Keep Calm and Carry On is a cultural marque in its own right, but in these turbulent times, it’s still good advice for those charged with looking to build brands.
It’s tempting when your brand is trending to believe that the hard work is done. In point of fact, it may just be beginning.
Marketers talk about brands as vehicles for growth. But does that mean they should just keep growing – or is there a point when they reach critical mass?
Christopher Zook’s article on why companies with strong founders are more innovative, generate a greater number of patents, and more valuable patents at that, and are proactive in investing in and adapting their business model is a reminder to all of the very human qualities required to keep a company (and its brands) growing.
Recent conversations have served as a reminder that not all senior leaders regard brands as something they should be involved with. If you’re struggling to get your senior team to put important brand matters on the executive agenda, here’s some reminders by way of making the case for greater consideration.
Everything your brand does happens within a context. You can’t ignore that, nor should you. But here’s the irony – if you allow that wider context to drive how you manage your brand, then you risk losing control because the course you are steering is no longer yours.
I call it the goodness movement – the rush to appear responsible that has gripped global brands over recent years. Recognising that ethics, sustainability and CSR are now consideration factors in consumer purchasing (although we could debate the extent), brands are eager to show the world that they are doing what they can. But how much of what they are saying is actually driving how they operate and the decisions they make?
What have you got to say for yourself? How and when should a brand take a stand? And if you do, should you go hard or go soft? Talking is a critical part of brand behaviour.
Brands sent powerful messages through how they price. Price can be influential in portraying a brand as affordable and ‘on the side of the customer’, or exclusive and just for the few. It can generate responses ranging from the thrill of a bargain to the indignation of a price tag that seems far too steep.
Recently Budweiser has been copping flak for its continuing aggressive stance against craft beers. Social media reaction at least seems to be that this is an unfair fight and that the big corporate should not be competing in this way. I’m a long-time advocate of challenger brand strategy. I’m of the view that if you can goad the incumbent into a fight and portray your brand as the much smaller player with principles, then it’s game-on. But what if you’re on the other side of the counter? If you’re a major brand and you’re being hounded by an upstart smaller player, how can you respond without drawing flak or encouraging buyers to support the underdog-that-dared?