rollercoaster ride. At times like these brands should behave like empathic individuals. Able to suspend their own viewpoint and put themselves in their customer’s shoes. Responding to customers feelings is critical. And could start by asking yourself the questions; How do our customers feel? What are their needs, functional or emotional? And in what ways will they expect your brand or brands in general to respond? Which leads us to the brand function.
A brand has many functions. The way in which you fulfill these functions largely determines the way in which customers perceive your brand and its behaviour. Let’s outline some basic functions. The ones that are very important particularly in times of crisis.
- Quality sign |Where branding started as a sign of ownership by brand marking kettle. It evolved into a visual and contextual sign for recognisable ‘guarantee’ of quality. Continuity in your brand supply in times of crisis will reassure your strength.
- Decision assistant | A strong brand creates instant simplification for decision making. And is an expression of certainty and reliability. But, if you have to shut down your service, as many still are. You have to supply related information to your service anticipating on future decisions.
- Caretaker offering confidence | In uncertain times, like where we are right now, brands have an opportunity to provide confidence and reassurance. Showing that they are still standing strong. And especially by showing that they understand the true needs.
- Platform | Strong brands function as a bonding platform. They can form a strong, almost tribal solidarity with tremendous impact. Firing up the drive to act together both internally and externally.
- GPS versus black box| A black box simply registers communication and actions that have taken place in the past a gps looks ahead. Since we the past is a fact. Our focus should be on our brand as a gps, showing the road ahead, the way to follow, keeping us on the right path.
So, a brand is much more than the foundation for success in marketing and communication. It is a powerful instrument for leadership and management. Which brings us to the controls you have that help you building and enforcing a strong brand.
The DNA of a strong brand
Consistency rules, especially in times of crisis. When the shit hits the fan. You enter a storm and all hands have to stay a deck to help keep the ship from sinking. It’s hard to keep focusing on your directions at the same time. Go with the flow can be tempting but you can get lost and swept off course. So, you need to stay ahead of the stream by starting from and holding-on to a simple and usable shared foundation. A short overview of the most important starting points and elements that help you build and maintain your brand identity.
- Brand centric leadership | Especially in times of crisis people will be looking for strong leadership. These are the times that the leaders of companies, the people behind the brands, show their faces. They take firmly stand behind the steering wheel. And show that they know what they stand for and bring their followers through the storm. A strong brand is much, much more than a sign on the road. A strong brand is a way of living that starts with the CEO and the entire board. Strong brands are a constant part of every step taken. A strong brand starts with brand-centric leadership that leads by exemplify.
- Relevance: | Strong brands incorporate a shared relevance that not only gives guidance. It provides a clear action framework with defined brand limits. Do not lose time in discussing whether decisions made are right or wrong. Ease clear values and action frameworks. But where did the crisis take you? Check your mission. Find the prove that your mission still stands even in times of crisis. Does the distinctive market you were conquering, still makes you stand out from the crowd. And does your unique pro-position connects with the special needs your target audiences have in these troublesome times?
- Brand Values | Your core brand values are sacred. People’s response to a crisis vary by their basic attitude to life. Be aware that being empathic may never lead to losing your own identity. Especially in times of stress it is important to safeguard your authenticity. By aligning your brand’s response from within the existing positioning and core brand values. Over the years I’ve moderated dozens of workshops on the positioning of companies and brands. Brand values are always neglected. No management team let apart the employees, suppliers, or partners. Wherever able to instantly recall their core brand values when asked. Invest, in recalibrating your core values. See to it that you work with a compact set of three, most four brand values. Values that make you stand out of the crowd. Energise, guide, and inspire creativity and challenge to take the right actions. But also invest in consequently and consistently applying these values. Whatever actions you take, checking whether they are in line with your core values is a necessity. This will speed up your own decision-making process. And response time and will strengthen your brand over and over.
Your brand After the crisis
What goes for those in the frontlines of healthcare goes for your brand. Be prepared and don’t panic especially in times of change. The covid-19 crisis has been a tipping point to new undiscovered territories. And change is definitely here to stay. How do you prepare your brand for after the crisis?
- Through the crisis and beyond | Now is the time for companies to distinguish themselves. To innovate and to show social responsibility. A crisis proves to be a good breeding ground for creativity. Do not change your identity. But act in line with your chosen identity. So that customers see that you, as a company, as a brand, do not lose yourself in panic but continue to operate from your own strength. Strengthened the unity within the company behind the brand by reconfirming the values in every move. Test your proposition.
- Your brand in a more engaged society | It looks like a more engaged society is emerging from the crisis. And those companies and brands that have proven and keep on proving that they bring value to society. And not only to their shareholders will bounce back faster to their growth track than others.
Key take aways
Every brand, on average has between 30 to 100 brand touchpoints. For those touchpoints to create a consistent brand experience. Steer all interactions that happen with relevant target groups in the same direction. What goes for the healthcare professionals in the frontlines goes for your brand. Be prepared and don’t panic. Know your basics, keep them simple and stick to them. Understand what customers expect on how your brand will act in any given situation but see to it that:
- Understand what makes your brand authentic towards your target audience and protect this. Stay close to your employees and customers, show your empathy and loyalty.
- Stick to your core values (most 3-4). Always check whether content, communication, products, and services are in line with these core values.)
- Stick to your mission. This one-line that boosts you when you wake up in the morning and gets you and your team and customers going. Go out! Use the media! Your audience is using tight now. And create engaging moments. That deliver your brand at those moments that matter most for your customers.
If you need assistance or a fresh second opinion on your brand position and what it takes to strengthen your brand performance, please get in contact.