Brands are in an on-going battle to stay relevant. While staying consistent and adhering to core values remain important for brand integrity, brands must also be agile and adaptive to succeed in today’s digital landscape.
Modern, digital platforms allow for high-speed information sharing and for consumers, this has become the norm. So modern organizations require an agile brand strategy to keep momentum and respond to the zeitgeist in real-time. An agile brand strategy gives brands the opportunity to join conversations while they are still relevant, all while keeping messaging on-brand and aligned with their core values.
In the same way that technology drives the need for agile branding, it also supplies the strategy with the data necessary in order to be effective. Consumers are constantly connected and expect their favorite brands to connect alongside them by offering increasingly personalized and relevant experiences. The majority of connection happens on highly interactive social media platforms, which are treasure troves of customer data and facilitate real-time brand communication. In our highly connected culture, insight into what consumers think and feel about your brand is key to staying agile.
Traditionally, branding strategy was relegated entirely to messaging and collateral that the branding team could plan out and create months in advance. In fact, before Social Media and Cloud technology revolutionized customer interaction and digital workplaces, reacting at the moment was extremely difficult and often too expensive for brands to even consider. Technology now allows users to connect freely, and without it, agile branding is nearly impossible.
Using Your Brand Story to Connect Reactively
Agile branding gives brand teams the chance to get creative and react to cultural trends or events in a variety of different ways — both serious and playful.
IKEA is a great example of how making a playful agile branding move can reinforce core brand principles that have been in place for over 70 years. In 2017, fashion brand Balenciaga unveiled a new item: a bright blue, $2,000 tote bag. At first glance, the item is nondescript. But upon further inspection, social media users noticed the bag was extremely similar to IKEA’s iconic 99 cent shopping bag. Nudged by their agency partner, Acne, IKEA’s in-house brand team moved quickly and pushed out a playful ad the next day.
IKEA revealed an ad for “The Original” blue bag in the same style as Balenciaga’s ad. There was no real competition involved, and social media users applauded IKEA for their quick wit. By quickly reacting and inserting themselves into the narrative with branded material, IKEA stayed relevant in the news and reinforced their products’ iconic status and brand values of delivering style and affordability hand in hand.
For other brands, agility has always been an intrinsic part of their strategy. Swedish Vodka brand Absolut holds the title for the longest-running print ad. Their success is based on a proprietary agile ad formula that they have used since 1981: Absolut bottle outline + brand logo + clever copy.
Absolut has applied this tried-and-true formula to over 1,500 ad variations and has stayed relevant to their market for over three decades, mastering the art of consistency and agility. Absolut has brought in artists like Andy Warhol and Annie Leibovitz and solicited the help of creatives from around the world to submit their designs for future ads.
Technology Delivers Agile Branding Organization-Wide
Amid the talk of digital channels and customer conversations, it’s easy to forget the important role that employees can play in an agile branding strategy. An organization that unites employees with up-to-date brand values and visual assets leads to improved employee experience. Employees are more engaged with your brand if they see the most recent brand updates flowing into the work they do day-to-day.
To keep employees up-to-speed and included in the latest brand changes requires leadership trust, timely communication and great deployment technologies to keep the entire organization relevant at all times. While this looks different for every brand, tools like enterprise content management platforms and email signature management technologies allow leaders to immediately deploy new brand assets across the organization.
A strong, stand-out brand identity is the best kickoff point for a brand, but to stay relevant long into the future requires a strategy of adaptive and relevant messaging and a team that’s equipped to deliver it to customers and company-wide. In an era where digital information moves at an unprecedented pace, a brand strategy that can keep up is essential to staying afloat.