Brand resilience in a world that fell apart in 2020

And yet, while the Covid Pandemic feels globally pervasive, the world has faced diversity before.

We are living through extraordinary times…

And yet, while the Covid Pandemic feels globally pervasive, the world has faced diversity before. From War to Revolution or Natural Disasters. We survive this turbulence because we are adaptable with an innate need to survive. Resilience is what defines us and what should define our brands too.

You’ve probably heard about how vital resilience is today, both personally and in business, which is perhaps why it is one of the most popular courses on LinkedIn. Mckinsey defines the companies that “ride the waves of uncertainty instead of being overpowered by them,” as resilients. Their research on how these businesses performed post-2008 economic slowdown shows they managed to increase their earnings by 10%. In comparison, industry peers had lost nearly 15%.

Let me start with my own story of resilience

In April 2010 JansenHarris opened its doors for business. As a new entrepreneur the task ahead of was daunting. On day one, I gave up after two hours of googling ‘how to win business’ and watched TV for the rest of the day. But I am tenacious and on day two I reached out to old contacts for a chat. Some of these chats turned into meetings and then proposals. Sounds easy, but the reality was scary and very slow. Challenges came thick and fast. Every facet of the business rested on my shoulders. At 33 I was running a creative agency in the Middle East, responsible for the employment of others, the person in charge. It was tough, scary, lonely and stressful. But it was also hugely exciting and adventurous. Working through those uncomfortable situations taught me to be resilient, to be brave, to take risks. 11 years later, and JansenHarris is an award-winning creative agency with offices in Dubai and London and clients such as Marriott International, Jack Daniel’s and Heineken. We have the good fortune of working with phenomenal people and their brands every day.

How resilient brands drive business resilience

Well, the answer comes down to the age-old tenant of success in business, one I always share with my team: Relationships are everything. And that’s just what a brand is, a relationship, the promise of value you receive through giving your money, energy or time. When expectations meet or exceed the experience, integrity leads to trust, the hallmark of all healthy relationships. And whenever a crisis strikes, relationships are tested and, in most cases, fundamentally transformed forever.

A classic example of this is how the very nature of brand relationships has evolved in retail banking. Once a high-touch in-person in-branch interaction has morphed into a couple of taps on an app. Retail bank brands have changed their relationship with clients to become more about utility – fast, seamless and secure. However, with the pandemic, the next evolution calls for them to take the next step to become smarter, connected and more conscious.

Resilient brands ensure that their relationships with their stakeholder communities are both continually meaningful and relevant. Meaningful in terms of the values a brand projects and relevant in the value it promises to deliver. When values and value match what customers, employees and society demands, this equals a strong brand that can outlast change and ‘bounce back’ from disruption.

It’s important to note that, in transformative times, the relationships brands maintain internally are just as important (if not more) as those you have with those people outside of the business. Mckinsey describes resilients as highly agile and responsive by their very nature, by “ideally empowering those employees closest to the work.” A clear brand strategy is the short-hand concise articulation of your business strategy. It communicates your direction with colleagues to give them the clarity to act with confidence.

For resilients, the relationship adage still rings true. What’s yet to be realised however, is keeping a step ahead of their ever-evolving nature, especially in an age where nothing stays the same.

To support our partners in building resilient brand relationships; we’ve developed two data-driven brand solutions to help you measure them and respond.

1. Radr: Detect the trends affecting your brand relationships to explore your next territory and beyond
2. Periscope: Measure and track your stakeholder relationships to uncover and confirm better brand decisions

Are you still there?

We recently worked with Amstel Beer to define a new creative strategy for 2021. Our strategy revealed the line “Am Still Here” a play on “Amstel Beer”. The direction is aimed at standing in solidarity with Amstel drinkers, to show that through times of hardship and challenges, your favourite beer brand is still here to bring enjoyment and create special memories. This direction was a bold move for the brand, enhancing their focus on “sharing moments” as a key creative thought. This is the type of resilience we wish more brands would show today. Identifying the needs of their loyal supporters and delivering to that in an honest and real way.