Building your brand in a new world

One of my daily habits is reading Seth Godin’s blog. Writing daily is a habit he started years ago and he has a wonderful way with words, deconstructing complex frameworks into simple analogies. One of his latest blogs, “Bridges and tunnels”, really stood out for me. Here’s why…

“… tunnels allow all sorts of productivity without calling attention to themselves or those that build them.”

We live in a new reality, a world with Covid-19 and one in which brands need to define their purpose clearly. Consumer and business consciousness is on the rise and brands are being forced to think deeply about the value that they offer to people who trust them. Building tunnels and not calling attention to changes you are making now (i.e. not shouting from the roof tops) might very well position you better for what the future has in store. You should still keep people in the loop with your high-level thinking, but significant change takes time and requires stepping stones to be placed into order to allow you to cross the river.

While the world has most certainly changed over the years, timelines over the last couple of months have been significantly compressed and the adoption of new models has had to be fast tracked. We have witnessed many brands globally adapting and making the most of the circumstances on their doorstep. Here are some examples of how CN&CO partners have adapted:

Easy WTF – For a week the EasyEquities team hosted a series of investment webinars for new and seasoned investors alike. You can catch all the conversations on Easy’s YouTube channels here.

Satrix – In 2000, Satrix launched the first ETF in South Africa, the Satrix Top 40. Now, in its 20th year, the company hosted the first virtual listing of an ETF on the JSE. Watch it here.

Brolink – Here’s a company that has invested heavily in technology over the past few years… a decision that has served it well in current times. Read more here.

Evalex – This talent assessment and development company has created an innovative virtual development platform that can help employment candidates access and interact with their leadership and psychometric assessment results. Find out more here.

Lombard – has recently launched the Lombard Connect platform. An easy, interactive and innovative platform that provides product-specific training across all its partner offerings. It also provides CPD articles, links and references for brokers to up-skill and keep up to date with the latest industry news. If you would like to sign-up, do so here.

CN&CO Events – Learning on the go, this team took its events online and launched itself into the virtual realm practically overnight.

Brands that are clear on their purpose and embrace the elements of the digital economy are better positioned for what lies ahead. One notable global shift has been in consumer buying, with more consumers showing loyalty to (and willing to pay extra for) environmentally friendly brands, which reinforces the need for businesses to increase their commitments to sustainable business practices. Businesses and brands that offer solutions to address these challenges in the broader community, like Imagined Earth, provide brands with a modern solution to help them connect with their customers through sustainability.

In 2017, Emily Esfahani Smith took to the TED stage and shared a talk titled “There is more to life than being happy”. As part of her talk she spoke about purpose being about what you give and the strength to serve others. We recently discussed this talk in our latest TED Circles get together and it reminded me of the importance of being open to helping others. During a time of crisis it can be easy to turn inward and only worry about yourself, but we need to remember that we each form part of a bigger ecosystem and are all interdependent. Brands that are working to better the broader community and are in tune with what is going on around them will, I believe, be far better equipped for our new reality.

I am fortunate to work with leading strategic thinkers who have taught (and continue to teach) me loads. A couple of weeks back I chatted to Carel Nolte, a mentor, friend, and CMO of EasyEquities, about lessons for dealing with and adapting to the impact COVID-19:

  • Trust your gut, fix if wrong and move on
  • You need lots of info – different viewpoints – this helps you make decisions. Read a lot, watch stuff, put yourself out there and don’t stick to a cocoon
  • Now is the time to collaborate, be abundant, look for win-win collaborations, share and learn
  • Now is not the time to build walls, be isolationist, or be fearful
  • Acknowledge we are all here, now, and in this together
  • Rob’s blog – “I wish someone had told me how to deal with life” also offers a key take away… you cannot control what happens in the world, you can control how you respond.

So, as many of us around the globe come to grips with our new reality, I urge us to remember the importance of people in our everyday lives. People are often at the heart of everything we do and while our attention is under high demand from the digital world, never forget the role that people play in building a brand. Here’s a blog from Josie Dougall that illustrates this in far better way than I ever could.

Never forget that people make a brand and that culture plays a vital role in helping a business to achieve its objectives. So keep your people close. Your brand will thank you.