Building brands for an anxious world

The current economic and cultural environment is one of near-constant change. And customers are changing too. From #Metoo to the coronavirus pandemic, from Black Lives Matter protests to seemingly endless political upheaval, what is relevant to a customer can change instantly and dramatically.

And what’s relevant to a customer – what’s happening in their lives right now – affects how they make decisions. What do they value? What do they need? What do they hope for? So brands need to adapt just as fast as the customer to stay relevant.

The most enduring legacy of these anxious times will not be face masks and political graffiti, but the end of continuity as the default assumption. The sheer scale, speed and impact of the COVID-19 crisis is forcing businesses to plan for disruption by innovating around principles such as duplication, agility, modularity and diversity, while putting their customers at the heart of that process.

Recently, we have seen major shifts in consumers’ mindset. Customers are likely to ask three questions: “Is it safe?”, “Is it valuable?” and “Does it mean something to me?”. Those are the three new types of universal need or desire, which we define as safety, trust and meaning.

These three dimensions could well become the platform for a new contract between organisations, consumers and society, and become the new fundamental drivers of choice and demand.

In this dynamic environment, our role at Interbrand is to help clients stay ahead of customers’ expectations to stay relevant. To do this, we combine three lenses, which cover the three fundamental elements of any market: people, businesses and their interactions. What we call human truths, economics and experiences.

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