What makes brand strategy crucial in times of change?

Think of a brand that you feel strongly about. One that has really stood out over the past 12 months. For us, Marcus Rashford’s #EndChildPoverty comes to mind, which developed from him being a personal brand and role model into a non-profit organisation. Child poverty has long been an issue, but the coronavirus pandemic amplified the immense strain on families, revealing systemic failures. By Marcus campaigning and speaking out about the impact of child poverty, other people were able to identify with and get behind the campaign, not just celebrities and government figures, but families too.

You see, #EndChildPoverty is a great example of a new brand built on pure passion and belief during the most turbulent of times. The brand cleverly unites people on one central action: End Child Poverty Together, and that no household should go to bed hungry.

As with #EndChildPoverty, all impactful brands share one thing. They know exactly how to tap into the emotions of the people they wish to engage with so that they are favourable, credible, likeable and most importantly, valuable. They also understand the importance of timing.

Responding in the moment

Strong brands strategise, create, nurture, deliver and hone. They never stop being relevant. They realise that even in the most unsettling times, they must be authentic and have compelling ideas that their target audience can identify with. This can be seen by real-life storytelling echoed through every #EndChildPoverty brand touchpoint.

All impactful brands build loyal customers by cutting through the noise to act as beacons of trust. They have researched precisely what people want from them, know what their brand stands for, and what they must do to communicate their cause and value.

When should you consider a brand strategy?

Realistically, you should revisit your brand strategy regularly. After all, people are looking for an experience that meets them where they are, when it is convenient. Increasingly, they are also making purchasing decisions that meet with their ethical and social ideals. As such, they are actively seeking brands that speak to their values.

For some brands, though, it’s not just changing consumer behaviours and ideals that prompt the need for a new brand strategy. Brand strategy should always be considered whenever there is a change that affects how others feel about you. So, let’s explore a couple of these changes.

Change in positioning

The topic of conversation now, and hopefully for many years to come, is how we can all help reverse global warming before it is too late.

While global warming is not new, the attention it is receiving on a worldwide stage is. Understandably, businesses will need to do more to limit their impact, and those that align the entire business model and brand strategy on making a positive contribution will win.

Bulb is strong example of a brand that is constantly on the pulse when it comes to capturing the hearts and minds of the environmentally-conscious consumer. They set out to transform the energy industry by selling sustainable energy through simple pricing. With no ‘dirty energy’ or complex confusing tariffs, their brand strategy places them at the polar opposite of the energy market.

white bulb logo on pink and purple background with Bulb tag line

As an energy provider, Bulb listens to the environmental concerns of its consumers and gives them a direct opportunity to reduce their own carbon footprint by choosing affordable green energy. Having a consistently strong brand strategy and message that their ideal consumer can identify with, Bulb is the fastest-growing energy company, with a third of all new sign-ups coming from referrals.

Evolving services

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a global event that creates the need for a new brand strategy. It may be that you’ve outgrown your current branding or perhaps the pandemic has moved core aspects of your service online.

If this sounds like your situation, you’re not alone. However, the good news is that if you’re stuck with a brand that no longer serves you well, a change of identity and strategy informed by the needs, wants and wishes of the people you wish to attract will work wonders.

Take Non For Profit Social Enterprise, Lofty Heights CIC, as an example. Lofty Heights supports vulnerable people in Suffolk to live safely at home with its decluttering, homeward bound and house clearance services.

Initially, the branding was muddled and purely reflected their original service offering, which was to help people with their loft insulation needs. It was difficult to see them as decluttering specialists supporting vulnerable people to safely live at home.

previous Lofty Heights logo depicting a number of roofs above the name

While referring partners knew Lofty Heights for its decluttering and hospital discharge service, it was difficult for private paying clients to quickly identify how Lofty Heights may be able to help them.

The solution was to remove the visual representations of the lofts and roofs while keeping their name. The new brand needed to be more streamlined, decluttered and full of personality, with an identity and tagline that people could resonate with.

three mobile phones showing the Lofty Heights homepage, Services landing page and mobile menu
Closed trifold leaflet showing lofty heights' decluttering leaflet cover with a van illustration; and an opened version of the leaflets shows all of lofty heights' services
laptop with opened lofty heights services landing page showing a number of cards and illustrations of the key services
lofty heights business card cover with logo and back cover showing contact details and a broom illustration

Mergers and Acquisitions

While 2020 saw a slow-down in merger and acquisition activity, 2021 made up for it with a reported yearly high. With a fundamental change in ownership and realignment of services, revisiting brand strategy is essential.

A good example of a carefully considered brand strategy informing a re-brand is family-run North Essex estate agency, Concord Property. To grow their business locally, Concord merged with another estate agency business and in doing so added a fixed-fee online sale option to their service offering.

Due to their new geographical reach and additional online service, their old branding no longer held up against new competitors. While trusted, their current brand was outdated for the digital future of business.

However, it was important not to move too far away from their old brand. Following a closely defined strategy, it was agreed that the new brand had to visually connect with the old.

By identifying the key visual elements of their old brand identity, they built on their signature colour – a deep purple – and offset it with several vibrant contrasting accents.

two concord posters next to each other on a wall, advertising their rental and e-sales services
Concord business card leaning against a wall showing each side. Purple cover with yellow concord wordmark, white side with contact details

A custom-built website was introduced, enabling the consumer to browse and access detailed property information such as floor plans, EPC ratings, picture galleries and location maps. Immediately, this transformed Concord’s online experience, and most certainly helped them respond well to the restrictions and then surge of activity during the pandemic.  

Conord e-sales trifold leaflet slightly opened, showing an introduction to the service
open laptop showing the Concord e-sales landing page

How can a brand strategy help?

In times of change, brands need more than a campaign idea. While great storytelling may well grab the attention of the audience, your brand must have its foundation in a sound brand strategy, which means having a:

  • Clear understanding on how your brand is positioned and how it is different from the competition.
  • Deep understanding of exactly who your customers are what they now expect from you (cue the emphasis on ‘now’)
  • Identifiable message and purpose
  • Culture that aligns with all your stakeholders

Once you have achieved this, you can use this information to bring your brand to life through creativity, and a brand experience that consistently drives awareness and engagement. You may even become, like Marcus Rashford, a catalyst for change!

Looking for the right brand strategy?

Reach out to us today and you’ll be one step closer to creating a brand that’s always on the pulse.

About Franzi Scheithauer

Franzi is Creative Director at Studio Brand Up and specialises in brand strategy and identity design.