We are passing through challenging times for businesses, brands, and consumers. Companies experience supply chain issues and face increasing energy costs due to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Consumers, on the other hand, face rising prices and increased cost of living because of these issues. Our own research in MCCP highlights that Irish consumer names cost of living, uncertainty of the future, and housing crisis as the top issues at a societal and individual level today in Ireland.
In the context of rising prices, consumers usually change their shopping behaviours by either reducing spend on non-food discretionary items or changing to lower-priced brands. This leaves brands with a significant challenge; how to protect their market share and thrive in these challenging times.
There is not always a single recipe we can give brands to help them thrive in these challenging times, but one of the musts for brands is to focus on building resilience through achieving customer support and being relevant to consumers’ emerging needs. However, building brand resilience is not an easy fix. It requires a transparent and consistent brand communication highlighting why and how a brand is relevant to the emerging needs of the consumers.
Brands that succeed in building trust with their consumers and remain resilient are the ones that are also successful in telling their brand story in a compelling and clear way to their target audience.
So what do these brands do better in their communication? Which mutual principles do we observe in their brand storytelling?
- These brands make it clearly explicit for their target audience what is in it for them. When brands communicate the “benefit” they offer to the consumers in a clear, relevant, and simple way, they are more successful in landing their message, connecting with consumers emotionally and gain loyalty (remaining resilient). One of the best examples of this principle is from Apple, when describing “iPhone 13” with the “Your new superpower” phrase. In this phrase, Apple communicates the benefit of the iPhone 13 to the consumers in a simple and clear way rather than listing the features of the new model.
- Another principle followed by brands that build resilience is having a relevant brand positioning that they can consistently communicate across different channels and platforms. A relevant positioning is important to bring clarity about the brand’s purpose and explain what the most important thing about the brand is that consumers should know. Nike with “Just Do It” positioning statement is usually one of the best examples, consistently and clearly communicating what the most important thing Nike brand does for consumers; it simply inspires people to do their best.
- And of course, successful brands work hard to know their target audience very well to remain relevant for them. Researching consumers’ current behavioural trends, emerging needs and attitudes through primary and secondary research is the crucial first step for planning how to continue building trust and connecting with the consumers. Fact-based insights generated from robust research findings are the essence of resonating with the consumers through a relevant action and a communication plan (and building resilience in the end).
In summary, building brand trust and resilience in challenging times is not a quick fix, but it is possible through following key brand-building strategies, via
- having a relevant brand positioning proposition,
- communicating the benefit offered to the consumers clearly
- knowing the needs and expectations of the key target audience very well and acting on fact-based insights.
These are also some of the key principles we would guide brands through in our brand strategy development process.