Branding Strategies are not developed, maintained or advanced in a vacuum. The events occurring around the globe (good, bad and otherwise) affect your target audience members’ opinions and world views on a nearly daily basis. This, in turn, affects how they view other things that may seem unrelated to those world events.
This includes your brand.
Whether you sell coffee, cleaning supplies or advice, what your brand says and does will be viewed through a global-view filter…and it’s up to you to determine how that filter is affecting your ideal customers.
There are civil wars, religious wars, Brexit, the U.S. Presidential election and transition, terrorism, political demonstrations, a volatile global economy, global warming…and that’s just what’s in the news on a daily basis. That’s a lot, and each facet affects perceptions of your brand.
So for all you businesses owners and entrepreneurs who want to maximise your brands’ potential: Let’s look at how the state of the world affects the continual, necessary evolution of branding strategies.
Branding Strategies that React to (and grow with) a Changing World
The world seems to be in a continual state of change. What does that mean for our brands? It means that our branding strategies must respond to that change, in ways that accommodate our corporate values AND our ideal customers. A few brands, including Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike, Virgin and McDonald’s have done this well. What’s their secret?
The branding strategies of the most resilient brands have a few things in common, including the following:
- Know that flexing your branding strategy doesn’t mean changing your brand. Your ideal customers adore your brand for what it is. They don’t want it to change, at its core. What they do want is for it to bend and stretch in response to their immediate needs...in such a way that makes any adjustment practically indiscernible—sort of like a pair of jeans that always fits, no matter if you lose five kilos or gain ten.
- Understand the power and scope of emotion. This is huge. The heart trumps the brain in sales and marketing…and that’s when there’s no turmoil affecting global views. Add exterior stimuli (positive or negative) and all of a sudden, emotions are high and snaking into all aspects of consumers’ responses and decision-making. Always be aware of this phenomenon. This awareness will not only help you to know why consumers are responding the way they are, it will help you to predict future behaviour and give them what they need before they need it.
- Pay attention to how feedback evolves. Human nature dictates that when we’re feeling distress, we have a more pessimistic view in all areas—even those that seem to have nothing to do with the source of our distress. Keep this in mind as you field and respond to feedback. Be sensitive, especially to negative comments, and always ask yourself, How are current events affecting their view of my brand? How can I adjust my responses, within my branding strategy and in-line with my corporate values, to make my brand the brand they need right now?
- Initiate contact. As busy brand managers, it’s easy to become accustomed to putting out marketing messages and responding to comments…and that’s where it ends. It is imperative, especially in times of change, that business owners and managers reach out to their audiences, just to check in. Often, under-the-surface shifts in view are going on—shifts that we won’t know about until it’s too late (i.e. the competition beats us to the proper response). This practice not only gives us the information we need to grow and evolve our branding strategies, it shows our customers that we’re there for them in times of jubilation and turmoil.
- Commit to being a masterful listener. Active Listening has become a buzz-phrase that brings to mind things like eye contact, head nodding and affirmation. There’s more. In relation to our branding strategies, Active Listening means taking everything our audiences are saying and asking ourselves what clues those statements give us about current perceptions of our brands. They’ll also let us know when perceptions have changed, so we can identify what has disturbed those perceptions and mitigate before too much damage is done to our brands’ reputations.
- Move quickly. The best way to respond to change in a rapid manner is to educate all team members in your unique mission, vision, values, procedures and branded language. Oftentimes, when political and economic climates (and therefore attitudes) change as rapidly as they have been, there’s no time for hierarchal procedures that take more time than the actual responses. Give your team the power to interact with customers. Give them the freedom to make mistakes. Give them the power to make your branding strategy a flexible, evolutionary sales and marketing tool for your brand.
We are living in a changing world: one in which the news of that change can make it to the opposite side of the globe in seconds. We, as branders and marketers, need to create branding strategies that are flexible and reactive enough to respond in ways that build our brand and prove how in-tune we are with the needs and emotions of our audiences. Gone are the days of steadfast branding strategies; today’s branding strategies are living, breathing entities that must move, bend and twist within the parameters set by our corporate values.
Do you want this level of flexibility and responsiveness for your brand? Do you want to beat your competition to meeting the changing needs of your ideal customers? Then I would strongly suggest that you enrol in our B.R.A.N.D. Building Bootcamp—a full-day branding experience designed for the highly-motived entrepreneur or business owner who is interested in learning about fast-growth branding and marketing. Click here to register and learn about our deep-discount early-bird specials.