In military strategy, if you are unsure of the terrain ahead, then mobility is your key objective. You want to ensure that no matter what lays ahead, you are able to pivot and adapt at a moment’s notice if required. Otherwise, your survival is uncertain.
In rapidly evolving and unpredictable market conditions, branding is no different. Agility and responsiveness, adaptability and rapid reactivity are essential traits for survival. Brand strategy must become less rigid, more reactive and open to change if brands are going to stay relevant at a time when consumer trends are changing faster than ever before. Agile brands have a few defining factors that set them apart from brands which most likely, at some stage, will fade into irrelevancy.
They strive to be adaptive
Agile brands are not simply open to the idea of change. An agile brand will actively embrace change as a cornerstone of their strategy. Whether this change is technological, societal or any other, they adapt and move with the market. In 1908, Henry Ford brought motoring to the masses with a revolutionary machine that would define the 20th century; and may yet shape the future of mankind. Before this, humans had always relied upon domesticated animals for personal transportation.
Logic would dictate that those who controlled this market would be first to adapt and move with the market. So why didn’t they? It comes down to them not understanding what they were. Rather than being in the horse and carriage industry, they were actually in the transportation industry but had placed blinders on themselves, remaining blissfully ignorant to the change happening around them.
They value Thought Leadership
The pursuit of thought leadership is not only beneficial for customer conversation. It forces a brand into a constant state of learning, research and open-minded curiosity. The opposite of this is a brand that is complacent with their learning and believe that their brand and their business is something sacred which needs protecting. They believe they have found the best way of doing something and are set on sticking to this. There is no surer way to fail than to adopt this attitude towards learning.
They lean towards innovation over iteration
Agile brands do not wait to follow the crowd. They move first and with conviction. This is not to say they recklessly charge into the unknown, but they do not shy away from innovation and embrace new technologies, new trends, new norms. Brands who gently edge into new practices are automatically behind. They will always be playing catch-up with those brands who did their research and then made a decision.
Burberry are a pioneer luxury brand when it comes to traversing new digital terrain. Their CEO cited digital technology as central to the brand’s way of thinking. They strive to give their customers access to the brand in a way that was previously unheard of in the luxury world. This positioning has allowed Burberry to be one of the most prominent fashion brands in digital, tapping into new markets before any other rival. Considering the heritage of the label, their ability to innovate with their brand is admirable.
They craft a story around values rather than services
Identifying and preserving the core principle of the brand, the unalterable brand promise that the customer can rely on over time, within a brand’s story is a sure way to build agility in branding. Products and services change over time, and every element of a business can change with them. A constant should be brand values and beliefs. A brand’s story should be timeless. All other facets can be in constant evolution, whilst the story timelessly communicates the deeper purpose of a brand.
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