How’s your brand doing?

A temperature check on your communications and marketing 

While some parts of the world are lifting restrictions, others are still struggling with the pandemic. As we continue to operate amid this prolonged uncertainty, one of the biggest challenges for brands is to remain true yet adaptable with its messaging. 

If there’s one question you should be regularly asking, it’s this: “What kind of message should our brand be projecting at this point in time?”

There is no cookie-cutter answer to that question, but we have some suggestions on how you can get there. 

1) Understanding your audience, and more

Do you know your audience as well as you should? 

More than any other part of a business, communications and marketing professionals act as the “listening function”. Brands are increasingly investing in audience research and mapping, to uncover behavioural insights, cultural truths - and even how they are responding to content and call-to-actions at any given point in their journey.

Why is this important? With enriched insights, we can hyper-localise content and be more effective with audience engagement and call-to-actions. That, in turn, drives conversions.

As a result of our recent collaboration with LinkedIn Learning to better understand their audience in the Asia Pacific, we helped to co-create a comprehensive channel and audience guide that has, according to our client, “become the basis for much of [their] campaign insights and media investments.” 

Actionable insights about your target audience, married with data about current cultural trends and developments relevant to your industry, can serve as a very powerful tool. Not just for communications and marketing, but in presenting new business opportunities in these times of uncertainty.

Photo by Kate Trifo on Unsplash

2) Differentiation = Innovation + Purpose

In times of protracted crisis, it’s useful to take a step back and reassess your brand’s unique value proposition to your audience. How are you addressing real needs? Customer trends and expectations are constantly evolving and emerging. How does your brand adapt and innovate, whilst staying true to your brand purpose? 

Consider the following observations from recent studies: according to Deloitte, purpose-driven companies are uniquely positioned to navigate unprecedented change, whereas McKinsey found that companies that invest in innovation amidst crises have historically proven to outperform their peers during recovery. 

In short, don’t reserve your best efforts for a post-pandemic environment. The time to act is now.

Take ZALORA as an example. As millions of new consumers across Southeast Asia turned to online shopping amid the pandemic, ZALORA zeroed in on a need to help brands and businesses fast-track their digital entry into the region.

Tapping on the data and fulfilment innovations it has built over the years, ZALORA pivoted towards offering B2B platform services -- from TRENDER data solution service to One Stock Solution ‘fulfilment-as-a service’ -- all rooted in its deep understanding of Southeast Asian consumers and logistical landscape.

3) Getting adept at adapting

Not to be an alarmist, but it’s safe to say that we shouldn’t be expecting a return to normalcy as we know it. Instead, seize the momentum for change. We may not be able to control the pace of change, but what we can do is to fine-tune our communications and marketing efforts to navigate the change effectively and take advantage of new opportunities.

Many companies have accelerated their digital transformation and proactively placed digital at the heart of their communications and marketing strategies. But this is the bare minimum adaptation. With virtually everything and everyone going digital, many are now inadvertently grappling with content oversaturation and screen fatigue. 

Brands must constantly reassess and reimagine their content, design, audience profiles and the interactions between these factors. Moreover, with physical spaces opening up, there will be a need to reconcile both digital and in-person experiences.

The future cannot simply be an extension of the past, and the present cannot be satisfied with itself. In the words of Amit Zavery, Vice President, General Manager and Head of Platform at Google Cloud, companies must “think of digital transformation less as a technology project to be finished than as a state of perpetual agility, always ready to evolve for whatever customers want” and whatever uncertain events that the world has to contend with next.

Photo by Tim Douglas from Pexels

Constant construction

Keeping your brand message true and adaptable is a perpetual endeavour, one that you’ll have to keep working on even beyond the pandemic. Figuring out what kind of message you should be projecting at a particular time thus requires you to always look earnestly within, while also being conscious of all that’s happening around you. 

This means that communicators and marketers have a critical opportunity now to be more active agents of change and future-builders, instead of mere brief-takers and storytellers. The insights we bring drive the clarity needed to propel concrete action for ensuring our brands’ future.

LAB360, a unit by award-winning independent consultancies RICE and AKIN, helps clients design, integrate, and innovate marketing and communications for business growth. If you would like to know how LAB360 makes the most out of the micro-moments that matter, talk to us here:

Written by Agung S. Ongko

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