• Stephen Murphy

Restarting Your (Post-Covid) Brand

Updated: Jun 2


Get ready to start up your brand

Many businesses in Ireland, Europe and the US are still closed or running at a low percentage of capacity. As the vaccines are rapidly rolling out, the day when our economy will be fully back up and running is getting closer.


If you’re one of those people with responsibility for brand development, this gives you a unique opportunity to assess your brand. Before Covid, one of our favourite complaints was - “I only ever seem to have time to work in my business, not on my business.”

Well, guess what? You have that time now. In fact, your brand will need all the help it can get to be ready for the new working environment. Your communication and brand image will need to be clearer, stronger and more consistent than ever before.

So what can you do during the last days of lock-down to re-fire your brand? It doesn’t matter whether your brand is a product, a service or your company itself; the principles remain the same. The first thing you need is a detailed health check.


1. Evaluate Your Brand — The best way to do this is through an independent brand audit. Yes, you can perform a self-audit, but we tend to be a little easier on ourselves and it can be hard to see the wood from the trees when you're inside the tent (pardon the mixed metaphors). As the vaccines roll out and restrictions are lifted it will become easier to hire a professional brand agency and have them conduct a comprehensive onsite project for you.

Frog looking at itself in mirrie
Assessing your brand takes brutal objectivity


A Brand Audit is an objective investigation into an organisations brand, brand management and marketing effectiveness. It answers the following two questions:


1. Where are we now? and 2.Why are we here?


This audit needs to start with your figures — sales performance and profitability. What were the patterns before the lock-down? Arrow up or arrow down? Numbers don’t lie and are the best indicator of what you need to do next.


So, what other aspects of your brand should you examine? Well, your brand is your reputation — it’s what your audience think and feel about you in their gut. It’s important to consider each element you use to develop your identity and image. These elements are commonly known as your ‘marketing touchpoints’. They include things like your packaging, website, apps, logo, catalogues, annual reports, commercials, digital marketing, customer care, etc. The key is to assess how your audience experiences you.


Is your messaging clear, strong and consistent? Are your customers delighted with you? Do they know what you stand for? Are you meaningfully different from your competitors? If not, you need to fix this. You may not have the answers right now, and if you don’t, it can be a simple as asking your customers. Because people have more time on their hands now, this is the time to send out a short customer experience survey. Remember — Your brand is not what you say it is; it’s what your audience says it is.

Don’t forget to look at your competitors also. What kind of message are they sending out? What do they stand for? How do they try to differentiate themselves? You can learn a lot by looking at their websites, their social media or googling any recent news about them.


When you’ve evaluated your brand, you can now look to the future.


2. Decide your position — where you want to be

This has to do with the positioning of your brand. Positioning is the unique place you occupy in the mind of your audience. Are you premium? Economy? Exclusive? The only? Niche? etc. You may already have a defined position in the market, but this is a good time to decide whether you’re on track or do you need to alter your course. Draft your own positioning statement and be as specific and distinct as you can. If you could substitute your competitors' name in, start again. It needs to differentiate you in a way that matters to your competitors.


chess board
The right positioning is crucial for your brand

To get started, you can use the following statement template:

For (target audience)……………………………………………………………………………….., (Brand name) ………………………………………is the only (differentiator)………………………………..……………………………………among all (competitive sector) ……………………………………………………because(reasons) …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Having established your ultimate and unique position, you can now determine the kind of strategy you will need to pursue.

3. Draft Your Brand Plan


A well-conceived brand plan is the roadmap to success

You know where you are now. You know where you want to be in the future. It’s time you decided the route you need to take. What key things do you need to do to get your brand to where you want it to be? Will you have to extend your range? Do you need to launch into new markets? Should you change your route to market? Would it be better to acquire a competitor’s brand? Do you need to clarify your message? Remember, this is ‘strategy’, the major things you need to do to shape your future brand. This kind of planning is for the next 3 years and beyond; it shouldn’t change every year.

4. Fine-tune Your Marketing Plan

The business environment we return to is likely very different from the one that effectively closed down in March of 2020. Things will not be the same. But it would help if you now had greater clarity on what you want to do with your brand. That will likely involve updating the marketing plan you already have. If so, now is the time to do that.

5. Execute, Execute, Execute


Your plan is no good unless you fire it up!

You would not believe the number of times we’ve seen companies create great well-conceived, evidence-based brand plans and fail to put them into operation. Whether it’s fear of failure, lethargy, new management or something else, it happens. Opportunity is wasted as well as time and investment. Don’t let this be you. If the plan is good and stands up to scrutiny, put it into operation. Now.

Conclusion

Nobody on this planet has ever experienced a situation like the Covid 19 shut-down, so there’s no rule book to follow. We’ve simply no visibility on what the future holds for business. The 2008 crash is possibly the most recent downturn similar to what’s to come, but we just don’t know. History tells us the companies that maintain or increase their brand activity during a downturn are most likely to survive intact and excel when conditions return to normal. Likewise, brands that understand their audience fully and who appeal to their requirements best will be the ones most likely to succeed. If ever there was a time in our lifetimes to work on our brands, now it that time.


If you're still reading, now is the time to stop and go to work on your brand!


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