Key pillars to brand success in changing times

Over the next two months, we will explore the challenge of staying relevant and competitive as a brand amidst ever-shifting consumer preferences, especially as technological progressions and fierce competition constantly reshape the playing field.

Alice Hedlund, Principal at STRAT7 Advisory, explores three key pillars to maximise brand value and growth in a changing market landscape: unwavering authenticity, strategic execution, and staying on the front foot through data-driven insights.

In today’s dynamic and evolving business environment, brands face the challenge of staying relevant and competitive amidst ever-shifting consumer preferences, technological progressions and fierce competition which constantly reshapes the playing field. In this era of disruption, brands that fail to adapt risk becoming obsolete, while those that embrace change and invest heavily in their brand are better equipped to ride the wave of transformation.  

At STRAT7, we have identified three key pillars to maximise brand value and growth in a changing market landscape: unwavering authenticity, strategic execution, and staying on the front foot through data-driven insights.  

Riding the wave of change with grounded authenticity

Can your brand stand by its values yet remain agile as the world around you shifts?

A recent study from Accenture found that 83% of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services from brands that share their values, and 77% are more likely to recommend brands that are aligned with their personal values. This is just one of many indications that consumers are increasingly demanding transparency from businesses and seek out authentic brands that resonate with their beliefs. When consumers trust a brand, they are more likely to support its evolution and embrace new directions or innovations in times of change.  

However, to embrace authenticity in a changing world requires deliberate navigation and prioritisation of opportunities, coupled with a thorough understanding of your brand strongholds and consumer perceptions. Businesses must be deliberate about their choices and focus their efforts on paths that align with their core values and heritage, otherwise they are at risk of diluting consumer trust and relevance.  

The iconic toymaker LEGO has thrived for over 80 years by consistently adhering to its core values and mission to “inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow”. This authenticity has enabled the company to navigate disruption and embrace innovation, while staying true to its roots. For example, in the face of competition from digital entertainment, LEGO has successfully expanded its reach through licensed partnerships such as Star Wars, but also focused their social initiatives around child education and programming – clearly linked to their mission and values.

Businesses that invest in their brand and prioritise understanding their brand’s tangible value, as well as attainable opportunities, have a better chance to be authentic yet agile. By staying true to their core values, these brands build trust and loyalty, enabling them to navigate disruption and emerge stronger.  

Bridging the vision-execution gap for commercial brand impact

Can your business successfully translate the brand vision into impactful execution in a rapidly changing consumer landscape? 

While a well-crafted brand vision serves as a compass for your business, it is the holistic execution, coupled with a deliberate commercial lens, that will bring that vision to life and create desired impact. A recent study by Bain & Company found that companies that align their brand strategy with their internal and external activities are 37% more likely to achieve their financial goals. Successful brands seamlessly integrate their brand platform with business planning processes and carefully translate the strategy into tangible actions across the organisation, creating cohesive brand experiences that resonate with consumers at every touchpoint. Unfortunately, it is often the case that businesses spend time and money on crafting that perfectly articulated vision or purpose, without investing nearly as much effort in bringing the strategy to life to see the true impact that it could shape.  

This vision-execution gap often has to do with neglecting some essential perspectives to fully create sustainable value and impact for your brand. An all too common scenario is that initiatives coming out of a brand strategy are siloed in marketing/brand/communication departments. Often, these brand building initiatives are either difficult to track, or are too far from what the organisation is capable of accomplishing without designated resources or capabilities.  

To successfully capture the desired impact of the strategy, brand building initiatives need to reach the entire organisation, but also be anchored in thorough commercial understanding and tied to clear, measurable growth objectives. A brand strategy is most impactful when it is central to any business decision, have clear implications on everything from acquisitions to customer experience and innovation, and most importantly – that initiatives can be achieved, tracked and linked to clear business and brand targets.   

Navigating turbulence through consumer insights and commercial acumen

Are your future branding decisions based on a thorough understanding of your market, customers and commercials?

At the heart of effective brand navigation lies data-driven understanding. By systematically leveraging consumer insights, brands can gain profound knowledge of their audience’s needs, aspirations, and behaviours, providing invaluable guidance for crafting compelling brand experiences that resonates with consumers and drive engagement.  

While consumer insights provide the foundation for brand navigation, commercial acumen is the key to translating those insights into actionable strategies that drive business growth. When consumer insights and commercial acumen are combined, they form a powerful synergy that enables brands to navigate turbulence and drive decision-making that align with market realities and business objectives.   

