Resetting your branding for uncertain times

And more certain success

With the world currently on a self-imposed slow down, there’s no better time to do some in-house brand cleanup.

In our last post, we went over pivoting your business mid-crisis (while setting it up for the future).

With that information in hand, you’re ready to take on your resetting brand. This process is about ensuring your business’s branding not only meets your current business goals but can also can meet your (and your customers’) needs in times of crisis.

Below is a framework for approaching your brand reset—what to tackle and what to avoid in order to solidify your branding foundation now and for the future.

What to tackle:

Know thyself (again). Your brand is your actual business, not the one you thought you started or wish it was. (Although it can be aspirational as long as your strategy is pointed in that direction). Ask yourself:

  • Does it accurately represent the essence of who you are and what you’re trying to become? Does it reflect your current business structure? How about your business’s spirit (established by your leadership’s and team’s approach to the work)?
  • How nimble are your existing brand guidelines when an opportunity (or a crisis) demands more flexibility from them (for remote teams, fast-paced communications, limited approval timelines, etc.)? How can you introduce this flexibility without sacrificing brand standards?
  • Can you give a 30-second elevator speech about how your brand uniquely helps your customers without resorting to industry or marketing jargon that don’t really mean anything? (Remember, everyone is “creative,” “strategic,” “motivated,” “passionate,” “innovative,” and “experienced,” so what else do you offer?)

Know your audience. Your audience is who currently or could do business with you, as well as who influences those people. Ask yourself:

  • Who is buying your product/service? Who else could be?
  • Who influences the people that buy your product/service? Where can you connect with them?
  • What additional pain points do your target audiences have that you could be solving?

Keeping in mind “everyone” is not a target audience, make three lists of 2-4 primary audiences for these (existing customers, potential customers, and influencers) to ensure your plan stays focused and manageable.

Know your goals. Your goals set your business strategy, including what branding, messaging, and tone will work best. Ask yourself:

  • Are you looking to increase sales? Take over a new market? Expand to a new location?
  • What are your short-term goals (for this year and/or current crisis) and your long-term goals (within the next five years)?

Keep the two lists manageable—between 2-5 for each—and you’ll have a clear set of marching orders around which your marketing plan can rally.

What to avoid:

Big decisions. When you start looking at your brand closer, it’s easy to want to make big changes now. A desire for instant gratification is understandable, but not advised.  Rushing the process often results in rendering your future efforts less effective.

Sure, that name change or a shiny new logo could end up being perfect. On the other hand, they could be completely off target once you’ve had time to take a realistic and pragmatic look at your goals and brand, leaving you not only with wasted time and money, but a weakened brand.

Never underestimate the importance of a little time, research and analysis.

Pressure. Every SWAG idea, advertising opportunity, and sponsorship placement seems great at first glance for getting your brand out into the world. (And they all, of course, have to be taken advantage of right now, right?)

Don’t let salespeople, fundraisers, business associates, or even perceived time constraints force your hand. Meeting your own goals for the future is far more important than letting someone else pressure you into helping them meet theirs.

Once you have your clear and smoothly running plan in place, you’ll know which opportunities make the most sense for your brand.

Big spending. Every dollar you spend throwing money at an aimless strategy is one you can’t invest on a targeted one.

Save your budget for strategies that truly capture the bigger opportunities that may only become clear once you’ve worked through your strategic plan. If you’re running low on business cards, restock them—but maybe also look into doing a limited run or finding a less expensive option. On the other hand, consider holding off on ordering a new brochure or redesigning your website until your plan is complete.

START ALIGNING YOUR BRAND WITH YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS STRATEGY.
DOWNLOAD OUR “4-STEP BRAND RESET GUIDE”