One of the many observations noted in these strange and unprecedented times is how quickly we can all adapt in an emergency.
As a result of this particular emergency most businesses in IT, finance and HR provisions have spun into meltdown to catch-up with the concept of lockdown while we moved ourselves into an almost entirely digital space.
Our customers and employees are now all better connected than ever before, yet they have never been so isolated or remote to any real tangible outcomes. Secure in our virtual bunkers, staff and consumers alike are looking for any answer that offers intelligence, insight or empathy.
Step aside for the 4th emergency professional service, Brand Communications.
Proactive budgets can be the first to get slashed in changeable financial situations, however, once the reactive piece is complete, provision to deliver your message now and, perhaps more importantly, in the future is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessity.
If you need to be reminded of how receptive the public is to concise and logical messaging, just look at the reaction the other week to the government changing their messaging from ‘stay at home’ to ‘stay alert’.
Everyone has woken up to realise how important is to be seen, understood and believed as individuals and collectives. From an audience perspective we’re craving information inside and outside of work and in a world where we can no longer touch, we’re looking at everything through a digital filter.
With huge swathes of our workforce working distantly or remotely – if at all – the only real thing that holds them together is understanding what they belong to, how and why.
So where do you start crisis proofing your brand?
Well, as Walter Landor once said, ‘Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.’
So, let’s start there.
Brand Communications is all about telling a story. Not just any story – your unique story. Generating and perpetuating your myth that will engage, endorse and activate.
This isn’t just about good looks, it’s the blueprint for your business and a guide to being heard. In an ever-fluctuating situation, done well, it is one of the most real assets you can own.
You can’t prepare for what you can’t see but you can prepare for what you might, and without knowing who you are, you can’t prepare at all.
It goes without saying that brands are based on what you do or sell pulled together with research and strategic insight. Those two aspects are what define your unique proposition. However, there is a check list of must-haves that formulate that information into a complete Brand Communications piece for now and the future…
Here’s our top 6:
Clarify your (new) mission and vision
This is your purpose and ambition: why you are here and where are you going – medium to long term. Most businesses have or will need to adapt their offering and plans, and it’s vital that everyone understands and aspires to what these are.
Define your core values
So everyone is clear how to do what you do, from an internal and external perspective. From making decisions to interacting with colleagues. Behaviours can vary and are guided by values, and in a crisis they will bond and include.
Set short term goals
Time bound objectives can be managed and completed. People want to be part of a success story, but they need to know how and it needs to be practical.
Demonstrate present, accessible and insightful leadership
This is a battle of sorts. Leaders need to be seen and they need to be relevant. Create regular and structured forums to share information, inspire and unite. People are more likely to worry if they are given random bouts information and if their leader is aloof or mysterious. Include opinion where you can but make clear decisions and deliver them with assurance and empathy.
Define your communication pillars
Have a clear understanding of and format for what you want to say and what you need to say. Both proactive: brand building and selling; and reactive: crisis management and risk minimising / avoidance.
Your brand needs to be appropriate and useful to deliver messages within a digital interface. This is more than a cosmetic refurb, it’s updating your look to really belong within this space. Understand and utilise platforms, ensure positive user experience and create and provide content that engages on the right level at the right time.