The JAM Blogs
Your Brand Pillars Are Your Go-To During Crisis
The entire world has been thrown for a loop due to the pandemic of 2020. No business, no family, no individual remains unaffected. We may not be in the same boat, but certainly, we are in the same seas.
As a marketing professional, it’s hard not to take note of what businesses and brands are doing during these unprecedented times. No marketing class on what to do during a global pandemic or marketing playbook on what to do if the world suddenly shuts down has been tested.
Everyone is processing these events differently, and their mindsets change day to day – sometimes, hour by hour. So what about that playbook?
This is where my passion for branding and messaging starts to ignite. You see, your brand is the embodiment of your culture and your voice. That voice, like an old friend, knows exactly what words to say when you’re feeling down, having a bad day, or being in the throes of a global crisis.
Of course, during times of trouble, the content of your brand message needs to change, but the foundation remains the same. This is where the brand pillars that you’ve been working on all along come into play. You have been working on those, right?
It’s time for you to be there for your customers in a way you’ve never had to before. Here’s my take on brand pillars and the reason they are crucial now and always.
Understanding Brand Pillars For Times of Trouble and Everyday
I have to give credit where credit is due. I was having one of those idea-bouncing, thought-provoking conversations with a colleague recently. (Shout out to Katie Cabanas from Cabanas Consulting.) As peers in the business, we were commiserating a little bit about our own marketing efforts.
Most people in our business find it more fulfilling to turn the limelight on others. So as time passes and our businesses evolve, it’s easy to ignore all of the principles we preach to our clients. Like any business, the marketing and communications we put out starts to feel a little uncomfortable. When faced with more challenging times (pandemic aside), what was slightly uncomfortable fosters a level of uncertainty that makes it difficult to engage with your clientele at all.
That’s exactly what I experienced when I went through a very recent personal loss. Do you know that feeling?
It was just as I was re-examining my own brand pillars that COVID-19 hit and it got me thinking how many brands might be experiencing a level of discomfort.
So, what are brand pillars anyway? And most importantly, why do they matter?
Brand pillars defined. What three words define your company’s intentions? What makes your business unique? What key phrase encapsulates your ethos, your why, your vision? This is your brand pillar. If you already have this defined, good job. If not, now is the time to step back and define them – before pulling the trigger on an irrelevant COVID-19 update email.
Why it matters. No one can predict an emergency. Brands, prior to 2020, wouldn’t have a plan in place for messaging during a pandemic. There are other emergencies though. They may not cause the world to shut down but are, nonetheless, disruptive. If you have a foundation in place, you (and your team) will feel more connected which will help you keep momentum in times when you need it most. Your brand foundation, or brand pillars, is the go-to message that pulls your marketing through like a Northstar, guiding you back to what makes your brand and it’sits voice distinguishable. This is the place you pivot to in good times, and especially when things go haywire.
Creating brand pillars. So, this pandemic could be renamed The Great Pause of 2020. For many, the pace of life has been slowed down dramatically. We no longer have social events to attend, sports obligations, or the opportunity to keep up with our rigorous regular schedules. We have time on our hands. So, given that and given the fact that the state of affairs has impacted our society in a heavy way, it is the perfect time to take a step back, reflect and work on creating or updating your brand foundation.
Continuity matters. We all hope for a swift end to the quarantine and a return to business as usual. No matter when that occurs, it’s important to remember that now that you’ve opened channels of communications, you need to keep the momentum to really reap the benefits of your work. Your audience is starting to pay attention. If you haven’t spent much time engaging with them, they might be just getting to know you.
Don’t stop now! Keep that consistency in the form of a steady flow of messaging coming. You’ll be a better business with a stronger brand on the other side.
With your brand pillars in place, you now have that you have a Northstar. You know where to go if you get lost or if the external environment poses big challenges. Your voice and message will be able to adjust but remain recognizable and, most importantly, authentic. During a time like this, reflection is a valuable exercise. If you need some help developing those brand pillars, I’m here to support you – now and always.