MSPC content director Amy Goran explores how the global pandemic has forced organizations to rethink aspects of their business—and why brand identity should be one of them.
I’m just going to come out with it: I’m not a huge Bob Dylan fan. My fellow Minnesotans can tar and feather me in the public square later. But he did get one thing right: The times they are a-changin’.
All joking aside, this pandemic has reshaped the world and all of us along with it. The silver lining here is that it’s given us all time to pause and reflect on who we are, what we want and what we want our place to be in this new world.
And what is true for all of us as individuals is true for brands as well.
Typically, rebranding is seen as a massive effort. And in most cases, it’s done reactively after a crisis or loss of consumer trust. But it can—and perhaps should—be proactive. A way to take stock, rally the team and, most importantly,prepare changing consumer needs and long-lasting cultural shifts. So, if now is not the moment to rebrand, I don’t know what is.
Grow with the times.
Things are never going to go back to the way they were. Choosing not to adapt with the changing times is the branding equivalent of wearing acid-washed jeans well past the 90s. Eventually it will stand out—and not in the way you were hoping.
Fortunately, many of the cultural shifts we’ve seen open the door to creating even stronger connections with your consumers if you know how to show up in this moment. We’ve moved away from individualism and toward community. Months of social distancing makes us crave connection. Uncertainty and chaos have taught us to look for authenticity and transparency.
Now is the time to ask yourself if your brand is prepared to meet these needs for your consumer.
Create a community. Who are your people?
Remember parties? Those were fun. Social distancing may force us apart physically, it has brought us together in other ways. Consumers are seeking out communities where they can find them. Do you know who your brand’s community is? More importantly, what role do you want your brand to play in that community? How will you show up for your people?
Now is the time to develop or re-invigorate your brand community. A rebrand gives you the opportunity to do the research into what your consumer needs from you. By creating a clear identity around your brand that connects to your target community, you are able to bring people together in a real and long-lasting way.
Who are you, really?
Authenticity has been a buzzword for quite a while. But brands can no longer pay lip service to this value. Consumers are smarter and wary of any veneer. Having a truly authentic brand can make or break your connection to your consumers.
The trouble is, having your brand show up in a truly authentic way can be scary. But the payoff is worth it. Conducting a rebrand based in robust data and research can help smooth the road toward transparency. This process can help you identify what your brand is and—importantly—what it is not. True authenticity means accepting that your brand cannot be everything to everyone. Narrowing your focus allows you to communicate effectively and strengthen your message by sticking to what you know and your brand’s sphere of influence.
Brand is content and content is brand.
Millennial attitudes had been shifting toward brand purpose and away from products long before the COVID-19 pandemic (side note: this fact is just as true for B2B marketing as it is for B2C). But now that shift is complete. Being able to tell your story in an engaging and memorable way is now more important than how you describe your products and services.
A crucial part of your rebranding strategy is planning your content in a new era of storytelling. As I mentioned, community and connection are crucial. For that reason, considerations need to be made for how to invest in social media, video and audio channels. Whose voices should you highlight? What kind of conversations will you have? What stories do you tell? A strong rebrand process will lay out all the answers.
How to get it done.
No one knows your brand as well as your marketing team. They live and breathe it every day. The first step to a successful rebranding is to expand that knowledge through data and measurement. Take an objective look at who your customer is and how they engage with your brand.
Speaking of objective, now is the time to bring in some external partners. Your rebrand efforts can benefit from an outside perspective if you want to take an honest and effective look at your brand. They can also be a reliable third party for stakeholder interviews and competitive benchmarking.
Finally, develop a content strategy. This is often the overlooked part of the rebranding process, but it is the all-important piece that will get you across the finish line. All the data, charts and presentations defining your brand won’t mean much if you can’t effectively translate that for your audience.
Now’s the time.
Silver linings abound during this time of upheaval. The signs of change are rarely as apparent as they are today, making it the perfect moment to put your brand one step ahead. While no one knows what lies ahead, there’s opportunity to build a strong foundation so you can face the future with a clear identity, strong point of view and lasting community.
Read next: Content Marketing vs. Advertising: What’s the Difference, Again?