What is the lesson about positioning your brand during the Covid Era? Be True to Who You Are.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, you’ve been working hard on business plans, raising funds, building the perfect team, and doing everything else you needed to do to hit the ground running once you were ready and the world was “back to normal.”
It has been a year since the last time this happened. It seems that there is no way back to normal. How do you position your brand in this era of Covid, or the post-Covid era? Or, fingers crossed for the post-Covid era.
The good news is, brand positioning and branding, in general, are naturally adaptable practices. The art of branding adapts to changing markets and consumer needs. Just that things have changed more quickly than usual. It feels disorienting.
Let’s assume you’re sitting on an eCommerce startup. While many of the steps for positioning your brand will remain the same, COVID-19 offers new elements to consider.
Even techno-optimists would admit that the drastic changes in consumer behavior that have been caused by the covid crises are likely to get worse as climate change begins to take effect.
I’m not trying to be negative or depressing, but rather to stress the fact that we cannot see the current upheaval is something we can “wait out.” A good business is agile.
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This is a chance to be a leader in a changing landscape. Many less savvy and adaptable brands won’t make it, leaving gaps in the market. You can see the real potential at this time.
Before we can figure out how to position an eCommerce startup for the covid era we must first look at what has changed.
What has changed in consumers’ behavior after being locked down for a year?
Given that Covid has, according to McKinsey, covered ‘a decade in days’ in terms of consumers adapting to digital services and experiences, there’s no doubt that after all of the upheaval of the pandemic, consumers are feeling wrong-footed.
This strange feeling has had several different effects on the people. First, many people are worried about the future economic prospects of the country in which they live. This economic pessimism causes consumers to return to the core values they hold. It also makes them spend less or more carefully.
On the other hand, during the pandemic, many consumers have tried new ways of shopping, be that shopping online rather than in stores, or simply trying new brands and companies for both products and services.
While people may be more committed than ever before to their core values and beliefs, they are more willing to explore new brands that reflect those values. This is illustrated by the fact that McKinsey’s survey respondents cited purpose and quality as the two main reasons why they tried new brands in recent years or will do so again soon.
What are the values that people are so attached to at the moment and looking for in new brands?
That depends on what kind of consumers you’re looking to attract.
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Squadhelp recently conducted a brand positioning study. We wanted to find out which demographics respond well to modern branding, and which prefer traditional, more familiar branding.
We asked the following question:
We asked over 300 people the following question: “Would it be more interesting to work with a new, innovative organization or a trusted, historied company?”
These are our findings
Although our findings were not surprising, they were quite definitive. These are the results we came up with:
25-34 year-olds New and innovative branding is strongly preferred by consumers. These participants chose to choose new and innovative branding over traditional and trusted brands by just half of them.
35-45 year-olds Although some prefer innovative branding, the majority of respondents were evenly divided between them.
Both 55-65-year olds and 45-54-years-olds are eligible trustees and historied organizations are more appealing to them
55-65-year olds Participants were more drawn to trusted and proven branding than to newer brands.
Men were less likely to choose to support trusted brands than those that are more innovative.
Women We were more likely than our male participants to choose trusted and historic brands. Just under 60% of our female participants favored this option.
In general Out of the 301 participants, 153 chose to go for historic and trusted, while 148 chose new and innovative. This means that any direction is possible, depending on your brand’s goals.
This data shows the most obvious difference in preferences between older and younger consumers. It is predictable, but it is clear.
Younger consumers prefer innovative brands, while older consumers desire trusted and established brands.
It is intuitive to expect that people will turn to brands and places that offer comfort and strength in times of crisis.
Recent research has shown that people are searching for brands that inspire confidence. However, the type of brands that instill confidence differs between generations. Older consumers prefer history while younger customers seek innovation and strength.
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The Importance of Brand Tone for Positioning Brand — Nail that Tone!
Positioning your brand in this spectrum of trusted and historied, as well as innovative and new, is the first step towards establishing a brand tone.
Tones are the first step in naming your brand. This will also help you with all marketing, advertising, and decision-making related to it. What has Covid done to change the brand tone?
Covid has actually made it more important to choose the right brand tone for your new eCommerce startup. Consumers will trust you if you can nail this tone. They will become your customers.
