If you’re not revisiting your brand communication strategy, something is wrong.
There’s no playbook for the confluence of events that have changed lives and left an indelible mark on the country. Common threads lie in the search for voices, answers and action.
Those helming brands in this environment face the most critical challenge of their careers – as they attempt to navigate from a business and a brand reputation perspective. Nowhere is that responsibility greater than in communication.
It’s why now is time for brand leaders to initiate a systematic reset of their communication strategy – from internal to external to social. Revisit fundamental questions that brands should be able to quickly, easily, confidently and authentically answer. Questions they too often, even pre-COVID and the murder of George Floyd, cannot. Those voids, lack of clarity and inconsistency are magnified now.
A reset requires an honest, soul-searching return to basics. Start with foundational questions. Each is independent, but tied to the others.
What’s Your Story?
There’s nothing like the cauldron of crisis to reveal the underlying elements. Brands that have always had their story straight can move more instinctively as the world ebbs and flows – even when those ebbs and flows are tidal waves. Those who sell but don’t stand for anything lack an anchor. Ensure there’s a why behind the what. Fix what’s broken.
Are Employees Aligned?
Your story is only as real as employees' belief and understanding of it. Clarity, transparency and authenticity, buzzwords used to extol the virtues of great external communication, apply as strongly to internal stakeholders. If you fail with your teams, there is little doubt the message will face skepticism – if not much worse – from the outside.
Who Needs to Hear You?
Appraising the communication mix should be another short-term imperative. The levers being pulled pre-pandemic are not necessarily the ones to prioritize today.
Consider the resources being spent on engaging loyal customers and advocates versus customer acquisition. Who else needs to hear from your brand and why? Partners, suppliers, affiliated and sponsored organizations? Speak to the audiences that matter most. Brand positioning should serve as a compass.
Where are You Showing Up?
Similar to the who, the where deserves a thorough re-examination. There is a time and place for promotional messaging, influencer activations and calculated risks on emerging platforms and channels. Recent events don’t demand an automatic halt, but they dictate a thoughtful and more discerning review and evaluation. Think about the channel, audience and message – and whether it aligns with your stated values and focus. Adjust accordingly and do so with conviction.
How are You Getting it Done?
Managing P&L, addressing supply chain issues, managing the cadence of retail openings...there are myriad concerns for brand leaders. Communication sometimes takes a back seat. It can’t now. However, brands can feel handcuffed without external support. In addition, they may lack the perspective to identify what is needed. External resources can provide invaluable perspective and agility. It’s hard to get a true reflection when you’re the only one looking in the mirror.
Now is the time for a hard, honest and comprehensive look, and it should happen fast.
Stephen Bonsignore is founder and owner of SDB Communications