However, in times of change, this process cannot be static. Brands need to actively gather the right insights to stay ahead of the curve to maintain brand value and relevance among their audiences. This requires a proactive approach to monitoring and analysing market trends and culture to spot deviations in consumer behaviour or predict new shifts in the category.

The Spanish retailer Zara has become known for its commitment to customer-centricity and data-driven decision-making. By actively involving its customers in product development, leveraging in-store data analytics and AI monitoring to predict trends, Zara has cultivated a thorough understanding of evolving consumer preferences to inform their future brand work. This approach has enabled Zara to swiftly adapt to changing trends, introduce new styles at speed, and deliver fashionable apparel at affordable prices. As a result, Zara has established itself as a global leader in the fashion landscape, consistently satisfying customer demands and maintaining a strong brand identity.

Businesses that embrace a deep and ongoing understanding of their customers, their brand and market opportunities are well-positioned to maintain brand value over time. To be successful, brands need to equip their employees with the right tools and skills to seamlessly integrate insights with decision-making processes and action, but most importantly: to foster a culture of curiosity and customer-centricity.  

In short, by embracing authenticity, unifying vision and execution, and leveraging data-driven insights, brands can successfully navigate the changing landscape with agility and resilience. 

Stay tuned for more exciting developments on the topic of understanding, creating and maintaining value for your brand. We’ll be releasing new articles and data on brand performance, hosting a ‘how to’ webinar introducing our proprietary frameworks, and podcasts featuring leading experts in this space.  

Interested in finding out more?

If this topic caught your interest and you think your company needs help navigating change, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at enquiry@strat7.com and stay tuned for more on leading your brand through change successfully.

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Joe Lockey

Senior Analyst

Joe joined us after completing rotations across our consumer, services and health sectors, whilst gaining exposure to both qualitative and quantitative research techniques.

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Alice Hedlund

Principal

Alice has experience in customer-centric growth, brand strategy and innovation at global scale. She specialises in brand transformation journeys, bridging the gap between business and brand strategy to create holistic and actionable plans for impactful growth.

Helen Donald

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Tom Carvell

Principal

Tom has a science background with a PhD in Materials Chemistry. He has spent most of his career working on in-house front-end innovation where he delivered mid/long term strategic projects for brands such as Durex, Scholl, Veet and KY. He is focussed on delivering pragmatic but provocative innovation strategy for CPG categories.

Manick Pratheeban

Senior Principal

Manick is a brand strategy and consumer insight specialist with 15+ years’ experience helping to grow some of the world’s biggest brands. He has a proven track record of translating trends, consumer, and market data into actionable insights to formulate growth strategies.

Kate Jones

Senior Principal

Kate has over a decade of experience in creating transformative strategies for customer-focused businesses. With a background in consumer insight and behaviour change across consumer health, packaged goods, leisure, banking and other sectors she focuses on elevating the customer experience to create human-centric innovations and foster impactful growth.

Jacob Gascoine-Becker

Partner

Jacob specialises in leveraging consumer research to inform investment strategy and business case development. A management consultant since 2014, he previously spent eight years working in ecommerce and digital marketing.

Ines Achabal

Senior Analyst

Ines is inately curious and creative. She is known for her expansive thinking when exploring client challenges and elevating the visual quality of outputs to maximise their impact.

Helene Mills

Partner

Helene has 20+ years’ experience advising business leaders and investors on growth strategy based upon consumer and market intelligence. Her particular specialism lies in leisure, retail, food and beverage sectors.

Helen Donald

Helen Donald

Partner

Helen has consulted businesses at different stages of growth across a variety of sectors, specialising in consumer packaged goods and consumer healthcare. She is an adept strategist, bringing clarity to the most complex of situations and connecting dots to create rich, future-proofed platforms for innovation, brand positioning and growth.

Allan Chen STRAT7 Advisory

Allan Chen

Senior Principal

Allan’s core skillset provides an analytical and commercial lens to address client challenges. He started his career as an actuary, and since then has held a broad range of strategic roles, improving performance across the private and public sector.

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Björn Dufwenberg

Managing Director​

Björn has 15+ years’ experience in insight-driven transformation, across management consulting, as well as brand and innovation agency roles. Most recently he headed up the Customer-Led Transformation practice at PwC Sweden, until joining STRAT7 in 2021. He’s worked on global projects covering consumer goods, durables, spirits and beverages, retail, banking, and private equity.

Kamilla Dala

Senior Principal

Kamilla has 10+ years’ experience leading and implementing insight-driven transformation within global matrix organisations in durable and consumable goods. Areas of expertise cover segmentation, uncovering and translating actionable consumer insights within innovation, product development, brand positioning, strategy and marketing.