These are the five most loved brand tones:
Any of these tones may be suitable for your business, provided it appeals to the target customers you have created and are trying to attract. The tone you choose should be appropriate for your business. For example, if you are making custom gravestones, your message will not be fun.
If your business is a B2C one, and you sell mostly to millennials or gen z, then you should strive for something interesting, fun, or possibly emotional, if your product fits.
These brand tones reflect the core values that younger consumers value. These are brand tones that make millennials feel safe, which is something we all need during Covid. Are you confident in delivering safety?
After you have chosen a brand tone, the most important decision as a business owner is to name your startup.
Naming your company is a multistep process, and it’s neither a quick nor easy process — but don’t be disheartened by that fact. There is no magic bullet for naming your company. Avoid a bad name. Do not try to come up with the perfect name. There is no perfect name.
A business name generator can help you get started. For example, the Squadhelp company lets you enter your industry, keywords, and emotions you want to evoke. Make sure the suggestions for name ideas you provide are consistent with your brand tone.
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The match between brand tone and name is amazing. What other way will potential customers be able to see and hear your brand tone, and ultimately your brand values?
At this stage, your main concerns should be tone, industry relevance, emotions, and all the rest. If you are working with a group, make sure to write down all the key points on a whiteboard. Then just start putting names in the room.
This is where the brainstorming stage begins. The key is to try as many ideas as you can and then see what sticks.
As a rule of thumb, innovative brands like a new B2C that are positioned somewhere around “fun” and “intriguing” tend to be successful with names that are misspelling, blends, transmutations, or compounds.
You might try combining a few of them. These are just a few examples.
Your brand’s position will be clearly communicated in your name. This will make it easier for consumers to pick up your products. They will also be more likely to align with your business.
Once you have a complete list of suitable names, it is possible to start to eliminate anything difficult to spell or say, as well as anything potentially confusing or off-putting. At the very least, you should see it as such.
Once the list has been reduced to 10 or fewer names, it’s time to test your audience.
Testing your potential name lets you see if your target audience actually responds to the tone and name you have chosen. You want your audience to respond in a certain way, but it doesn’t always happen. You can always go back to the drawing boards if you don’t get a response.
People will either like or dislike your choice. You cannot force them to like it. People will respond collectively to the best or correct name.
Easy to change your name or tone — fix it — at this point.
If you aren’t getting the response you desire from your target audience, don’t give up. They won’t suddenly change their core values once they have invested in a domain name and a trademark. It is easy to make changes right away, but it will be difficult later.
Although you want to focus on your intended demographic at the testing stage, it’s important to make sure audience testing is also intersectional. Remember what I said about weeding any potentially problematic material? This will be easier to do with a wider range of people than a small group of testers who have similar experiences and values.
After you have tested names, it’s likely that you will be down to one or two. Although there might not be as much fanfare for this momentous occasion, you still have your name. Your brand is not built by your name alone. However, a good name can be made great through its association with others.
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Twenty years ago, no one knew what Google was. It’s now a verb. Most people also know that it is a very, really large number. This is not important.
Name your startup is just the first step in establishing your brand positioning. The rest of the process will flow much more easily once you have a name and a branding statement. Keep your brand statement and core values in your mind as you work on your business.
Before making major branding decisions, return to your base (name, brand statement). Next, consider whether this aligns with our values. Is it in line with our values?
There are many approaches to future-proofing a business. Practical concerns such as financial buffers, sustainable practices, and other considerations are crucial to ensuring a business is viable over the long term. Branding is also important.
It might feel safer to stay in the middle and offer everyone something, but not all of it. However, my research and my personal experience show that this is a bad decision.
Covid has had a strong brand, and it will continue to be important, regardless of whether there are any more global crises. The pandemic proved one thing: anything can happen.
When that “anything” happens, consumers are more focused on their values and preferences.
Customers need to know who you are and what you stand for. Also, make sure you have strong relationships during times of good times so you can weather the storms.
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We have all witnessed the value of being able to pivot in the past year. You might have to adapt to changing ways of working and to the lives of your customers.
But, the one thing that you can’t change is?
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