The notion of ‘business agility’ — the ability to quickly adjust business resources and assets in a way that enables your business to prepare for or react to shifting markets and global conditions has always been important — but the experience of COVID-19 and the past 12 + months have driven that point home relentlessly. As we enter into this next phase of ‘the new normal’ one thing is certain: the world and how we work is forever changed and will keep changing — building a brand that enables your business to respond is the new opportunity.
What’s required? The ability to adapt to changing market conditions, customer needs, and shifts in demand all while avoiding perceptions of being reactionary or haphazard. It’s the challenge of maintaining a steady focus on your company’s North Star while navigating an operational environment that may be in a state of flux. It’s the need to keep the sails full, and the boat moving forward while making the necessary changes to stay on track in real-time.
Brand as an Enabler of Business Agility
It is certainly true that the agile businesses of today owe a great deal of that ability to flex and pivot to underlying technologies and organizational structures, but it’s also true that a company’s brand and positioning in the marketplace is also a critical factor in enabling business agility. In our experience working with companies both big and small, we’ve uncovered some key factors that go into building a brand that supports the agile business.
Allow Your Brand To Aspire to More
No one has a magic crystal ball that can predict the future, but most companies do have a business plan and a roadmap that maps the trajectory of where they are today and where they aspire to be in the future. When working with our clients to develop a brand strategy and positioning, it’s our job is to help companies build a brand that is strategically focused and works in the present — but also allows for predicted future growth and unpredictable turns of events. This can be achieved through a disciplined process of understanding how the brand needs to support current sales, revenue development, and be elastic enough to still be relevant for future expansion.
Your brand’s personality is another important aspect of branding that’s often overlooked when planning for an unpredictable future. If your company is large, established, and predictable, that’s an important aspect of your brand’s personality. When it comes time to pivot, flex, or change, lean into the credibility of your size, strength, and track record as a proof point as to why it’s ok for the business to shift. Conversely, if you’re a scrappy startup, your brand’s personality should reflect that — and when you find yourself needing to pivot or adapt to new conditions, use your reputation and personality as an ‘agile upstart or challenger of the status quo’ to help make sense of change.
Trust and Permission To Change
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, brand building is ultimately about creating trust between your company and your customers. When it comes time for your business to make a sudden change — whether due to unforeseen competitive factors, global events, or simply to take advantage of new opportunities — the brand trust that you build with your customers today is what will give you permission to adapt down the road.
There are of course multiple other factors that make business agility possible, from its technical infrastructure and organizational structure, to how a company thinks about and manages change — but ultimately those must be supported by a strong, flexible, and trusted brand that permits you to change in the mind of your customers.
Emotive Brand is a brand strategy and design agency in Oakland, California.