I’m frightened I’ll discover that the civilization I know is an illusion. That everything will be erased. But I’m also frightened of the reverse: that if the fear vanishes, everything will stay as it was. – Paolo Giordana
It’s the moral duty of every entrepreneur to constantly look to the future. It’s an open door, and I would add that it’s important to know who you are, own it, prove it and then live it. This is the method we use to keep a brand’s essence sharp. Constantly playing the game, being acutely aware of what your strengths are and not being afraid to embrace and challenge your weaknesses.
In practice, it’s a bit more difficult. A lot of brands are the result (often unconsciously) of a passion. They’re based on the entrepreneur’s personal conviction that he or she is supplying a product that makes a difference, that adds value. But this conviction fades over time. The day-to-day humdrum, the focus on profit and growth can distance you from the authentic brand DNA and your focus on the future.
This is certainly true now that people, brands and organisations have to survive in the ‘new normal’. A normal that hasn’t been defined yet and can go in different directions. Do we choose safety over freedom or vice versa? And is the economy going to slam shut or spring wide open? It’s interesting to see what people prioritise and what they decide to drop.
During lockdown, the need for things like connection, solidarity, empathy, contemplation and small pleasures was once again important. Needs that all of us did everything we could to meet, through new propositions and strategies. In the coming months, we will once again see a shift in fundamental needs. Certainty, control, safety and smart cocooning will become more important drivers. It’s a matter of responding to these, but always based on the strength of the brand. Staying true to yourself is the trick. As long as the brand DNA is protected, it will remain intact. This solid foundation gives you the freedom to respond to change. Even if there’s another lockdown. Even if consumer and corporate habits continue to change.
It’s like being forced to restart a game after a player has overturned the board because he or she can’t stand losing. You have the same players and risks, but with new opportunities and challenges. The ‘new consumer’ needs certainty, safety and reasonable business, and that goes beyond the widely hailed ‘brand relevance’ and Sinek’s static why/how/what. It’s about feeling genuine conviction, sharing your reasoning and freeing your brand to be who you really are. That’s when the game becomes fun again and your passion is unleashed. The game that makes your eye light up like it did when you first started. Remember that?
Giving brands and organisations their freedom and strength back is what makes my eyes light up. It’s no coincidence that our pay-off and my personal mantra is ‘liberating brands’. We’re convinced that your brand has a place in this ‘new world’ both now and after the coronavirus pandemic. You’ll have more fun, more energy and more room to adapt to the next disruption. The board is set, the player who rolls the highest gets to start.
Bart van Wageningen