Why now is the time to better your brand.

I am all too aware of the tragedy COVID-19 has caused the world over. The sheer scale and enormity of this crisis isn’t lost on me for one second.

However, in spite of the human health concerns and economic calamity, it’s important to recognise this crisis as an opportunity for growth and innovation across all aspects of our lives.

By definition, a crisis is caused by a major, temporary change. And as is always the cyclic pattern of life, death gives way to birth and destruction leads to creation. As they say, when something falls apart, that leaves room for a new beginning.

I’m currently reading ‘Simplicity Parenting’, by Kim John Payne. It’s a fascinating approach to parenting which asserts that children need time to be bored, as this is where creativity is bred. And I feel like we can all relate to this concept now as adults amidst a global lockdown. We’ve seen it in our (pre-pandemic) ‘past’ lives – when we’re buried in our own busyness and caught up in the daily chaos, we so often miss the opportunities and moments for ideation, innovation and creation. Just like our kids, us adults need stillness, space and a degree of boredom to be able to think creatively and expansively.

A crisis of this scale – not to mention a degree of boredom felt in self-isolation – presents major opportunity for growth, creativity and innovation. And we’re seeing it already, only weeks in. Brands across the globe traversing all industries are pivoting, reinventing and recalibrating to this new normal with grace, gusto and a strong inclination for long-lasting, well received transformation.

So, let’s talk about the ways in which you could use this time to stop and take stock, adopt a growth mindset and build out your brand for the better.

Get clarity on your mission.

As brand builders, we often get caught up in the day-to-day busyness, meaning the clarity of our brands’ core mission tends to fade into the shadows. Great brands – those building and equipping for longevity – are using this time to thoughtfully and strategically revisit and rethink their long-term trajectory and foundational brand purpose. They are looking to refine and distil their brand DNA and positioning, and tighten up their aligning comms and key messaging.

This crisis is a time for brands to reconnect with their core purpose, focus on what really matters, and embrace the opportunity to pursue business goals in a more meaningful, principle-driven way.

Develop a 3-6 month action plan.

Our brand plans for 2020 will absolutely need to be adjusted to accommodate the turbulence that is COVID-19. If you haven’t already, it’s imperative that you develop a plan for what the next 3-6 months will look like for your brand. This includes an overarching strategy, positioning, promotions, marketing opportunities and considerations for the unknown.

Consider ways you can adapt your offering to the current climate, whilst also anticipating changes in your customer behaviour as we move through the stages of this pandemic and what that means for consumers on a daily basis. Consider ways in which you might expand your offering to cater for what your customer truly needs during this crisis. This is a time for brands to take more risks and play a little outside their comfort zone, saying yes to opportunities they perhaps normally wouldn’t.

At Smack Bang we are building out 3-6month Brand Action Plans with our clients to ensure they survive, thrive and ride the momentum this crisis has to offer. We’re providing key insights, creative and opportunistic ideas to prove their value, ways to do good business that warrants lasting longevity and the ability to outshine their competitive counterparts. It’s about understanding the unique role our clients’ brands play in their consumers’ lives, how that has now changed, and how they can be of utmost value during this crisis.

Build community and connection

As humans, we’re programmed to seek out connection. While social distancing measures are absolutely imperative right now, they come with significant impact on individuals, communities and the world at large. Your audience is looking for alternative ways to fill this void and are connecting in ways they’ve never had to before. It’s a great time for brands to be supporting this notion, extending their reach and building true, genuine and lasting connection with their community.

Think about how you could extend your offerings to reach more people, how you could adapt your services to give deeper and more added value. What comms could you release that show how much you genuinely care and want to support your customer. If there was ever a time to go above and beyond for your customer, it’s during a serious crisis.

It’s important though, to consider ways you can connect on a more meaningful level, not just starting conversation for conversation’s sake. Think about ways you can rally your troops around purposeful concepts or thought-provoking ideas. How could you rally your community together to collectively give back in some way? Remember, how you deal with this crisis and the ways in which you support your customer through this will shape their view of you well beyond the end of this calamity.

Seize the social

There’s no denying social media proved its worth long before this crisis, but now, we’re realising its unparalleled value once again. As people are locked down with more time on their hands than ever, social platforms are seeing a huge increase in usage, engagement and overall growth. Brand engagement has never been higher. Instagram and Facebook have reported a 40% usage increase, with doubled ‘Live’ views and a 20% increase in stories’ impressions (source). The influencer agency (Obvious.ly) which analysed more than 7.5 million Instagram posts and data from 2,152 TikTok influencers, found a 76% increase in daily accumulated likes on Instagram #ad posts over the last two weeks. These stats are staggering, and if they don’t spur you into content action, then I’m not sure what will.

