new start

New year/new start… Or not?

With January well underway, Strategy Director Victoria Aspinall discusses 2022 predictions, long-term brand growth and success.
It’s that time of year again. It’s a new year. It’s a blank sheet of paper, a fresh slate – a chance to make a mark. 
We’ve had the whirlwind of 2021 roundups. 

We’ve had the run of 2022 predictions. 

And we’ve seen the swathes of ‘new’ hitting the shelves – new products, new content, new brands. 
But let’s stop a minute. 
And let’s be honest. 
No one can predict the future, not least in times of global upheaval and change. No one really knows what’s going to happen tomorrow, let alone next month. 

And especially not what consumers will think/feel/do. 
We’ve seen it over the last few weeks alone, where we’ve gone from near-normal in many senses to back to incredible levels of uncertainty, lockdown-by-proxy and another Christmas on tenterhooks.
So this new year, rather than focussing on what’s new, next or shiny – short-term brand building distractions that do little other than raise immediate brand recognition – think instead to what really drives sustainable, long-term brand growth and success. And that’s winning the hearts and minds of your customers – both your current customers… but also those who don’t know about you yet. 
Focus in on your customers. Do you really, honestly know who they are post-covid? What they need? What drives them?
Because it’s probably changed.
Use this funny time to really get under the skin of what’s making them tick in 2022. 
Start with a blank sheet of paper. Divide it into customers, market and business. Make sure you can write in one line what you bring to each that’s different, better, or unique:

What is it you bring to your customers that is different to anything else?
What makes you better than your competition?
And what is it about your business that is unique or a point of differentiation?

Dig out all the research, thinking, work that’s already been done on customers and re-read it with fresh eyes. Does it make sense? Are there key insights that no longer resonate that you might be making critical brand and business decisions on every day? 
And finally – it’s time to really understand what drives behaviour in a (post?) COVID world, how the competition has changed, and where your brand sits in amongst it all. Gold standard is of course, go and ask your customers. Do some new research. Re-assess what you know. Re-look at relevant cultural trends and media/social activity. Re-appraise what your competitors are up to and what new products or services they’ve launched. There couldn’t be a better time to do it.

This New Year, don’t add to the noise – use the time to re-engage with what you have, reset and really focus on realigning for the new normal, whenever that eventually decides to grace us with its presence. 

About the author:

Victoria is the Strategy Director at CreativeRace, having previously been a Strategy Director at London-based Clear M&C Saatchi where she led strategic projects for large, global clients including Disney, Prudential, GSK. Prior to that she worked at a variety of brand strategy agencies including BrandCap and Kantar, as well as in management consulting at Deloitte.