With every challenge comes new opportunity, especially in times of crisis.
With that said, you can curl up into a ball and let the world trample over your dreams or you can do something about it. Whether you have founded a company or are involved in making a company awesome as an employee, here are three things that every brand could do right now to beef up their brand.
Set up Virtual Meetings with Customers
Think you're alone in feeling alone? Not remotely. If you have a long-standing relationship with good customers, see if they're willing to talk with you over the phone or using a screen-share. Ask them specific questions like why they chose you over your competitors, what they think could be improved about your business, and if there are other things (besides COVID-19) they wish were better in their life. You might find they show new opportunities and that recurring patterns are going on within all their lives.
Do a Brand Audit
You've got a lot of time to yourself right now. Take this as a chance to look inward and see where the gaps are. Take a look at your marketing collateral, your social media feeds, your website, anything a customer might come into contact with. Are you doing the best you can to make them feel a cohesive, emotional connection with your company? Do you look like a company that is worth talking to and doing business with? Is it out of the question to think it could be improved?
Try New Digital Marketing Tactics
You will probably suck at this when you start, but what do you have to lose? You can't meet with anyone face-to-face, so you need to have a strong presence online. Create a newsletter using Mailchimp (it's free to start), create a YouTube Channel (also free), host a webinar using Google Hangout (also free). It's estimated that we are going to be distanced for the next three months, but you can close the gap by getting online in someway. Just pick one and go for it.
Let's get on the same page. By "boring," I mean logos that are less detailed. They don't have 10,000 colors, multiple elements, nor do they convey every detail of the company they represent. Truth be told, without being placed in a specific context, they are useless (unless you're a logo designer interested in analyzing them). It would seem that it is the elements that surround the logo that give the logo power, its longevity, and then structure would be last on the list.
Logos live on things. Lots of things. From app icons, billboards, collateral, even products. These logos are almost always accompanied by some form of messaging or other interactive piece. What's the point? The point is that the logo has little influence in making someone respect a company. Not nearly as much as the surrounding colors schemes, messaging, calls to action, or personality of the brand that it is encased within. If anything, the logo's job is to be there without becoming a blemish.
Apple, Nike, and Coca-Cola have spent decades (over a century for Coca-Cola) using the same shape as their logo. There might have been slight adjustments in color or structure over time, but nothing that would make you think the mark was completely new. There's a reason for this and it's to drill the mark into people's minds. Thankfully, they have logos that have been able to serve them regardless of the surrounding political climate, era, or trends that make other companies feel the need to change their logos. It's the same reason cartoon characters don't change their clothes, the artists are making it easy for you, the viewer, to be visually primed for their character. By keeping the logo the same for decades, you are more likely to let your guard down when you see that logo, assuming the company is one you cherish.
This is the last point because a logo it's the cherry on top of the branding sundae. If the rest of a company's marketing, positioning, service record, products, and messages are on point, they can get away with having a less-than-great logo. Having a good one just seems to add the little extra delight or, at the very least, give a potential customer one less thing to have an issue with. This is accomplished be keeping the mark consistently recognizable regardless of where it is placed.
That's what all great logos have in common, they are boring and do their job really well.
"Well, I'm my target market, so I should design a brand for myself."
I hear this a lot, especially from startup founders who think they have an amazing product that is going to solve world hunger and end war forever (I'm kidding, but you get the idea). However, despite the product being so amazing, they can't get sales, have a hard time pitching, and are constantly pivoting to the point of exhaustion. What's more, they all have shitty brands.
Why is that? Because going into business to build something for yourself is a surefire way to have an aimless brand, one that you cannot objectively validate. It's doomed from the start. Think about it, if you fully embody the exact persona of someone who could use your product, then they don't need you. They are able to solve this problem themselves. Good luck making them feel something other than contempt for you imposing yourself on their day-to-day.
I get it, you want to enjoy the work you do and have a brand that you can appreciate being a part of. You cannot find that focusing on yourself.
The key is to find overlap, a common thread between what your customers value and what you value. There is a reason they are listed in that order, as you, being an entrepreneur, can build a kickass business and brand whether you feel personally attached to it or not. You'll crush it because solving problems for other people is what you're best at, that is your job.
If you happen to have a passion for the brand and can align with it personally, all the better. But, you have to focus on a customer first or you have no business. Not only in the products you create, but the way you make them feel. That's where the branding magic is born.