During downturns in the economy or other major impacts on their industry or market segment, companies have the tendency to operate from a mindset of scarcity. Rather than pivoting, you may simply need to leverage your company’s existing brand strengths in new ways. Instead, run your brand strategy for an abundance mindset.
This is a time of scarcity.
Most businesses have too few sales. The companies that have increased demand are experiencing labor shortages, or health and safety challenges, not abundance. Risk mitigation, cost cutting, and scenario planning are forefront on the minds of leadership teams everywhere.
And that is why now is a time when it’s absolutely critical to run your brand strategy with an abundance mindset.
Bear with me while I digress.
My dad is an Episcopal priest. I grew up in a family that spoke a language of abundance and generosity. We said (well, actually sang) grace at every meal, sometimes to my embarrassment when I had friends over for dinner. We gave of our “time, talent, and treasure.” We volunteered serving meals at the local soup kitchen, a great reminder that not everyone has the security of a hot meal every day. Who we were, what we had, was valued, no matter how meager or imperfect. The promise of short-term gain was never an acceptable excuse to compromise your values.
The funny thing is, I’m actually finding this mindset, this faith, whatever you want to call it, to be a smart brand strategy right now.
I have seen a number of companies look at their operations and see abundance in very effective ways. For example, my friend’s company, Universal Plastics, has been making face shields and intubation boxes, as a way to support frontline workers, and also to raise team morale at a time when everyone is feeling stressed and isolated.
“We had been reading about the dire need at not only hospitals, but nursing homes and elder care homes, and it just blew our minds of the breadth and depth of how much need there was,” said Pia Kumar, co-owner and chief strategy officer. “We thought, ‘What could we make with the materials we had and have the tools for?’”
This is an abundance mindset. Staying true to their core competency as a custom plastic products manufacturer, they have found a way to amplify that strength. And as a company that truly cares about their workforce and the community, they have found a way to amplify those values, too. They have resisted making these a profit center (which I’m sure might have been tempting as orders rolled in) and are instead selling them at cost.
This is an abundance mindset. Their values, their message of stability and strength, and their pride in their community hadn’t changed because of the virus. Their message stayed relevant and authentic even as the world around them changed, so they could steer clear of messaging that sounded opportunistic or hollow. Who they had always been was who they still were now.
I have also found myself with inquiries for work that is slightly outside our core capabilities of brand strategy. It’s probably work that we could do, but it’s not necessarily work that we would do better than other companies, and it’s not our expertise. The temptation to say yes to work like that is real. In a time like this, can I really afford to turn down work?
But I did. I passed a referral on to experts in my network who could more effectively serve that client than I could. There would be other opportunities. Underserving a new client wouldn’t do either of us any good in the long run.
This is an abundance mindset. Staying true to our expertise is more important when times are tough than it is when the economy is booming. If you won’t experience some pain for your core values, are they really your core values?
This is a time when you hear the word “pivot” constantly. But right now, you need to be the judge of what is a pivot that is taking you closer to your value proposition, closer to your long-term goals, and what is a distraction that is actually leading you further away.
It’s tough, but knowing when to say yes and when to say no is a test that every brand is going to have to go through over the next weeks and months.
Approaching these tests, these opportunities and challenges, with a sense of abundance will help you know which path to follow.