We live in uncertain times. Life can no longer be treated as a game of chess, even if you can think twenty moves ahead. The entire dynamic has been turned over its head. Today, it is no longer the paucity of information that causes uncertainty. In fact, it is quite the opposite. There is so much information overload we have to contend with that it is practically impossible to predict which data point will throw a spanner in the works. And yes, there are still pieces of the puzzle that continue to evade us no matter what. So how does one go about the business of branding in such turbulent times?
Unfortunately, today’s companies get so overwhelmed and caught in the chaos that they tend to make decisions on impulse leading to delayed and inappropriate action and ultimately missed opportunities. In all this confusion, the brand essence gets lost and companies adopt a reactive mode to tackle problems. At best, this leads to temporary relief, but ends up causing more harm than good in the longer run. Brands become defensive, refusing to look at new ideas and fresh perspectives, and instead find themselves fighting for survival constantly. In the end, the brand suffers irreversible damage and gets lost in the marketplace.
The first thing to keep in mind is to know that everyone is subjected to the same reality. The uncertainty affects all. But the brands that can deal better with the change are the ones that will survive. There is no doubt that the future cannot be predicted (we all saw how the Mayan prophecy turned out). So the better approach is to control what we can and that is the brand. When I say we control the brand, I mean we make an effort to manage the brand perceptions in the market. For this, the management needs to pay attention to the relevant changes with respect to all the players that affect the brand.
Most importantly, management should never lose sight of what the brand stands for. While the brand may manifest itself in the market according to nature of the customers and competition, it should also hold its core steady. In this way, even though there may be chaos around, the brand identity remains constant. It becomes the one thing that management can readily turn to for drawing inspiration and can also serve as a guiding force during times of major changes. All in all, the wave of uncertainty is one that will never subside. It only behooves companies to remain strong, steadfast and surefooted in the most violent of storms.
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