The only constant is change. Especially now, change on almost every front creates a dynamic that’s incredibly confronting. Change presents a challenge to businesses but it can also present unexpected opportunities. While you can’t predict the future, strategic thinking can prepare you for what may come. Strategies that ‘future-proof’ your brand can be easily formulated and implemented.
A future-proof brand is about adaptability. It’s the ability to pivot, adjust, and reinvent while staying true to your core values and purpose. As markets evolve and customer expectations shift, a future-proof brand is always one step ahead, ready to embrace new opportunities. Starting with intention and building from there, a business can understand what lies ahead and be strategic in planning their path forward and how to be ready to adapt when necessary.
But how do you future-proof your brand? It all starts with a brand strategy rooted in purpose.
Brand Strategy Rooted in Purpose
The guiding hand for to future-proofing is a brand strategy and at the core of that is purpose. The first thing that a business needs to understand is why it exists or what it is there to do. With this as a sounding board for every strategic tactic can be screened with a simple question: ‘Does this align with our purpose?’
Having a brand strategy to guide what you do keeps the business focused and provides a consistency that fosters customer loyalty. It ensures your brand resonates with your target audience based on shared values and aspirations.
Business Resilience Through Scenario Planning
Scenario planning is a strategic tool that engages a business to consider strategies for a range of events that may occur in the future. What sets scenario planning apart from other planning tools, such as forecasting, is that it creates a story around what could happen rather than what is most likely to happen. Decision-makers are more engaged when potential scientific and social outcomes are presented in a narrative relevant to their business. This fosters collaboration and innovation leading to business resilience and adaptation. Defining events that present big impact or uncertainty lie at the heart of the narrative.
By identifying the ‘big events’ that may be coming you can define the signposts that show they’re coming. These signposts are your call to action. It’s time to put your strategy for that scenario in place.
Robust External Analysis
To ignore what’s going on around you is to commit to failure. Recognising what is happening at the various levels that impact your business is essential for strategy.
To understand what may be coming you must understand the environment you are operating in. Performing a PESTEL will allow you to see the shifting landscape you are operating in beyond just your industry. When choosing factors that will inform strategy, it’s important to ensure they are plausible and have evidence to support them. This provides a solid foundation for scenario planning.
Refining the scope of research, monitoring industry trends, competitor actions, and market dynamics, can provide valuable insights. Even more targeted research with customers or consumers can offer more specific insights into their needs and your opportunity to meet them.
Tactics for Small Businesses
The future-proof brand strategy is rooted in purpose to guide you. There are some core tactics that go hand in hand with this kind of strategy.
Sometimes business as usual will be your doom. You need to be agile to survive. This doesn’t always mean changing your business entirely. Agility can be incremental and operational. When in doubt look to your brand purpose to guide you. It will inform decisions on new opportunities and whether they are a fit for your business.
Innovation can affect any part of your business. Be aware of emerging technologies and trends in your industry and those adjacent to you. You don’t have to be disruptive to be innovative (but you can be). Even incremental innovation can lead to new revenue streams and a competitive edge. Understanding your customer will give you the insights you need to innovate.
Have a Customer-Centric Approach:
Understand your customers deeply. This means talking to customers and asking questions. If you don’t ask you won’t discover. Nothing quashes confirmation bias like 100 customers telling you they want something different. Conversely, many an epiphany has been had by hearing the same problem that needs to be solved by multiple customers.
Collaborate and Network:
You can’t be everything to everyone, so don’t try. Success can come from partnerships, incorporating the capability of others through collaboration. Other businesses, industry associations, and experts might help you reach the lofty goals you’re striving for.
Make Data-Driven Decisions:
Nothing demonstrates success or failure more than the numbers. Collect relevant data and let it inform your decisions. Don’t collect numbers for the sake of it though. New projects or innovation should have targets attached to them. Those targets should have actions linked to them. Data should guide when to bail as much as when you’re onto a winner and will act as signposts in your scenario plan.
While no business can be ready for every possibility, every business can prepare themselves for uncertainty. Guided by a purpose-driven brand strategy, businesses can use several tactics to improve operations, prepare for crises or pursue the next opportunity.
Ready to future-proof your brand and navigate market changes with confidence? Book a virtual coffee with us to explore how Brand-Led Business can help you future-proof your business.