Much of the discussion around COVID-19’s impact on commerce has focused on reactionary measures to brand survival. That is a necessary and sensible strategy—in the short term. However, companies that are using this unexpected economic earthquake as an opportunity to overhaul strategies, and look to the future in a proactive way, are much more likely to secure post-pandemic viability.
A consistent thread throughout our entire Deinvest to Reinvest Virtual Leadership Summit has been that smaller brands are showing more expedited agility than the “big guys.” Some of that nimbleness relates to the way small brands engage with their customers.
Jeriad Zoghby of Accenture Interactive articulated this point in the “Future of Your Brand” session of the summit, moderated by Dialogic Group’s Thom Blischok. “I think we’re going to see brands get from behind the pallets and actually have to engage consumers directly, which is long overdue. The role of the brand has to broaden dramatically. Not only as a ‘hands-on’ approach, or top of the funnel. [Companies] have to realize the brand experience has to be everywhere.”
One area business leaders must reassess when revamping their brand survival strategies is their core values. Panel member Chase Jarvis of the international online creative education platform CreativeLive opined that brands have traditionally been too self-serving. “It’s not a question of if you should change, it’s what you should change. Now is the opportunity to look at your brand strategy, your roadmap, and decide proactively what kind of company you want to be and the relationship you want to have with your consumers on the other side of this.”
Jarvis explained that increased differentiation, segmentation, depth, and richness will be key components for brands that truly aim to serve their consumers—and their communities. “Can you build a community? Because that’s increasingly a lens through which consumers will make choices,” he added.
Why Data Is Crucial for Informing the Customer Story
Data analysis and data interpretation are foundational for building the consumer experience. As this experience evolves, greater attention must be paid to the intricacies and nuances of the data in order to appropriately map to the customer story. In turn, brands can strategically focus on creative ideas that resonate with the consumer audience.
“We’re not talking about divorcing what drives brands from creative ideas but how those creative ideas are sourced and disseminated. The idea needs to originate based on the data,” noted Ben Winters, the managing director of client success for Ideoclick. “It’s incumbent on brands to directly interact with their consumers, and I think many of the ideas that will drive brands forward will come from looking at that data.”
Zoghby and Winters both agreed that brands need to start thinking about, and being comfortable with, putting creative in unexpected places (e.g. Product Detail Pages/PDPs)—and then relying on the data to inform future strategies.
“In digital, we should be testing everything. There’s no excuse for not testing. For anybody who is scared of putting creative in your PDPs, just test your way in. There’s no harm for the short term; just ensure you’re building your long-term brand story,” advised Zoghby.
No More Silos: Why Integration Among Teams is Vital
A significant challenge, for bigger brands in particular, is a siloed approach within organizations. Sales, marketing, operations, and product development teams work independently, resulting in organizational disconnect. Smaller brands may be able to be more agile in reinventing the way teams integrate, whereas bigger brands may continue to struggle. Even large, established brands that have enjoyed success for 20, 40, or 60 years need to address the detriments of siloed activities or risk “really getting smacked around,” as Jarvis put it.
Additionally, brands need to better integrate ecommerce into sales and marketing efforts. “The challenge is to [integrate] so that ecommerce channels aren’t merely a digital afterthought, where we’re refactoring assets and communication modes and models from traditional to digital. Digital now truly leads the way,” stated Winters.
Brand Survival Strategies Connect to Brand Mission
The pandemic’s impact will continue to reverberate for months; potentially years. All panel members agreed brand survival strategies depend on three critical attributes: a willingness to change, the speed and agility to do so, and an “all-in” approach to collaboration.
“I think so many people want to wait and see. But here, perfection is the enemy of good,” cautioned Jarvis. “In a world that favors speed, dynamism, a willingness to change—identify what you’re going to do differently, what you are going to stand for. There are a number of axes under which you could be different. Decide proactively what you’re going to do, and start on that journey yesterday.”
Tune in here to watch the experts discuss these brand survival strategies in the “Future of Your Brand” session video from our Virtual Summit.