As businesses across the country begin to reopen following slowdowns and shutdowns as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, what is your plan to propel your brand forward? Industries have been affected in different ways and have required different responses to all of the uncertainty. Consumers are watching brands very closely right now and are looking for reassurance in the messages they receive from those that they favor.
For many, these past few months have offered a laboratory for product, process and market development. This experimentation is allowing many businesses to open their doors with a fresh perspective and newly tested offerings. As you have learned how to conduct business differently, don't forget about the foundations of your brand. Use this 5-point checklist to improve the health of your brand and reopen your business in the best possible way:
- Relevancy - Is your service or product offering still relevant? Consumers have been forced to reevaluate needs and methods in which they transact business or receive services. In the post-COVID world, will your offerings still meet the needs of your customers in the same manner as before? If not, then focus on becoming customer centric by building a brand that integrates seamlessly into the evolving lives of your ideal customer. Remaining relevant means constantly earning and re-earning your position in the market place.
- Brand Trust - Have you pushed out consistent and reassuring communications to your customers during these confusing times? Have your customers heard you acknowledge their fears and offer a plan to survive and thrive? Brand trust is one of your most important competitive differentiators. Customers rate authenticity as the most important attribute of their favorite brands. It's up to you to build that trustworthy and dependable relationship with your customers through transparent and consistent messaging. Words matter.
- Positioning - Both relevancy and brand trust contribute directly to the positioning of your brand in the minds of consumers and how loyal they will be to you in the long-run. In the near-term, have you considered re-positioning your brand to show support to weary consumers? For example, if you are a luxury brand, focusing less on influence and stature and more on safety or quality could help you retain the loyalty of customers whose priorities have shifted during times of uncertainty.
- Digital Agility - Did you flip the switch and embrace the many digital tools available to help you still conduct business and market to your customers? The brands that will be most successful post-COVID are the ones that have leveraged data and digital platforms to transform their business. This can range anywhere from adding live chat to your website and automating your email marketing to running lead generation ads on social media and hosting webinars to educate your prospects. The more you meet your target customers where they already are, the more opportunity you have to win their business.
- Culture - Your company culture has been placed under a microscope during these challenging times. Have your decisions, policies and actions been consistent with your core values? Or has the stress and quickness of decision-making put a strain on your company pulse? Your people and your promise are what make or break a customer's experience. If you are giving mixed-signals internally, imagine how your customers are feeling. Take a breath and recommit to the culture you know you need to succeed.
My hope for you and your business is that you have used this time to rethink your branding and marketing strategies. Lessons learned during these unusual times should have you running more efficient, innovative and agile companies. You have been given the opportunity to reintroduce your new and improved brand to the masses. Use this checklist and make it count.