As we know, social is key to gaining and maintaining consumer connection. Make sure your present and pursuing content that creates compelling conversation, giving your brand the best opportunity to connect authentically with your audience.

Elevate your digital experience

Alongside social, there’s been an obvious and expected increase for ecommerce across the board with a reported 32% increase in online shopping, in stark contrast to a 35% decrease in bricks and mortar retail outlet shopping (source: Doyle Dane Bernbach). This acceleration of digitisation, as nations adopt self-isolation policies, shows how rapidly businesses can (and should!) be fulfilling customer demands online. We’ve seen a big shift to brands investing in their online experiences during this crisis, and rightly so.

At Smack Bang, we are adamant that a brand cannot and should not create an ecommerce platform without considering how their brand essence translates into an online experience.

Brand stories should be told, moods should be conveyed, and tone should remain authentic. Your online home should feel unique and relevant to the brand you’ve spent so long create in an offline space. The digital experiences we create are iconic to the brands themselves – a distinctive digital statement if you will.

Let’s face it, the proliferation of e-commerce, digital automation, virtual experiences, teleworking, and www enabled offerings are here to stay. COVID-19 is just the impetus to spring us into making the most of them.

Craft clever content

Use every opportunity of connection to support and serve your community, with your ‘sell’ very much being the secondary and more subtle sentiment.Be thoughtful about tone, sensitive to context and above all, just be human. Ensure you accommodate for the fear and anxiety that is felt by all, and communicate in a way that is not tone deaf to the situation.

As we navigate the intricacies of social distancing, content production may be a little more complex and time-consuming to create, but don’t let this stop you. With more eyeballs on your content than ever, it’s important you continue to develop strong, compelling and clever content. Although our process might be slightly altered, our photography studio is still creating content to ensure our clients don’t lose momentum. So, don’t be afraid to use this time to get creative. Be innovative with your content strategy and do something out of your comfort zone.

Image Credit: Jeff Hahn

Overcoming imposter syndrome.

Let’s start with a family-friendly game of Yes/No. Everyone got their paddles at the ready?

Do you spend countless hours scrolling through Instagram, unproductively? Do you find yourself constantly comparing your work to others in your industry? Are you are putting off creating something new because you are scared others are doing it better? Do you feel inferior?

If you’re playing along at home, holding up yes to all these questions, you are in fine company, my friend. Imposter syndrome does not discriminate, there are plenty of other fish out there who feel exactly the same. In a world where we are more connected than ever, constantly sharing our ‘highlight reel’ it is no surprise that our emotions can often feel like being pulled in each and every direction.

At its core, imposter syndrome is our fear of failure. Anytime we enter a new lane – whether it’s launching a product, returning to work after having a baby, or the emotional toll of creating a new piece of work, for some of us, fear shows up.

Imposter syndrome plagues even the most accomplished of folks. It changes your inner dialog making it easy for us to fall into the pity party trap and mourn over our ‘horrible lives’ without giving much thought to how blessed we really are. Our minds get so oversaturated with other’s work, lives, creativity, and successes that we can easily lose track of what it is we actually want to be doing. It’s distracting as hell and extremely unproductive. That’s why my mantra for this year and every year is ‘stay in your own g-damn lane’.

It’s a very common feeling like an imposter when starting anything new but we aren’t about to let this stop us. So, we are here to make sure you nib that green-eyed monster right in the butt to ensure you succeed in that next life venture – be it in business or otherwise.

