Everyone wants to be someone else. This 6 word sentence props up billion-dollar industries, creates unrelenting waves of consumer demand, provides employment to millions and always keeps us wanting for the next best thing. Consider the scenario of you getting a radically different haircut — going from long to ultra-short, shaving your head off or getting a style you never had before.
There are two possible outcomes playing out of this scenario:
- You get both praise and brickbats but your self decides to stick with the new style
- You get both praise and brickbats but your self can’t handle the brickbats and you revert back to your previous hairstyle
Brands do not have it this easy, which means there are less opportunities for flip-flops. The disasters on trying to ride purpose, social action, sustainability and more recently, BLM, are all around you. In short, brands do not have the option of wearing the “Emperor’s New Clothes” because they will be called out almost immediately.
Brands evolve gradually, and when they are in the hands of the right custodians, they do so cautiously. As they evolve, the perceptions they create, the images they build and their definition also evolve. You have the choice of positioning your brand as a problem solver or as an allure in this journey.
Sustainability, community empowerment, purpose and social progress are all the rage now in terms of brand positioning platforms (and rightfully so). But even on these platforms, a brand can sustain a major beating on its equity if it is simply perceived to be a vanity. A brand needs to be seen as a solution for enhanced sustainability, higher levels of community empowerment, implementing purpose and elevating social progress to be taken seriously.
Let’s move down a level to a brand’s functional and emotional positioning. The single biggest trend across industries is the move towards “services” as a positioning. Moving towards services has one inherent advantage — service as an offer sounds more ‘solution’ish’ compared to a brand. Organisations have tried this pivot for decades, but the opportunity has never been bigger as it is now. On the top of it, Covid-19 accelerated it.