Wood blocks lined up to spell the words change and chance together.

Reposition your brand. Make it more human.

“Close scrutiny will show that most’ crisis situations’ are opportunities to either advance or stay where you are.” Maxwell Maltz

The coronavirus spread around the globe is forcing most of us to experience a new normal driven by social distancing. Social distancing is having a significant impact on the economy, and many business owners spend countless nights pondering how to keep their business afloat in light of the crisis. And, although it is undeniable that many companies will close their doors, many more will survive and face a world full of new attitudes and beliefs.

The silver lining of the pandemic is the fact that now we have more time and are, generally, less busy about our lives. In other words, we have more time to think and make some significant progress in our lives. Isaac Newton made wondrous discoveries in Physics and Mathematics while escaping the ‘Great Plague’ of 1665–6 in England.

While most of us are unlikely to come up with theories that change science and the world as we know it, this crisis brings us an excellent opportunity to rethink how we want to position our brands.

So, here are five things you can do to make your brand stronger when life goes to a new-normal, and some resources to help you get there:

Revisit your WHY:

Often, we forget why we decided to start a business or the purpose our brands serve in the world. Purpose is permanent. How we deliver on your purpose has to adapt and change as circumstances change. Often, get caught up in everyday activities and forget about why the brand exists. And, when we forget our purpose, it is easy to lose focus.

I find it hard to believe that C.R. Smith created American Airlines with the intent to defy the laws of physics and squeeze as many bodies as possible in a small space and still call it ‘Amazing.’

Simon Sinek’s TED Talk about the Golden Circle is a great place to start. Simon Sinek also wrote two books about finding your Why: Start With Why and Find Your Why. It takes time and patience to follow the process, but it’s worth it.

Create a Story that Supports Your WHY:

Convincing people of anything is virtually impossible. Try to convince your uncle that he voted for the wrong guy in the last election. You can present all the evidence in the world and, chances are, he’s not going to see the world the way you do.

The same applies to our brands. It’s virtually impossible to convince anyone that we are different. Our only option is to consistently communicate our message so that those who think similarly feel compelled to engage with our brands. Positioning: the battle for your mind is an easy and entertaining way to read about the subject.

To create a story and message for your brand, I like the resources available at www.mystorybrand.com. Donald Miller has created a step by step process for those who don’t know much about storytelling. It is a tremendous help to find a clear message to support a brand.

Tell the Story Internally:

Those who deal directly with clients and customers most, such as customer service personnel, are often ill-informed of the overall positioning of the brand. But when all levels of the organization have access to the brand positioning, results can be outstanding.

As an example, Zappos knows that customers can buy shoes anywhere but would choose Zappos if they made customer service their main product. On June 11, in Zappos’ Las Vegas headquarters, Steven Weinstein spent almost 11 hours on the phone with one customer. To manage the feat, his peers brought him food and water after he took a quick bathroom break at the 2 ½ hour mark.

It is an excellent idea to develop a robust set of principles and directions for employees to follow across the organization. In the document, make sure you have:

  • Core Values and Principles
  • Tone and Voice
  • Mission and Vision
  • Brand Pitches
  • Brand Guidelines

Tell the Story Externally:

The first thing to do is to run an audit and make sure your website, collaterals, assets, materials, and templates communicate your story consistently to eliminate confusion in people’s minds. Second, revisit your SEO strategy and guarantee the right keywords used across all platforms. Finally, review all images, videos, blog posts, social media conversations, and other content.

The goal is to convey a consistent message to every single person in every single touchpoint.

Add Human Marketing to Your Mix:

Consumers do not trust brands. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, 81% of respondents said, ‘I must be able to trust the brand to do what is right,’ but only 34% said they ‘trust most of the brands they buy or use.’ Respondents also said 3 in 4 people respondents avoid advertising, and 63% of them trust influencers.

Advertising cannot change minds. It can only create an inclination to buy in those who already believe in your story. So, before you spend your hard-earned dollar on another digital ad, consider some Human Marketing actions first.

To get started, consider all the different ways you can help existing tribes of people who think like you do get even better. Then get out of the way. For example, Nike, during the World Cup in Brazil, did not run a single advertising campaign. Leading up to the competition, Nike sponsored soccer tournaments and events in various regions of the country with consumers as the main protagonist. As a result, the brand gained consumer engagement, influencer discussions, and earned media.

An excellent read to enrich the conversation this is ‘Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins.’

Luis Pires is the founder of Squared Brand + Marketing and dedicated to helping entrepreneurs create authentic and differentiated brands that matter.