Maximising your brand to support your business in challenging times
Exploring how to activate your brand appropriately and communicate effectively during the challenge of COVID-19, Emperor’s eighth and final event in the ‘Keeping communications out of lockdown’ series took place on Wednesday 29 April.
Hosted by Keith Taylor, Head of Brand at Emperor and Leanne Ledger, Senior Brand Strategist, the discussion centred on the importance of striking the balance between your brand being front of mind and adding value. Focusing on the last fifty days, the conversation was based around customer centricity, ensuring appropriate tone of voice, personality, communicating with integrity and authenticity, delivering key messages and potentially adapting the value proposition to maintain your brand’s success.
Brand in challenging times
We are living in an unprecedented environment. Nearly every industry has been affected in some way and we have seen huge value wiped off the markets. While we have all quickly adapted to new ways of working, our new normal has yet to reveal itself. There is still a huge amount of uncertainty and degree of risk in the short to medium-term. Business is unusual – and this will continue for the foreseeable future.
In these circumstances, it is understandable that some companies have ‘battened down the hatches’, reducing scope and delaying their work, often diminishing their discretionary spend. However, some have brought forward work, adjusting to new ways of working and acknowledging that budgets may shrink in the future. They have also used the new circumstances to address certain projects that may not have been a priority before.
For other businesses, reporting, brand and sustainability have proved to be some of the most ‘resilient’ priorities, due to legislative and governance deadlines, greater time to focus in the business and the fact that for many, stakeholder expectations haven’t diminished (for example, for employees, investors, customers).
Brand perception and a competitive edge
Coming out of this period, we expect that a focus on brand and employee experience will increase, as it is recognised that there is an opportunity to improve business practices, performance and perception. Ultimately, there is a competitive edge to be gained by coming out of the blocks quickly.
Brand perception has become very important. Ironically, despite the isolation measures, as individuals, we have never been more aligned. Through video calls and a greater need to connect with those outside of our households, we are discovering more about each other’s families, interior design preferences and day-to-day personal life. All of this is blurring the lines between our business brand and our personal brands, which is ever more important when you consider that sense of personal brand can unite, adapt, take control and demonstrate effective leadership.
How to consider your brand
1. Difference - how have you differentiated yourself from your peers?
2. Relevance - how are you relevant to the people you wish to talk to and do business with?
3. Authenticity - are you speaking with a voice that your business and people can deliver from their heart and with their experiences? Are you talking the talk and walking the walk?
The purpose of brand
Consider the clarity of your vision, mission and purpose relative to the changing environment. Where are you going? How will you get there? And why are you here?
Make sure your value proposition is clear for your customers’ benefit. Articulate your story through a considered brand narrative and focused communication through your key messages.
Remember that your values drive behaviour, your brand activator is how you drive engagement and ensure that you are substantiating your positions in your campaigns.
Six tips for communication for successful brand communications. Ask yourself:
1. Why are we communicating this, why are we doing it now and why would people want to hear from us?
2. Mind the gap - align your communications and actions.
3. Add value - what are you communicating? Be different, relevant and authentic.
4. Review and reset - is your brand fit for purpose?
5. Brand advocacy - are your people truly advocates for your business? Employees need trust and faith and should always conduct themselves in the right way for your business.
6. Go easy - don’t try too hard. Have faith in the good work you’ve done, the people you employee, and the relationships you created before all of this happened. That’s your brand equity. Don’t push too hard.
Tools of the trade
As part of the event, we presented a brand compass to use as a short exercise to measure your brand against, consisting of four quarters which make up your brand: perception, brand value, brand identity and brand positioning.
The second framework we discussed was Emperor’s corporate narrative - slightly wider than a pure brand proposition, the narrative takes into account the communications requirements of a mature business across brand, reporting, sustainability and employee experience.
If you would like to discuss either of these models we would love to spend a little time aligning your organisational experience and communications.