How marketers build a brand will determine how it performs in bad times as well as good – and right now brands need to be able to thrive on change and to embrace volatility, according to two senior planners

Writing for WARC, Oliver Feldwick and Alex Dobson, Head of Innovation and Senior Planner respectively at The&Partnership, observe that we are currently in a state of VUCA – an acronym coined by the US Army in response to the collapse of the USSR, it stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. We may be almost thirty years on from that event, but VUCA explains today’s world well.

VUCA times put a huge strain on companies, the authors note: just as times get tough, they are expected to step up and do more.

“With a huge impact on operating models, revenue, and a hefty dose of uncertainty, it is very difficult to plan as a business and many businesses have had to rip up their operating manual and start again,” say Feldwick and Dobson – spending heavily to reinvent their business, to be COVID-19 safe at the same time as they shift to a whole new customer experience.

“At times like this, brands become an incredibly important part of the armoury for a business,” they state, adding that “there are four main ways that a brand can, and should, support a business in VUCA times”:

1. It should provide a buffer to absorb some of the hardships and the gap between expectations and the necessary reality.

2. It should provide foundations with a connection to consumers that goes deeper than the day-to-day.

3. It should provide the flexibility to adjust and change focus as a business without starting from scratch.

4. It should provide consistency when everything else around the brand has changed.

Taking inspiration from Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book Anti-fragile – anything that “has more upside than downside from random events (or certain shocks) is anti-fragile; the reverse is fragile” – Feldwick and Dobson argue that in times such as these, “businesses need to build in anti-fragility”.

It’s not an easy task, but “the benefit of an anti-fragile brand is immense” – they last longer, grow faster, matter more.

For more details on building an anti-fragile brand and the pitfalls to avoid, read Oliver Feldwick and Alex Dobson’s article in full: Anti-fragile: How to think about brand building in a post-COVID world.

Sourced from WARC