Social isolation and travel restrictions have changed the lifestyles of most people. For this matter, consumption patterns and preferred products have also changed.
Only after three months of the lockdowns, bankruptcy attorneys were in demand with businesses trying to salvage assets and capitals. Most of these businesses had been selling products and services anchored on lifestyles that involved large gatherings like parties and sports events.
Learning from what we have seen this year, if your company has managed to stay afloat, it might be good to think about how you could improve your brand to further leverage your business. If you are opening a new business, think about how you could make yourself flexible, ready to accommodate different products depending on the evolving new norm.
Your brand is what distinguishes you from the rest. It doesn’t have to only refer to a single product or service. It is best anchored on your goal as a company to give you a unique identity. The easiest example is the luxury brand name, Hermes. It carries several products from bags to household pieces. The association when the brand is encountered on a belt or a plate is the same — it’s something luxurious, limited, and expensive.
How would you achieve similar stability in your brand so that no matter what product you carry, your image will be consistent?
Consider the trends, but be discriminating to keep your brand image.
Your brand could take advantage of the trends to expand its market, but it should not lose its identity. For example, your brand is anchored on an active lifestyle. With travel restrictions, people couldn’t enjoy the great outdoors for some time. You could think of products that would help people keep active inside their homes. These could be types of machinery for simple exercises. It would be detrimental to your brand if you suddenly start selling computer games that would dissuade people from being physically active.
In the fashion industry, luxury brands have been particular about their availability, for example. Since they want to market to the high-end market, they have to ensure that their brand would not be worn just by anyone. They want their customers to think that they are getting exclusive, limited edition items not available to the masses. When previously labeled as high-end luxurious brands started to release products that were cheaper to increase sales, their identity as a high-end brand dropped. Some brands have developed affordable lines to distinguish between limited items to mass-produced and cheaper ones.
In a volatile market, choose an identity you could maintain.
For years the market had been predictable. Trends come and go, but consumption patterns had been consistent. However, with unexpected factors like the Covid19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter global impact, the market was drastically reshaped.
As had been cited, brands that were anchored on the glamorous party lifestyle became awkward. They could not market the lifestyle in the face of a global crisis. The best way to avoid this kind of dilemma in the future is to ground your identity on universal values. Brands that promoted human dignity, peace, and similar intangible concepts had no problem adjusting their marketing strategy to a home-based market. Expressing love while isolated became the common theme for network providers. Before, it had been about expressing love in the middle of a bustling schedule.
Refrain from negative messaging.
There are different kinds of negative messaging. One very bad example had been an ad campaign of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They put up billboards that said ‘Save the Whales’ with a subheading ‘Lose the blubber. Go vegetarian.’ It was then accompanied by an image of a backside of a fat person in a bikini. It was directly insulting fat people, and could even be understood as associating fat people with whale cruelty. The ads eventually got taken down after people protested against it.
Another kind of negative messaging is criticizing opponents. It’s very easy to point out what competitors are doing wrong, but more difficult to show what you are doing right. Don’t define your brand in reference to others. This is very common in political ads but has also been used by companies from time to time although they don’t directly mention the name of their competitors. For example, some laundry soap would claim that they could produce whiter shirts than a certain Brand X. Instead of comparisons, show what you can do. This is what people will remember you by and not in relation to another brand.
The past months have reshaped the market because of the changing consumers’ priorities. Your brand’s ability to be flexible to accommodate different preferences while maintaining its core identity will determine its survival.