Attitudes about business are clearly at a low point. Never before in the history of communications has there been a greater need, and greater opportunity, for companies to take more control of their communications.
Ironically, so many companies are opting for ostrich-like behavior in the mistaken belief that no news is good news. In today’s environment absence makes your brand grow weaker. Silence means that others (i.e., your competition) will speak for you. They’ll position you to their advantage, they’ll take over your voice, and your customers’ business.
There never has been a better time for companies to rethink their positioning, their brand platform. From there they can outline the steps to emerge from their cone of silence.
There’s tremendous opportunity to start fresh. Evaluate the truisms that have worked in the past. Consider them in the light of today’s environment. Refocus.
Most importantly, consider the authenticity of your communications. Can you be trusted? Do you offer value?
Make no false promises.
While no obvious one-stop solution exists for the current recession, marketers do have an opportunity to successfully tap into consumers’ zeitgeist.
Gone are the days of flash, glitz and punching monkeys. Consumers today value sustainability, social responsibility and fiscal prudence. If marketers can align with consumers, they can come out of the recession with a more loyal audience than they went in with.
What message can build brand equity during this economic downturn? Economic, social, and particularly environmental responsibility. There is a call-to-action for brands to lead the charge in finding solutions for climate change. Consumers need to know their brands are working towards a common goal.
It’s not an easy time for a brand; consumers are more educated and more demanding than ever. They stand behind brands that make them feel conscious and informed. A recent Havas Media study by IPSOS found that 79% of consumers said they would rather buy from companies doing their best to reduce their impact on the environment.
And 89% are likely to buy more “green” goods in the next 12 months, with a third willing to pay a premium for those goods. While it’s not an easy time, the returns are high. A bond driving a customer to pay a premium for a similar good during an economic crisis is a bond worth establishing.
Resorting to sustainable claims isn’t enough for a brand on its own. The Millennium Generation is particularly vigilant about weak or unfounded responsibility and sustainability claims. A Hartman study found that “consumers are thinking much more broadly than marketers about what words like ‘organic’, ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ mean. They use more positive words to describe these products, like hope, connection, simple living, authenticity, and control.”
The first step in establishing this “connection” and “hope” is to create an authentic story. And if you don’t have a sustainable message to tell today, start establishing trust through other channels while working towards sustainability.
Something to consider as you build up that ‘authentic’ impression of exactly what your firm stands for.