20 Mar 2020
How to reinvent your brand
Vincent Roffers writes in AdWeek on how marketers can adjust their approaches during the pandemic.
Vincent Roffers, Executive Strategy Director, New York
We are journeying and will continue to journey through a sustained period of uncertainty. It will touch everything we love, from our families and friends to the brands we can't do without.
Luckily for our industry, we have the unstoppable force that is human creativity. and times of forced restraints are times when creativity thrives.
As signature brand moments are disrupted, businesses have both the opportunity and imperative to step back from complacency and rethink their institutions. Let's not forget that the best businesses today are reinventing themselves in six-month intervals to adapt to the increasing pace of disruption. No longer do they have a locked business strategy; they dive headfirst into change.
Let's learn from them, focusing not on what has been lost but on creating your brand's next signature moment - one that meets the world where it is, not where it's been. it should feel connected and responsive, positioning you as a lighthouse rising above the fog, illuminating the path forward for the rest. Let uncertainty help you better understand what your brand really means.
Assess and be realistic about what's worth reinventing in the moment and what is worth moving away from for the time being. Focus on reframing a single signature moment rather than trying to do it all.
Once you've prioritised that signature, you must unpack the actual value exchange to understand how you can deliver it in another, perhaps unexpected way. These value exchanges must be more than symbolic. They must be two-way and focused on real emotional value. For example, "I travel to SXSW and have a wonderful time enjoying Austin," can be reframed as "I go to SXSW to figure out the next chapter of my career while helping others figure out theirs." In uncertain times, being clear about the value you hold will help you find other channels and ways of delivering it rather than losing out on it entirely.
"Let's learn from them, focusing not on what has been lost but on creating your brand's next signature moment - one that meets the world where it is, not where it's been."
The next step is a creative one. Essentially, use your brand as inspiration and the real value exchange as a guide to reimagine your signature moment. How can we deliver the same value through a different means that still feels like us, while keeping in mind two absolutely critical elements: diversification and permission.
Crucial to the success of this exercise, as we are seeing play out real-time, is thinking about the diversity in your value exchange portfolio. Are your value exchanges diversified enough to withstand the unpredictability of disruption? Is your business over-indexed anywhere in terms of the type of value you deliver or the channel you deliver it through, especially in light of potential limits on historic channels? For example, you only meaningfully engage through digital interactions, or you are so closely associated with a recurring event that your brand simply couldn't survive if it never happened again.
Then you must think about permission. From the obvious to the more imaginative, what spaces can you play in, based on the value exchanges you are delivering today? Virgin is a great example. Richard Branson has used Virgin as a crucible to build a vastly different set of businesses based on a relatively singular way that they make you feel and the emotional value they impart, whether you're looking for healthcare or a trip to space.
What does this all actually add up to? A brand-led change in mindset.
This will be your secret sauce to thrive through uncertainty. Have a mindset that uses your brand to instinctually carve your path forward rather than codify where you've always been, one that leans into the emotional value exchanges that transcend communications or events.
Ensure your brand isn't a moment in time but happens over time, no matter what change may come.
First published in AdWeek.