Now is the critical time for every one of us to make sure that our business is in the best possible health: it’s the time to clarify our unique qualities and build an even stronger community to help us weather the storm and recover quickly.
The difficulties raised by this harsh operating environment and severe financial pressure is compounded for many organisations by internal factors particularly surrounding staff morale. Unsettled working conditions unsettle staff which affects their performance. Worrying about the threats of survival from possible closures and liquidations, job loss, redundancy or even pay cuts is an extremely effective way to undermine confidence commitment and productivity.
Against this doomsday backdrop is the usual cry by respected marketers that in times of crisis, companies should in fact increase spend on brand development and marketing. As the 2008 recession demonstrated, those who maintained or increased spend recovered quickly and those who decreased spend, didn’t.
With the tough financial climate, a stressed workforce and the need to spend more, you might be forgiven for wondering whether there is in fact anything that you can do to shore up your business in these highly challenging times.
Well, there is no quick-fix panacea but it is well-known that in times of crisis it is the strongest, clearest and most united organisations that ultimately thrive.
Attempting to address both HR and commercial challenges now, when the world has been turned upside down may sound ludicrous but it could just be the very solution. If you turn the problem on its head and embrace the idea that this is an opportunity for you to engage with your people and re-examine, and ultimately strengthen, the very core of your brand, you will be putting your organisation into the strongest position in which to overcome all the challenges.
Involving your people in the critical strategic issue of defining (or updating) your company’s sense of purpose embracing the key questions – why do you exist, what you are trying to achieve and how you are going to get there – demonstrates more strongly than mere words that you value them and their contribution. Moreover, not only will you have a clear and updated brand purpose but having been forged by your whole team they will fully support it. A united and engaged workforce translates onto the bottom line through positive customer relations. There is truth in the cliché that an organisation is only as strong as its people.
A reinvigorated brand will help strengthen your organisation and make it resilient – better able to ride the storm and emerge quickly when restrictions are lifted. It will provide you with the clarity you need to create a clear brand narrative and key messages that resonate with both your internal and external audiences and set you apart from your rivals. If you address your sense of purpose with your staff now, you will be providing your business with the competitive advantage it needs to bounce back quickly, on course to realise your business aims and objectives.
The marketing gurus are right, focusing even more strongly on your brand and marketing effort in a time of crisis is the best way to survive and prosper. However, this doesn’t have to mean committing significant amounts of money – which is just as well given the present financial climate and slashed budgets.
Today, there is a new, online toolkit on the market which will enable you to engage your staff in developing your purpose now, yourselves, without having to spend money on consultants.
Priced for even the smallest budget, the toolkit guides businesses of any shape or size seamlessly through a brand strategy programme so that they can refine their sense of purpose with the involvement of their staff. This means that for minimal outlay you can crystallise your unique point of difference and keep your people committed and loyal. Strengthening your brand will help keep your business on track during the lockdown and once restrictions are lifted, you will emerge with an even stronger brand, streamlined communications and increased commercial value. All without having to hire expensive external consultants.
Start your recovery today by working with your people to refine your sense of purpose.
Fenella McCarthy, Strategic Director, Housebrands