  1. There’s no such thing as perfect
    Obsessive perfectionism is the arch-nemesis of productivity, second only to that pesking app on your phone that leaves you scrolling for hours. There is always room for growth and evolution but you won’t get the chance if you’re stuck in the ‘this isn’t good enough’ stage. So, just start and do what you can with what you’ve got. If you spend too much time overdoing everything to ensure it’s exactly right, you’ll never launch that product, write that blog post and you’ll certainly never enter your next face of business.
  2. Change your narrative
    You can’t blame Mercury in retrograde forever. It’s time to smarten up and reframe your mindset – redirect that negative attitude elsewhere. We tend to fall into a pattern of ‘what if’ scenarios rather than focusing on the potential of something. There’s some pretty powerful force behind manifesting – bare with us on this. When asking our mind to believe we’ve already achieved our goals and desires, our energy attracts its likeness – meaning we are then able to attract this goal or desire into our reality. Over the years, I’ve learned to tune out the noise and take leaps ahead anyway. This will allow you to approach things with a growth mindset and let me tell you, that will set your soul (and business) on fire.
  3. Create before you consume
    When you are stuck in other people’s thoughts, it’s hard to get clarity on your own. It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing but self-doubt is the sinister art of putting things on the back burner and the more you consume the more you second guess yourself. It’s a vicious little cycle. So, just get all your ideas down without being swayed by others work. Own your seat at the table, stop comparing yourself to others and stay on your own highway.
  4. You do you
    When it comes to putting your work out in the world, usually, it’s ego and self-doubt that get in the way of kicking major goals. But when we focus on our own process, we aren’t as bothered or distracted by what others are doing. Who cares if your competitor launches that same new service as you, or writes a similar blog. Look to your own work as a benchmark of progress and growth and feel confident in the work you are putting out there without worrying about others. As long as you know you’re doing the best you can and that is good enough, so go easy on yourself.
  5. Keep learning, keep growing, keep investing
    It’s time to get comfortable in the uncomfortable and embrace every opportunity with a grain of salt. Without continual growth you become stagnant — so ask for that feedback, make some changes, improve your skill set, learn, grow, repeat. Invest time in your creativity and building your confidence. And leaders, the same go for your staff. Empower them and allow them to grow, because let me tell ya – when they thrive, your business thrives #simples.
  6. Find inspiration in all aspects of life
    It’s time to get re-inspired. Get off social media and into something worthwhile. Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break from whatever hole you feel stuck in. If this is the case, take time out for yourself and immerse in things that will inspire and refresh you. Trawl through Pinterest, read a new book, listen to a podcast, get outside. You’d be surprised how much you can create and conceptualise when you’re left alone with your thoughts.
  7. Accept what you cannot control
    When you are faced with that little hint of imposter syndrome, accept that this is often just a sign of growth, stepping out of your comfort zone and leveling up. And surrendering to it can be liberating. Everyone is working on their own clock and as much as you’ll want to look to others for inspiration, your path and pace is entirely your own. So, when the going gets tough, just remember you are going to step out the other side of your metamorphosis, leaving your cocoon to fly will levels of confidence that rival the likes of Kanye. Go and get, my friends.

Image credit: Michele Salati

How to communicate a rebrand with grace and gusto

Do you ever have those thoughts of ‘Thank GOD I don’t have that haircut anymore?’ Like when I look back at photos from the early 2000s and realise that I had a peroxide blonde mullet? #nojoke

Or looking back at that dreadful 90s outfit you donned as a kid and thank your lucky stars that you’re actually somewhat fashionable now? (Thanks for the polka dot leotard with matching scrunchie mum!)

Or realising that you once drove a 1991 rusty Nissan Pulsar that was rustier than a tin shed and feeling ever so grateful for your sleek new Volkswagen Tiguan.

I love discovering little life hacks like that that fill you with newfound self-confidence.

I get this feeling when I look back at the Smack Bang logo circa 2011.

At the time I had a sickly obsession with bright turquoise green – like the kind of green you need sunnies on to look at. Our logo had a bright green circle behind it that felt like the nightclub lights turning on when it was time to head home and, in retrospect, fills me with the same kind of anxiety.

(Let it also be known that I even painted one of our studio walls this colour. I’m not sure what I thinking, but the creative juices were obviously really starting to fire up.)

When I compare that ‘brand’ to our now slick, sexy and sophisticated brand, I am elated with confidence, clarity and a massive sense of relief.

The power of a rebrand, no matter how big, can be truly business-transforming. 

I recently fell down the rabbit hole that is our rather juicy archive of projects. I got all the way from A to M (and only aged a few years in the process), and stumbled across our designs for one of our most treasured clients, Mukti. Sifting through the files in that folder sure was a trip down memory lane. When Mukti first came to us, her beautiful formulations were trapped inside outdated little bottles that no longer reflected the quality and greatness of where she wanted her brand to be. We’ve worked with Mukti over the last 5 years to reposition and alchemise her brand from bland to grand and have since rebranded almost every aspect of her business. It has been one of the most satisfying projects to date because we’ve seen first-hand what an impact a refresh and repositioning can have on a business’ bottomline.

