Before you even start reading, we need to be straightforward with you: adapting your brand to the moment cannot be solved in three easy steps. This article will not give you a quick-fix to the moment we are all in because we don’t believe there is a lasting quick-fix if you’re not in touch with your brand’s reason for being. What we will do is continue to be honest with you about what makes brands resilient and how investing in understanding your core purpose will provide a roadmap for any storm that may come your way.
“Your brand is having a moment.”
We’ve been telling our clients this at the beginning of every strategic conversation because it’s true…for all of them. We believe it so much that we wrote two posts about it (Part I and Part II), planned a whole campaign around it, and framed all of our brand workshops around it.
And then the world changed in an instant and our phrase took on a whole new meaning, yet the truth behind it remained very much the same: brands that invest in understanding their core purpose and know how to adapt to the moment they are in are the ones that stand the test of time.
Kodak made a brilliant marketing move in the early 90s by coining the phrase “a Kodak moment”, but when they lost focus on the spirit of that statement (captuing a memory) and remained focused on the physical means of doing so (the film), their future quickly became bleak as the world shifted to digital.
Lego almost hit bankruptcy in the early 2000s, but as they refocused on what people (of all ages) loved about their product (hint: imagination), recommitted to producing only what they had expertise in, and created smart collaborations with select entertainment brands, they began to thrive again and haven’t lost speed yet.
Which one sounds more like you and the moments you’ve been through?
How about the present moment?
Understanding your moment starts with being honest with yourself
From our experience, we’d guess that your brand may fall into one of three groups:
- You’ve made it this far with a product or service that solves a problem. You’ve relied on good R&D, smart engineering, and a dedicated sales team to get the business up and running, but brand has never been front of mind. You’re realizing that to get noticed and move from respected to preferred (read: memorable), you’re going to need to start thinking about how you are perceived as a company and become the unquestionable choice.
- You’ve lost track of your brand’s reason for existing and you’re making decisions on the fly. Fast-paced growth, a few acquisitions, or operating with a short-term mindset for several years has led you away from why you first started the business. You’re doing pretty well, but you’re also very aware that you need to be able to confidently forge ahead with an adaptable brand story that makes sense both now and in the future.
- Your brand is well defined and you’re well-versed in your reason for existing, but right now you need a different approach than what’s worked before to quickly adapt to a virtualized world. Whether it’s updating your messaging, visual identity, or creating a new experience, you need a top-notch brand so you can continue to thrive.
Be honest with the current state of your brand. If you think of your brand as living on an ever-changing roadmap, you can’t accurately see the path ahead if you’re not starting in the right location.
Conquering your moment starts with a partnership
Okay, so what’s next? Another dose of honesty: regardless of which camp you’re in, you can’t do the introspection, strategic thinking, and creative lift alone. You’re in business because you’re good at what you do, but you need a creative strategist to partner with people on your team, help them think through the tough questions, and innovate creatively on behalf of your brand. And that means you have to be willing to let go, delegate, and trust.
While we could whimsically give you a list of three steps to confidently bring your brand through the current moment or show you our best before and afters, the truth is that you probably don’t have time to go through that material anyway.
Now, more than ever, you need a partner who’s committed to the well-being and longevity of your brand. You need a team that lives and breathes this stuff.
But just in case you’re curious, we’d start with questions like this to ensure a firm foundation to move forward in the moment:
- Why do your most enthusiastic employees come to work each day?
- Are you willing to let go of how things have been done in the past?
- When was the last time you asked your employees what they think?
- What foreseeable changes (in your market, in people’s habits, in other companies) on the horizon scare you?
- What do people feel when they think about your brand? Do you have tools in place to know?
- Does your brand identity accurately reflect the personality within?
- Do you and your product team focus on what you make or why people love what you make?
- Can your brand easily adapt to different experiences and circumstances?
- Where are your customers’ voices evident in what you do?
It’s a lot to think about, and maybe even a bit uncomfortable, but assessing the foundation of your brand with an outside party and ensuring its sturdiness is how unshakable brands are built to adapt and stand the test of time.