Picture: WOCinTech Chat
Picture: WOCinTech Chat

If people can have a bucket list of things they yearn to do in life, why can’t brands? We have shortlisted some things we have learnt during 2020 that, whether you’re a small or medium-sized business, multinational corporation or individual trying to build your own personal-sized brand, might help you survive (and grow) in the coming year.       

Instead of mass markets, seek niche audiences. Products produced at mass can often harm markets and the ecology. Look at the mass dumping of fashion products each season. We waste one third of the food we produce. Look around and you’ll see fistfuls of smaller companies selling clothing, cheese, bikes, beauty products, even homes. If you find it’s harder to connect to these niches, it may be because they don’t want you to.   

Set your horizon line. This is also known as vision. It is axiomatic that if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to get there. Some people are trying to make something better, cheaper, more powerful, while others are trying to put a ding in the universe, build world peace or create a bold new way of participating in the world. What are you doing here?   

Acknowledge what you’re not. This is the flip side of “stand for something”. It’s just as important to cite what you never want to become. During its founding years, Google had signs on its walls that said: “Don’t be evil.” (They meant don’t be like big, anonymous IBM.) In the beginning (when only the government and large corporations owned computers) Apple was the computer for the rest of us. Declare your place in the universe.    

Create your own bubble, own your audience. Apple pioneered this “walled garden” model long ago: own the community of fans and advocates that surrounds you. Water them and help them grow. It’s fine to be on Facebook and Instagram (in many cases it’s a necessity) but e-mail and other content tactics can feed more people straight to your site and your services. Note: The folly of paying Instagrammers for their thousands of followers – just to get a mention – has been revealed as a crass attempt to replace the millions of viewers lost from huge TV exposure. Forget the possible fraud, it was a fraudulent strategy. Make your own audience, make your own numbers.    

It’s not a media plan, it’s a media ecosystem. Share content across social, digital and traditional media networks to create an amplified media chorus. Let them sing. Synchronise content engagements with advocates to feed their zealotry and build positive word of mouth. During this era when misinformation has become sport and the public view is that whatever the company has to say is a lie (over 80% think you’re baiting them) your responsibility is to feed your audiences the facts. So when trolls and haters arise, your zealots will stand up for you, define you and defend you. Brand affinity and advocacy (word of mouth) come for free.    

Be original. Revelation is in, redundancy is out. There used to be a place for copycat products, but no longer. No one has the mind space for “me too” anything. Be something admirable. #design #innovation #originality #creativity.   

You’re not a brand, you’re a belief system. People are attracted to others like themselves. People who believe in the same things they do. Want the same things. Celebrate the same things. This “just like me” constellation of parts builds audiences, fans, ecosystems. Belief systems function from seven data points: each has a creation story, creed, icons, rituals, lexicon, nonbelievers and leader. This systematic approach is the simplest, surest way to build any brand around people, places and things (things include products and services).    

Be amazing online. Build your own team of content creators – and solicit partners who can help you build more content. People are willing to opt you into their lives if you provide the information, entertainment and adjacencies they desire. (Example: people who like artisan cheese also like artisan bread, wine, travel, photography, art, music and more.) Think about adjacent companies you can partner with.    

Be amazing offline. Tweak out your user experience so that is friendly, frictionless, fantastic. Terrific online experiences can be dashed by horrible delivery or other reasons. Identify the pain points specific to your category. Since customers may not be able to see you in person, single out other experiences that might be possible. Some beauty companies throw free samples into their boxes. Amazon Prime delivers on the same day. What can you do?    

Don’t get lost in the Fomo. Each day, we can get lost in the side chatter of metrics, AI, VR, AR, B2B2C, chatbots, virtual assistants, growth hacks, brand safety, rankings, updates and more. Stick to your brand. We have a tendency to mimic – to assume that what was right for one company will work for us. This soft rage can be your undoing.    

If 2020 has revealed anything, it has been that we are now two decades into the new century. Legendary brands founded upon 20th-century need-states are in a precarious position and should take a second and third look at their methods and motives if they want to remain relevant, resonant and desired.     

Search the metrics for new markets, fresh strategies. Make Google your friend for life. Its analytics can help you uncover what customers are searching for – before and after they look for you. (Many consumers under the age of 35 are searching for new companies, new products that answer to their own ideals. Be aware.)    

Toughing it out on old models is a perfect solution to puttering your way to extinction (for example Sears, Kmart, Payless – who’s next?).     

Marketing by rote is over. The fragility of traditional enterprise has never been greater. The opportunity for digital-first enterprise has never been stronger. The pandemic will be with us for at least the next 18-24 months.   

And listen up, the plague of the Middle Ages was followed by the great rebirth of the Renaissance. We hope that with the help of the concepts above, you will be reborn too.  

To find out even more: Attend the primalbranding.co webinar Thursday, December 3   

Register to attend here.

The FM Redzone is a proud partner of the primalbranding.co webinar.

Hanlon is founder CEO primalbranding.co 


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