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3 keys to successfully adapting your brand during economic uncertainty

The world has changed for everyone, everywhere. Because of COVID-19 all of us are adapting to a new set of rules for how we connect with each other—we keep our distance, wear masks, hold meetings and social gatherings via Zoom and other platforms. What we say and communicate to others may not be much different, but how we communicate requires a whole new playbook.

The good news is that we humans are an adaptable species—give us eight weeks and we can form new habits for just about anything. A few weeks ago, having virtual meetings with the video “on” didn’t happen often. Now, we’re actually seeing people regularly with whom we’ve only spoken with for years. And we now see our parents or relatives virtually, which was unheard of just a few months ago. Zoom, a relatively new web conferencing option in the business world, has very effectively marketed their product to the masses during this era of social distancing, and in many cases made it available free of charge, to enable us all to stay safe yet connected. Zoom has deservedly become a household word.

Similarly, every brand needs to adapt to the changing needs of its users. But it is crucial that as you adapt your brand, you do so without losing sight of its core purpose. When this pandemic ends, those brands that have held true to their essence while adapting are the ones who will win. Everyone with brand management responsibility needs to do three things well, now:

1) Understand the evolving needs of your audience. Stay connected with them, ask what they need most short-term, then do your best to anticipate their needs in the mid-term when the world tries to go back to work with social distancing in place. Further, identify ways your product or service can be modified to help them in the mid- and long-term.

2) Maintain alignment with your brand purpose. As your audience’s needs change, you may need to change how you’re delivering your product or service, but don’t cut corners on quality or service or you’ll risk tarnishing your reputation.

3) Believe that it’s possible to come out the other side of this even stronger than you were. We can say this because we speak from experience. We’ve helped brands, both large and small, evolve and even thrive during some of the biggest economic downturns of the past twenty years. In 2001, we rebranded Cargill in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In 2007, we created a new visual identity system for 3M, the same year the financial markets’ dizzying drop sparked the Great Recession. That system helped 3M make their debut on Interbrand’s Top 100 Global Brands list in 2010.

We’ve learned that adapting your brand isn’t necessarily about changing your “why” or your “what.” It’s about changing your “how” so you show up to your customers and end users in a way that meets their evolving needs.

If you’re unsure what steps to take next, call or email us. We’ve done this before. We know what works. And we can help you.