It’s hard to get past all the uncertainty that is right in front of us thanks to COVID-19. It’s easy to think about how bad things can get. I don’t want to diminish the need to prepare for serious challenges. That’s not what this is. Consider this an exercise in sanity preservation and hope building.
Imagine a clean slate
Let’s take a moment to imagine what we would do if we had a clean slate with our brand. At the very least, it will give us a break from the worries. And who knows, it may even help us step into areas that, at one time (pre-pandemic), we would have thought of as inconceivable. Consider these questions:
- What would we say and do if we didn’t feel compelled to return to the brand strategy we had adopted pre-pandemic?
- Could we develop an approach that serves more than it sells? This doesn’t mean abandoning the need to be profitable, but it does propose that there is a different route to get there. One that shifts the emphasis from pushing product to serving a larger purpose — something that prospects find irresistible. Look to brands like TOMS, Ben & Jerry’s, and more for examples of how meaning and money are mutually catalytic.
- Could we make the shift from pushing what makes us different to inviting in all those we hope to serve to join us in advancing the difference we can make as a brand?
- What if we thought of our brand as a collaborator rather than a competitor? What new avenues of growth could we open up by working with those who we serve and even those who used to be our enemies in our fight for business? Mutually beneficial relationships sound way more fun than battles for mind share and market share.
All of this can sound like a fantasy, but consider this — way before the pandemic Unilever was already making the shift to purpose. In fact, the company warned that it may sell off brands in its portfolio if they didn’t embrace a larger purpose.
I’m not saying the pandemic is a good thing. But there are possibilities that may emerge. It may become easier to make the move to a purpose-driven approach. And at a speed that exceeds what the pioneers like Unilever experienced.
It’s worth taking a moment and considering what may be possible for our brands on the other side of this outbreak. It’s worth asking these questions. We may discover a future that we could have only dreamed of before.
Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.
Originally published at https://www.dansalva.com on April 2, 2020.