Brand Launch on Pause
What happens when your brand launch is perfectly timed with a global pandemic?
Every time I undertake a challenge that stretches me—or maybe even scares me—I experience a rush. Sometimes careful planning can amplify the anticipation of that rush. Conquering a new distance on my bicycle, piloting expensive video equipment over a river to capture a rowing team, launching a new brand for my business… they’ve all been stretch opportunities I’ve savored recently.
Even after decades in the communications business, new professional opportunities still exhilarate me. This is how I know I’m on the right path. Do you feel that too?
Eventually, everything becomes commonplace. That’s when it’s time to go after something new, something that excites you, and inspires you to learn some new tricks.
Best laid plans
I spent most of 2019 preparing my business for a new brand—one that would more clearly express the strong feelings that we have about brands that connect customers with experiences. If you’ve done this for your business, then you know how challenging that self-examination can be. If you want to reach the part that delivers the rush, you better be prepared to dig into the details.
It all came together by January 2020. We’re here to tell brand stories about businesses that are on the threshold of something new; something big; something that needs to be done right. For our clients, that next big move will help them win customer loyalty by delivering an outstanding experience. Our targets are those leaders who understand the cost of underselling their strengths… of misrepresenting their brand.
In short, those who savor the rush of the next opportunity that feels just beyond their reach.
Leap Day, 2020. It made complete sense. A day that only comes around every four years. A day that symbolizes that leap of faith in a year that symbolizes clarity of vision. What a perfect day to launch Verge Experience Strategies.
Vergex had a social launch plan with weekly creative scheduled for LinkedIn. The program launched on Leap Day, February 29, 2020, with the post shown here.
“What a perfect day to make bold moves,”
… NOT (cue needle-scratch on vinyl record)
We’ve all lived with the rest of the story. A contagious disease attacks the planet. It shuts down travel, commerce, and business life as we know it. Hundreds of thousands die. People seek refuge in isolation and just about everything stops while scientists and frontline workers try to save us all.
My Vergex launch was stopped. The exhilaration dropped into my stomach like going head-first over my handlebars.
Uncertainty shrouded every business conversation. The United States, and the rest of our world, seemed ready to spiral downward into the next Great Depression. This was not, in any conceivable way, the right time to launch a new brand. It’s as if all of the oxygen had been removed from the room. With wide eyes and a clenched jaw, I took it all in.
The power of shared experiences
In early April of 2020, two weeks after the US shut down, I wrote a blog post called “Brand Visibility in Crisis.” As I sat and contemplated what to do next, I realized that I had already drawn a path forward… one that I had shared with clients as their way forward in a time of unprecedented crisis.
This post was my personal take on what many others were echoing. Over the next six weeks, I used many of those ideas to guide my most important interactions. Because life can’t just stop. It evolves. It adapts. And we adapt with it.
It turns out, many of my clients were facing the very same challenges I was. How can I keep my brand visible at a time where outbound marketing just feels wrong? But they were looking for answers from ME. My strategy of rolling up my sleeves and demonstrating that I was “with them” led to a full schedule of solution scrums… rarely at full rate, but this was not a time for full rate.
We talked about ways to help non-profits retain their donation levels. We examined brand positions that need to have a more human and experiential feel. We brainstormed on transforming in-store experiences into online experiences. We looked, together, at the role of business in times of crisis.
This universal crisis was causing everyone to ask very similar questions:
- How can we continue to connect with our audiences?
- What should we be talking about in times of crisis… and beyond?
- How can we show our true colors at a time when self-promotion feels wrong?
For Vergex, the answers were part of what we’ve known for a long time…
- Build strong shared experiences with customers and influencers.
- Find ways to be as helpful as you can to your valued customers.
- Keep your eyes wide open and be ready to pivot at the right moment.
Lemons to lemonade
We’re exceedingly proud, and thankful, to have had the chance to help our clients engage with their customers and communities. And now, after a very brief pause, Vergex is moving toward a more mature phase of its brand journey — one that delivers stories of client success through adversity.
Yup… we’ll miss the fancy launch promotions. All those tricky visuals and cute headlines now live as crumpled paper in the wastebasket. And we won’t look back at Leap Day 2020 with the same creative swagger we had in early February.
Vergex didn’t ride in on a wave of exhilaration. We showed up solidly grounded in values and shared humanity. We showed up on the shoulders of decades of well-earned partnerships and professional experience. And by simply showing up as who we are, we’ve established a brand that real people can trust and turn to in times of uncertainty, change, and exhilaration.
How are you showing up these days? Was your brand putting its best human-centric side forward? What were the lessons you learned through either the first few months of COVID-19 or through another major obstacle? How have you used this downtime to prepare for your next pivot?
An enduring devotee of communication design and strategy, I’ve dedicated my 40-year career to delivering outstanding brand value and client experiences. I created Verge Experience Strategies (VergeX) to help you do the same. VergeX works closely with business owners, CMOs, and entrepreneurs to identify and express their brand’s unique value. We then help them build credibility and engagement to win the loyalty of customers, employees, and communities.
Join me as I continue to explore and muse upon the evolution of human communication.