Evolving Your Brand

We were asked recently, by the principal of a well-established firm in a niche market, to articulate not just why his organization should undertake a brand evolution process but why now, with the economy still in upheaval and consumer and business sentiments clearly unsettled.

It’s a good question because it means getting real about the world and where the brand sits.

All the change and disruption make it difficult to see where any brand has landed. This has led many organizations to hunker down over social media plans and wait for the economy to stabilize. They’re busy with Facebook and Twitter, and their brands are in the back of their minds. They’ll get to it later. They know the world has changed and consumers’ faith in many brands is, to put it mildly, shaken. But it’s not clear what they should do. Some organizations are engaged in wishful thinking: when the storm has finally blown over they’ll raise their flag again and go on ‘as before’. Their brand was strong and trustworthy ‘before’ and they hope it’ll be able to settle down in much the same place. But the new, post-great recession world is markedly different. It’s fundamentally and unquestionably unlike the pre-crisis world. Brands will want to understand what their market’s new perceptions—of them and their industry—actually are because: • The post-recession consumer has a new posture: less interested in exclusivity and snobbishness, and more interested in ‘kindness and empathy’, ‘friendliness’, and ‘high quality’1 from the brands they deal with. Wow. The brand implications are enormous. • Business decision makers want to limit risks that aren’t necessary and build relationships with partners they can trust. As the recession stretches on, some describe seesawing between avoiding risk and worrying that being too conservative “can prove as dangerous as being reckless”2. What’s the best way to make sure a brand is relevant? So, the answer to ‘why and why now?’ is that businesses need, as perhaps never before, a rich and sophisticated understanding of the brands in their portfolios and what they mean to customers. When that understanding is deeply rooted in customer and client insights, the brand can communicate and behave in ways that are empathetic and appropriate. The brand can both avoid alienating its customers and build—or rebuild if necessary—trust and relevance. Would your brand benefit from a fresh look at the fundamentals?

Contributed by Lois Ingram CEO Ingram & Company and Strategic Partner, Bernhardt Fudyma Design Group

1The Power of the Post-Recession Consumer, Strategy + Business; Booz & Co., Spring 2011. 2Waiting for a Recovery, in You’re the Boss column by Jay Goltz, New York Times, August 2, 2011

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