How to futureproof your brand
Didn’t see it coming by brand strategist Marc Stoiber is a book about how marketing hasn’t evolved in a rapidly changing world, and what you can do about it in order to future-proof your brand.
In a world of hyper-connectivity that isolates us, and hyper-consumption that numbs us to superficial campaigns, the brands that prevail will be those with a unique identity that stays relevant.
In his book, Marc starts with the realization that consumer needs are misaligned with traditional marketing, and then guides us through the journey he too embarked on… towards discovering how marketing can stay relevant… how to be futureproof.
Step 1 – Brand Meaning
The first step is to help uncover a brand’s meaning. The bad news is that you can’t invent meaning. On the other hand, every company has meaning, and there’s a process to uncover it. A process called: creating a brand compass. This exercise involves extensive interviews of management, employees, customers, and competitors; as well as intense brainstorming sessions.
The goal is to get to the heart of what a brand stands for. Without a strong and unwavering identity, a brand will never feel authentic to your audience.
This is an arduous and uncomfortable step that the author likens to “sanding the house”. If you do the work, the paint will stick like a charm, and you won’t have to do it again for a long time. But if you cut corners, no matter how expensive the paint and how many coats you put on, it will look and feel fake, and it will peel off.
Step 2 – Be Selective With Your Audience
The second step is to find the right audience: the consumers with whom your identity truly resonates. Unfortunately, there’s no process for finding the perfect match. Think about how we click as humans with each other. It’s a complex and subtle process that requires that we dig deep in order to form a true connection. It’s the same thing with brands.
The good news is that “it’s ok if they don’t like you” – you don’t have to appeal to everyone, something most brands don’t realize and become too generic. It’s ok to be selective in making brand friends, finding your loyal fans that won’t allow your brand to get commoditized. Because it has special meaning to them.
Step 3 – Always Innovate
And the third step is to implement a culture of innovation… always innovate to make sure that your brand stays fresh over the long haul. Living within a brand you grow numb to outside threats and opportunities within 6 months. So you have to put a system of testing and a culture that accepts failure. Accept that you will fail, fail fast, and don’t look back.
What does it all mean?
Futureproofing your brand is about finding its true meaning, which requires that you peel back all the layers of the onion to arrive at the kernel of truth – that’s the scraping of the house. And then, you’re ready to identify your truly loyal fans – the paint that will coat your core structure. But your job isn’t finished there because you have to keep innovating in order to stay relevant and look fresh.
In order to embark on this journey to futureproof your brand, you need to open up to new ideas, accept that your belief systems may get shattered, and embrace your inner clueless-ness. When you embrace the Zen concept of the Beginner’s Mind, then you are ready to break down barriers and build a new, authentic, and more powerful brand construct.
These ideas go against the grain of traditional marketing, and that’s why we didn’t see it coming…