A Fearless New World – how to become a brave brandMar 24, 2021
It's 2021, and everywhere you look, there's a brand marketing something in an already saturated space. So, the question is, how do brands stand out? Can brands and businesses continue to passively go with the flow, reacting to industry change only when it directly affects them? Or should they take a more proactive approach anticipating both their own needs and those of their customers?
These questions are more important as we continue to react to the effects of a global pandemic. With that in mind, the following strategies may help your brand navigate the challenging business climate we currently exist in.
Recognise change and adapt to it
Life’s only constant is change. That is why brands need to welcome it. The only way to grow is to adapt to different situations and experiences, taking the good along with the bad. A brand that did exceptionally well in this regard is the streaming behemoth Netflix. Having once been considered an online Blockbuster, in 2007, Netflix changed how people consume content forever by launching its online streaming service. By reinventing itself, Netflix has effectively become one of the most influential players in today's entertainment industry.
Unfortunately, for every success story like Netflix, there are examples of brands failing to adapt. Kodak was the market leader in photographic film throughout the 20th century. Despite selling cameras, Kodak made the majority of their revenue through film and post-processing sales. As the digital revolution began, Kodak failed to recognise technology's threat to its core business operations. By the time they jumped on board the digital revolution, it was already too late, and by 2013 Kodak filed for bankruptcy. Ironically Kodak developed the first digital camera in 1975 but failed to release it as they believed it would damage their printing business. Alas, Kodak being bound to and blinded by its past, could not see the changing world around them. They now serve as a cautionary tale for other brands about the importance of change and the dangers of not being willing to adapt to it.
Besides adapting business strategies, there are other ways to be bold, and what should not be underestimated is the power of storytelling. Take Nike, for example. Their primary focus has always been to sell shoes, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. Despite not making any profound promises with their products, Nike has been able to tell a story not only marked by health and sportsmanship but also by the possibility of achieving greatness. Nike simply instructs the consumer to 'Just Do It' with no secret recipe or ticket to success. From the inception of the 'Just Do It' campaign back in the 80s, Nike has used this narrative to market to consumers and many top-tier athletes. Storytelling allows companies to deliver a message authentically to their audiences, differentiate them in their sphere and change consumer perceptions.
Where businesses and brands are concerned, taking risks with ideas might just be the perfect place to start being fearless. After all, the only way you'll know that they've worked is literally by testing out the waters. In 2019, Burger King pulled a marketing move that literally no-one could have foreseen, not even the mighty golden arches themselves. Amid a McDonald's fundraising campaign to raise money for Children with Cancer, Burger King stopped selling Whopper burgers for a whole day so that McDonald's could increase Big Mac sales for their charitable cause. The move resonated well with people and proved that taking a massive risk like this is not only a memorable marketing strategy but also the grandest of gestures that not even the toughest of competition could refuse to appreciate.
This move represented outliers of risk-taking as most brands can be quite risk averse. Brands are reluctant to propose risky new ideas and instead focus on safer opportunities or stick with proven strategies. Companies should instead be taking calculated risks. While there is a risk of financial loss or damage to your reputation, it can be the best thing to do for your brand if it succeeds. In 2011, Mark Zuckerberg said, "The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that's changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks". To run a successfully fearless brand, you need to break the risk-aversion shackles and embrace risk in all your strategies.
Being a fearless brand involves more than just adopting a proactive approach to future business needs. It's about embracing change and taking risks but, most importantly, doing so while allowing your brand's purpose to be your guiding light. Breaking the chains of convention and marching to the beat of your own drum is ultimately what's going to enable your brand to be fearless in this brave new world.