In Mukti’s case, a rebrand was necessary to encourage growth and clarify their services,

“I wanted our brand to be cleaner and less pigeon-holed as a
hippy-boho-natural-organic brand. I want to be taken seriously
as a global contender – an organic skincare brand that delivers real results.”

The Mukti rebrand and repositioning is just one of many projects where we’ve had the pleasure of playing make-over magic and helping our clients reap the rewards of a refresh.

I’ve written about why to rebrand and how to rebrand before, but I haven’t shared how to communicate a rebrand to your audience. A rebrand, when done for the right reasons, is a surefire way to get positive alignment for your brand, both externally and internally.

Here are my six golden rules to revealing a rebrand to an existing audience without losing your street cred.

  1. BE TRANSPARENT.
    When a company rebrands, there’s always the fear that your existing audience will feel alienated or confused by the change. The biggest fear Mukti had when it came to rebranding was exactly that:

    “I was scared that if it was radically different our customers may not
    recognise the brand. But I believe my approach to business has evolved
    and matured. I do my best not to be attached and to be open to others
    input and advice. Sometimes letting go is hard especially if decisions are taken
    out of your hands but in order to grow you have to take the leap of faith,
    experience a little discomfort and jump into the void.”

    We often find that when our clients are more vocal and transparent about the reasons for their rebrand, their customers aren’t alienated at all, and in many cases step up to offer their encouragement and support. If you’re transparent with your audience about why you’re rebranding, then there’s more potential for them to get behind your mission and support you on your voyage.

  2. PLAY THE LONG GAME.
    The quickest way to lose customers through a rebrand is to implement your changes overnight, without a word of warning. This is particularly the case if your rebrand is a dramatic change from your old get-up.

    Back in 2010 GAP (or more officially, The Gap) did exactly this. One day they were the familiar old, preppy, GAP, and the next? Customers went to the company’s website expecting to see the familiar dark blue box and white name were met with a logo that left them confused. It was impossible to tell if this was even the same clothing store? It’s safe to say the rebrand was a complete flop, and within a matter of weeks they reverted back to their old branding *Command Z* and see-ya-later $100 million (that was an expensive mistake).

    Ensure you communicate your rebrand to your followers far in advance. Sit down with your team and come up with the a well-thought-out timing strategy to execute the evolution. If it happens too slowly, you’ll lose the impact and rewards of a rebrand. If it happens too fast, your customers will be confused and, most likely, resentful.

  3. GET ON THE SOAPBOX (ALL OF THEM).
    It’s essential to make use of every tool in the communications toolbox to let people know about your new positioning and new brand. Your blog, social media accounts, email and even mailing lists should all be included as you roll out your rebrand.

    Remember, that all of your followers connect with your brand in different ways, some people will learn of your refresh via social, but others will be more inclined to read a newsletter. Check that you cover all bases by getting up on all your different soapboxes to ensure all your party people are kept in the loop and reassured they’re going to get the same great products, services or dedication to mission that they’ve come to expect.

  4. DOUBLE WHAMMIES ARE WAY MORE FUN.
    When we launched our latest brand refresh and spankin’ new website at Smack Bang last year, we also launched an entire new portfolio collection. This was a great plan of action because it gave us a reason to talk to our audience about the rebrand and also gave people a reason to care. Using a double whammy is a great approach – for us, we saw an increase in traffic to our website and greater interest in our studio, because there was a better understanding of what we offered, and our audience weren’t only interested in the new look, but also had an opportunity to view all of our most recent work. Have a think about what kind of double-pronged approach you can use with a rebrand? It might be the release of a new collection, the addition of a new service, a brand spankin’ promo? Whatever it is, remember to articulate it clearly and give your people something to care about.
  5. DON’T DROP YOUR STANDARDS.
    Strategies, like being transparent and timely about your rebrand, go a long way toward retaining customers. But the best way to avoid a drop in business is to focus on maintaining excellent service, particularly during this transition time. During and after a rebrand is the best time to really assert your brand values, ensuring that your customer service is next level top-notch! By going the extra mile when you have all these extra eyeballs on you, your customers will feel like the rebrand was the best darn thing you ever did.

