Over the course of the past few months, the world has seen an enormous shift in the way consumers live, shop, interact and do business with each other.
There are very few brands who have not been affected in some way, shape or form by the pandemic. Businesses have needed to be agile, often changing direction and indeed strategy to reflect the rapidly evolving context we find ourselves in.
And in our immediate context, just as we have begun to taste some degree of freedom and the gradual unwinding of the pressures of lockdowns and restrictions, it appears inevitable that our environment will again shift to feelings of isolation and the associated anxieties that that comes with.
But what does this mean for your organisation? Well, you have likely already recognised the level of change required to navigate this context, as well as the immediacy to which these changes were made. You now need to consider whether your brand narrative is appropriately defined to reflect the changes you have made and determine whether you need to overhaul your brand positioning to stay relevant in the minds of your key audiences.
Ultimately, this period represents the perfect timing to reflect on your brand and refine the brand narrative for what will be the new normal. It is time for brands to walk a mile in the client’s shoes and focus on what they really need and want from you, at both this point and beyond.
If it is the case that you have actively considered refining your brand narrative, you must first define the existing state of your brand, and then determine the future desired state of your offer. In order to prepare your brand for any percentage of strategic pivot, you should first consider:
1. Have you determined how your brand is currently positioning itself?
2. Can you identify, understand and compare the positioning of your direct competitors?
3. Have you responded by developing a right-sized brand pivot that is considerate of these factors?
Once you have an understanding of your dynamic market, you must put in place the contingencies to navigate the degree of change from what is existing. Your brand positioning must be aligned to the longer-term strategic thinking of your organisation. If your response to this period is not aligned with your brand, it will appear unauthentic and will not resonate with your audiences (at worst it may result in customer backlash).
Whilst it is important to establish a higher aspirational goal for your brand in light of the pandemic, the risks of repositioning your brand should also be considered. If you make a decision to shift your positioning, you need to be sure you aren’t completely abandoning the established position that had recognised you as a real force in the marketplace, especially for something you may not have earned credibility yet or is simply opportunistic. This can leave your brand in no-man’s land and in this overly competitive context, may cannibalise your existing and future sales.
As we always insist, a brand position needs to be credible. Part of that means aligning yourself in a place between what you’re already communicating, against where you’d like the brand to be; what your audience currently believes, and what the audience would value. It’s about balancing the experience of the brand, with the promise of the brand.
The most appropriate positioning for your organisation, in the context of the pandemic especially, should exist somewhere in the centre of these requirements. If your brand is positioned only by what existed before (what they already believe), it wont ever grow. If it is positioned too far towards where you hope it will go, especially towards rapidly expanding COVID markets, it won’t appear credible and sustainable. This process is one to be treaded carefully, you need to reinforce what you are in your customer’s minds, as well as stay relevant by nudging the brand to where you believe it needs to be.
Revisiting and refining your brand narrative can ensure your brand remains relevant during this period and beyond. Currently, consumers and employees are feeling vulnerable, uncertain and need reassurance. Brands need to lead with a distinct focus on their culture, their narrative needs to be reflective of both the internal and external. It is important that brands demonstrate their values, both to their customers and their employees.
Many agile brands have been able to easily adapt their messaging through the pandemic period and although we have gradually felt more comfortable and less apprehensive with the way we conduct business, the period to follow is the most crucial to get right. The next few months are likely to symbolise the ongoing nature of this pandemic and the new future we find ourselves in. Some brands have found obvious synergies in their past values, but many more need to dig a little deeper to find their right positioning to take to their evolving market.
It is time to take stock, weigh up the options and make your strategic moves. Unfortunately, during a crisis these strategic moves need to happen quickly. The key to getting this right is to dig deep into your brand values, and core purpose and ensure your marketing and messaging is aligned with our customer’s needs and addresses their new pain points. It is vital to rely on the experience and knowledge of your best people to lean in and make informed decisions.
Repositioning your brand represents a complex, strategic brand conundrum. But the benefits of defining the unique, relevant, credible and sustainable position that you own in this dynamic market will help to ensure your clients and prospects can clearly differentiate you from your competitors.
If your organisation needs assistance in the evaluation of your existing and future brand positioning, get in touch with the BrandMatters team here.