Brands post COVID-19
Why you should be thinking about yours now.
Branding isn’t anything new. It’s been a cornerstone of a company since the first one was created. However, while branding as an act doesn’t necessarily change, what consumers value in a brand does. And maybe now, more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what consumers need, want and demand has changed significantly, and brands have to adapt to these changing behaviors quickly, or they will be left behind.
What is a brand?
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as “A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” While this is a true definition of what a brand is, in our ever-changing business climate, we know a brand is much more than a feature. A brand reflects the stance that the company takes. It equates to an experience that the consumer will have. It is the way of life for the company. And this needs to be disseminated into every decision, thought, action, product or service that is put in front of the consumer.
The brand thus is this essence that is verbally translated through taglines and messaging; visually through the logo and fonts and experientially through imagery and story. But in light of COVID-19, has what makes a brand changed? At its core, the answer is no. But, brands do need to look at themselves and make sure they are connecting with the new wants, needs and behaviors of their consumers. If a brand is going to be successful, it has to adapt to the changing landscape and be innovative in it’s approach to stay relevant to its consumer. A brand is only successful if it truly understands it’s target audience. Are you ready to potentially make a leap to stay connected to your audience?
What does your brand stand for?
Let’s start at the top. What does your brand stand for? If you know the answer, that’s great. If you can’t answer this immediately, that’s ok. But in either case, dig deeper. Think about where the country, and the world, is heading. Is what your brand stands for still relevant?
Is your brand in need of an update?
Whether you’re building a brand, creating a brand, or just checking in on the strength of your brand, given the effects the pandemic has had all businesses both large and small, now is the time to take action, and take a look at your brand, and make any changes you need to make to compete in the “new world.”
To get you started, think about the following. As you answer each question, think about if, and how, your answers will be relevant moving forward, or if there is an opportunity to make some adjustments to better connect with the new experiences consumers will demand, and compete moving forward.
- What is your vision?
- What are your goals?
- How do you define your company or product?
- Who is your target audience?
- What does your company or product do? And more importantly, do that is different or better than anyone you will compete with?
- What new norms or expectations will be considered tablestakes?
Once you are able to answer the above, the next step is to look at your brand make any adjustments.
- How does the above affect your brand story? And if you don’t have one, write one.
- Is there an impact on your vision statement?
- Is there an opportunity to modernize your positioning statement?
- Are any changes to your target audience(s) needed? What about your messaging for each?
And finally, if you do find yourself with some considerable changes to your brand, make sure to consider any potential impact or opportunity on the remainder of your brand elements, including:
- Brand mark
- Standards and style guides
- Marketing materials
While the above may seem pretty basic to some, true impact will only be achieved by really looking at, and thinking about your brand. While brands evolve and shift gradually, in general, significant events, like this pandemic, signify opportunities for innovative brands to further differentiate themselves from their competition. Whatever you decide to do, make sure any changes are carried throughout your brand consistently.
I leave you with a few parting thoughts. Some key trends for this year that must be considered with any branding initiative, and are sure to change the branding game, especially when we come out of this pandemic.
- People will pay more for a brand with a human side
- For a brand to “win” it will need an enhanced brand experiences (online and in the real world)
- Brands need greater logo variation–usability and visibility
- Corporate responsibility will continue to be of importance, as consumers, especially Millennials and Gen-Zers, prefer companies that “give back”