Top Tips for Building a Brand That Can Pivot in Times of Uncertainty


Oof. How’s everyone doing? Seems like a loaded question to ask these days, let alone one to try to answer.

You may have noticed we’ve taken a bit of a hiatus on the blog these last couple months. There’s a lot going on in the world right now (understatement of the century – we know) and we’ve been taking it in, listening, learning, coping, and trying to stay healthy and adapting to our ever-changing reality. That said, it’s also provided us an opportunity to step back and reflect and observe as we watch brands and industries react and evolve to meet the challenges the world currently faces.

We thought now might be an appropriate time to share some advice on what we believe are key traits for a brand to build into their core values and mission. If we’ve learned anything, it’s important to be prepared to pivot in the wake of unforeseeable circumstances, many of which we’ve experienced already in 2020. These include:

1. Humility and Resilience: You’ve seen some of the world’s biggest brands have to take ownership for past mistakes and practices as of late, and they’ve had to do so on the national stage. Not only should a good brand be willing to recognize when they’ve made mistakes externally, but the people behind it should be willing to do so internally, as well. More importantly, they should use these mistakes as learning opportunities and make changes as necessary in their wake. The quicker you can acknowledge mistakes and leverage them to learn, the better. Because as the great Johnny Cash once said, “I learn from my mistakes. It’s a very painful way to learn, but without the pain, the old saying is, there’s no gain.”

2. Flexibility: This one probably goes without saying, but things can change drastically in the blink of an eye, which is why building flexibility into your marketing plan is imperative as it will allow you to be nimble when needed. Creating processes that can be adaptable and change quickly, like contingency plans for Facebook ads, digital marketing placements, campaigns, and content calendars, will help you be prepared to pivot when the time comes. It’s kind of like having an emergency kit ready – you never know if or when you’re going to need it, but it’s good to know you’re prepared if the time comes.

3. Quick and Open Communication: We believe this should be a key component of any business or brand on a good day, but we double down on it when it comes to having a brand that can adapt on the fly. Chances are you already have a lot of these processes in place, but utilizing tools like Zoom, Basecamp, Slack, Asana, and so on, will enable team members across the board to stay in comunicado while much of the workforce continues to work remotely. Beyond that, creating a community and culture where employees feel empowered to make decisions quickly, communicate openly and directly, while cutting through bureaucracy, will increase your ability to respond to challenges quickly and cohesively. 

Like humility, good communication is something that needs to exist both internally and externally at a brand. So while you make sure your house is in order, it’s important to also stay connected to your consumers and meet them where they are. Which brings us to our next tip.

4. Attentiveness: Pay attention to what’s happening in the world. The quickest way to undo all of the hard work of building a brand and good reputation is to be tone deaf in your marketing. We’ve seen cringeworthy posts as of late that show what happens when a brand hasn’t been paying attention to where consumer brains (and hearts) are and it ends up having a worse result than if they had said nothing at all. Pay attention to what’s happening but more importantly, recognize your role in it, when it’s appropriate to speak up (and when you should stay silent and listen). This ties directly to understanding your core values, mission and brand, and customers. What do they need to hear from you right now, if anything?

If you’re reading this and find yourself in a leadership position, remember that you hired your staff for a reason. Now is the time to trust them and let them run with things. 

And lastly, and most importantly, be kind to each other. And to yourself. We are living through unprecedented times, to say the least, so give yourself, and others, a break when necessary. It’s a delicate balance between patience, kindness and accountability, but remember we’re all navigating these wild times together. We hope you stay safe and healthy.