Brand leadership in troubled times

During the darkest of times, when uncertainty and confusion reign, people yearn for leadership.

Sometimes it comes from a President like Franklin Roosevelt, who famously said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Sometimes it comes from trusted institutions. And, sometimes, in business and popular culture, leadership comes from brands.

A brand is so much more than a clever name, a creative logo, or a memorable tag line. A brand is a promise. It’s a promise that your organization makes every day, to customers of course, but also to employees, partners, vendors, investors, regulators, media, and the many markets and communities where you operate. A brand promise encompasses more than just products and services and stretches to include an organization’s culture and purpose. Today, Anheuser-Busch is making hand sanitizer. Louis Vuitton is making masks. Ford is making ventilators. Somehow, coming from these well-established brands, it feels right.

In times of crisis, when people question everything, a well-thought out brand promise can be a ‘north star’ that keeps your organization traveling in the right direction and focused on what matters most. Successful brands act as a roadmap, guiding strategy and decision-making. Successful brands are a shared vision that rallies your customers and your team around a unified purpose, culture, and voice.

The U.S. economy is at a virtual stand-still. American consumption patterns have completely changed, and people are sheltering in place. Since normal business activity has slowed, it is a perfect time to look internally and invest in your brand. Now is the time to take a critical look at your customers, your culture, and your promise. Now is the time refresh your brand, so when this crisis passes (as it surely will) you will be a stronger, more focused, and more essential organization than ever before.

What does the process of creating a stronger brand look like? Building a stronger brand involves answering five key questions:

· Who is our customer?

· What business are we in?