  6. TALE POLE POSITION.
    Assert your new brand positioning with confidence and clarity. Your approach should be reliable and genuine, not hand-deliver-a-thousand-cupcakes-level eager to explain every single design decision you made to get there. Ensure you and your team are onboard with the reasons why you’ve rebranded and get super-duper crystal clear on your brand values, mission and vision. By having a strong positioning on the DNA of your brand, you’ll be able to better communicate what the rebrand means for your customer. The more articulate, confident and succinct you are, the better your customers will be able to understand what the rebrand means for them.

Image credit: Joost Termeer

Long distance relationships… Who says they don’t work? (In fact, they happen to be our speciality!)

The single greatest thing about being an adult in the 21st Century would surely have to be the internet. I mean, who wouldn’t agree?

We can now learn how to calculate Pi by throwing frozen hot dogs, buy a life size wall decal of an asian businessman or take a moment to watch someone eat ice cream off their scalp. What a time to be alive.

The internet has fundamentally changed our world. For better or worse, I’m yet to decide. But there’s certainly no denying that it has simultaneously made our lives so much more efficient, and yet so much more convoluted.

Frankly, it’s a love/loathe relationship for most people. But when you get it right, technology can truly be your best friend. Smack Bang would not be the business it is today without technology, in particular our love-to-loathe friend, Zoom.

As it currently stands, we work with over 500 clients worldwide and have birthed 2,000+ projects in over 20 different countries.

Yesterday alone I went to four different countries (through my trusty phone). At 8am I had a meeting in Toronto about a new retail store opening up, at 10am it was a bakery in New Zealand, at 5pm it was a marketing agency in Copenhagen and then, early evening, it was a random 70 year old’s landline in Double Bay because I dialled the wrong number.

There really has never been easier to connect with our fellow globetrotters, so for anyone thinking about embarking on some cross-continental business relations, let us assure you how easy it is:

  1. Remote teams can be even more productive
    These days, the term ‘digital nomad’ gets thrown around like a trolley in a grocery store. As a founder, I actually steer the Smack Bang ship from 90 mins drive away from the majority of the Sydney team since moving to the tranquil South Coast. Meanwhile our Creative Strategist, Holly, plays her part from Bangalow NSW (a 9 hour drive or 1 hour flight away from our Surry Hills HQ). But we are all only ever a G-chat apart and now really think about agendas and outcomes before scheduling meetings, which has made them so much more effective.
  2. Online communities totally transcend borders
    So many of our – and no doubt your – favourite modern brands break down any concept of borders in their customer experience. A great meme, a great product or service, and a great heart can be a common denominator no matter where they come from. We now have direct access to fashion labels in LA, art galleries in Amsterdam, tech in Tel Aviv and pretty much anything/everything you desire through Ali Baba – all from the comfort from our own home, where they arrive on our doorsteps a few days later!
    Australian label, Spell, was born from the (then) small town of Byron Bay. Now its co-founder, Elizabeth, attests 70-80% of their business is purely via online store from every corner of the planet. Swapping local market stalls for blogging their earliest photoshoots catapulted their exposure from just the immediate geographic community to a whole wide web of global eyeballs – and wallets. Big thanks Kevin Systrom – we too owe you a beer!
  3. The creative landscape is well and truly ‘globalised’
    Less than 50% of the SBD audience are in fact based in Australia, the other 50% is made up of a colourful array of other countries around the world. US in second place and old Blightly is number three, followed by NZ, Canada and Germany. Danke schön!
    We recently learnt quite how wide-spread our people are while getting acquainted with the new GDPR changes in the EU. (Shout out to our buddies in Latvia and the lovely Anna who bought Baskk from the tiny island of Symi in Greece.)
  4. Distance makes the heart grow fonder
    There are a number of resources and tools we use to make interstate and international business work like a dream. Zoom aside, our top three must be Calendly, Dropbox and Google docs. All hail the cloud! So much so, many of our all-time favourite projects have been for international brands whose HQs are thousands of kilometres from our own. Namely, Ranavat Botanics (California), Evereden (NYC), One Fine Day (NZ), Mukti (Queensland), One Seed (SA), Fella Villas (Bali) and many more.

It’s safe to say that we are now living in the future, a time when chatting to someone on the other side of the world no longer requires a town crier, a pen and paper, a horse or a freight ship. Technology has advanced the pace of our communications and the sooner our business relationships can use it to our advantage, the better we’ll all be for it.

Chances are you may be reading this from another time zone – and even hemisphere. If so, please let us know where in the comments below. We love to hear from you, and even more, love to work together. You know where to find us!

Image credit: Kelsey McClellan