When a brand is highly relevant to our personal and professional lives, we are more likely to seek it out, shell out more cash for a product, and tell friends and family members about the experience in a positive light.
That instant recognition and trust are what all brands aim to achieve, and in 2021, the competition is tougher than ever. Here are some CEO tips to follow as you position your brand for relevance and success this year.
Refresh Customer Relationships
The start of a new year is your chance for a blank slate with all your customers, so take the opportunity to fortify your marketing and service strategies for the next 12 months.
Customers expect a lot from brands these days, and the companies that create the best experiences for shoppers rightfully earn the tops spots in terms of relevance.
“Spend time considering what demographic your business will target,” said Benjamin Smith, Founder and CEO of Disco. “There are simple parameters to think about like age, gender, socio-economic class, location, etc. as well as deciding if your business will service other businesses (B2B) or directly service customers (B2C). Obtain a deep understanding of who your audience will be, so you have a substantial foundation to ground your business on.”
Maybe your audience shifted slightly in the past year or new priorities overshadow old desires. Take into account all the variables at play and use this time to shore up any customer connections in need of repair.
Focus on Experience
Think about the most relevant brands in fashion, entertainment, and technology at the moment. They all put user experience above all else, leaving a powerful impression with each purchase and follow-up touchpoint.
Analyze your customer experience from top to bottom, and spend extra time and resources improving any areas that lag behind.
“User experience is everything. It always has been, but it’s still undervalued and under-invested in. If you don’t know user-centered design, study it,” said Twitter and Medium Co-Founder Evan Williams. “Hire people who know it. Obsess over it. Live and breathe it. Get your whole company on board.”
If you believe your brand’s UX is flawless, think again. It may be time to get an outside perspective or run some tests to see where your priorities lie.
Ramp Up Content Production
Highly relevant brands create imagery and atmosphere that can’t be replicated by any other company, and digital content is the engine that drives these factors forward.
Think of any iconic advertisement or social media campaign, or a high-octane viral video sponsored by a sports drink or nutrition company. Even if the product itself doesn’t get much airtime, the content speaks for itself and keeps the brand relevant throughout.
Whether it’s photos on Instagram, videos on YouTube, or memes on Facebook, fresh and fun content will be key to staying relevant in 2021, so start creating today.
“It’s important to create content that is valuable, informative, and engaging, yet at the same time represents your brand and pushes it forward,” said Eric Wu, Founder and CEO of Gainful. “The way to cut through is by putting out content that not only catches your audience’s attention within the first 3 seconds but also makes a lasting impression by providing valuable and engaging information.”
Be a Force for Good
We saw a lot of companies speak up about major issues in 2020, from virus response and social justice to environmental issues and elections.
Since these can be sensitive topics, it’s important to tread carefully, be taking a bold stance can also ensure your brand remains relevant in the broader scheme of world events.
“We know that many of our customers are people of color so in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and amidst nationwide protests, we created a Twitter thread about how to care for skin after being tear-gassed which received over 900 retweets,” said Olamide Olowe, Founder and CEO of Topicals. “We wanted to help our community in a real, tangible way, and to do so through skincare.”
There’s no surefire playbook to follow here, so assess how other brands are managing these scenarios and follow a strategy that best reflects your beliefs as a company. This can mean issuing a statement from the CEO or amplifying employee voices via social media.
Prepare for Quick Pivots
We saw huge segments of the economy experience heavy disruption in 2020, and of the companies that survived, many are still picking up the pieces.
While the virus presented its own concerns, regulations and restrictions only added to the chaos, impacting supply chains, scheduling, shipping, and more. Brands that lacked a crisis management strategy in 2020 learned their lesson the hard way.
Take this opportunity to go over some pivoting strategies your team can rely on if things get derailed once again in the coming months.
“My definition of pivoting is being open to change and new ideas,” said Omid Semino, Founder and CEO of Diamond Mansion. “When you are willing to change the direction of your company, you’re taking a huge risk— that risk won’t always pay off. However, in many cases, the risk is worth the reward. I believe it is important to be open to pivoting in the business world. If you aren’t willing to adapt to changes, you aren’t growing as a company.”
The key is to have a set of plans in place to navigate uncertainty, minimize negative outcomes, and keep customers assured the entire time.
Rather than reacting on the fly, prepare a set of contingency strategies and be ready to deploy them at a moment’s notice, even if the situation seems near impossible.
Build Vast, Diverse Networks
No brand stands alone in 2021, meaning your company needs to make new partnerships with the most relevant players in your industry. This could be influencers, publications, brand ambassadors, or other tastemakers online.
Be sure to back up the style with substance, because your brand will be fielding plenty of questions and concerns in real-time. Brands that balance thought leadership with trends and high-level service will be unstoppable.
“While we’ve always had an impressive online presence, for 2021, we will focus on establishing ourselves as experts in our field – even more,” said Sally Rong, CEO of Rellery. “We will be further building our community of partners, implementing deeply-researched outreach strategies, and seeking out high-traffic PR opportunities.”
“We want every current or potential customer to know that when they are looking for unique jewelry and meaningful gifts, we have endless options and, perhaps most importantly, will be here to answer questions and provide unparalleled customer service,” Rong continued.
Once your brand rises in relevance, it takes more effort to stay at the top, so don’t let up! With these tips, 2021 will be the year your company makes a breakthrough.