May 29, 2020

The Great Brand Reboot: 3 Steps


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In this all-new environment, implications for brands change in a blink. Our collective wish for a proverbial crystal ball may have never been more pressing. And while we’re all somewhat fatigued with the notion of “unprecedented”, it’s our reality. 

Many brands have questions about how best to engage with today’s market and what steps they can take to mitigate risk in the “next normal”. In response to the push and pull of information, shifting consumer sentiment is unified in ways that can be meaningful to businesses of all types, across industries. 

Where to Begin

The first is this: the concept of human connection is stronger than ever before. Every area of life demands heightened authenticity. In branding, we’re believers in the power of relationships; emotional messaging is critical in any category. Yet, as brands take steps to target current conditions, a sea of marketing sameness has surfaced (just look at any commercial right now). Research shows that consumers have appreciated COVID-19-related marketing messages but now appear ready to move on.

This landscape is extra challenging as brands struggle with how to differentiate and connect with their audiences. What is the right balance of empathy and practicality? How can we balance necessary sentiment with utility-based content? What will the next chapter look like?

And while most brands are anxious to adapt, it can be hard to balance immediacy with potential. What short-term triage is needed, without impacting the long-term brand vision? What is the right mindset to steer your brand? It’s often said that a people-first approach is what drives growth; today, there’s a society-first mindset that brands need to embrace. 

As brand managers and business leaders, we’ve all had to reexamine priorities and how we can more nimbly allocate resources. And many brands don’t have the luxury of seasons to reinvent (even agencies are revamping services for rapid, bite-sized sprints), but three distinct brand factors are necessities worth taking the time:  

  1. Revisit frame of reference, for most industries it’s notably changing as incumbents retreat and new entrants emerge—don’t underestimate movement as brands straddle new categories, and how that impacts your value.
  2. Pulse check audience sentiment to establish a “golden thread” of relevant messaging that will connect with them during this bridging time—pivoting strategies without derailing from your brand’s north star.
  3. Innovate creatively but quickly with new tactics, even with reduced budgets; consider what won’t be spent (in areas such as events and in-store experiences) and how those creative resources may be repurposed for emerging activations, like digital—at a fraction of the cost and with a shorter runway.


Move Purposefully

The one certainty we can count on, is that things will undoubtedly keep changing. If your brand is facing a blind spot—paralysis of any sort, or other unknowns about how to reboot for this post-COVID world in an ever-changing climate—just know that inertia is not the answer.

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