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

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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.
    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.

    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

Good things take time (unfortunately).

I have tried, and failed, god knows how many times to cook sausages for the adult portion of my life.
And I know why.
I rush it.
Every. Single. Sizzling. Time.

I think my partner and I have avoided close calls with salmonella at least eleventy thousand times now. I just can’t stand to wait around for the little logs to toast themselves right through. Personally, I’m all for the simple steak – blast your pan as hot as the devil’s infurnace, chuck them on for literally ten seconds each side and Bob’s your uncle. But sausages? Oh no, put them on, progress from childhood, through to buying a house, popping out a few kids and then by the time you’re ready to pack your bags and move into a retirement home they might be ready. Might being the operative word.

Aside from the key lesson that you should never research what is actually in a sausage, these BBQ favourites have also taught me an important lesson in life – that good things take time.

And they also take a certain mindset. One of perseverance. One of persistence and one of painstaking patience.

If there’s one saying that I hate the most it’s that ‘Patience is a virtue’. I’ve spent the most part of my life trying to prove this theory wrong. I live and die by the motto that impatience is actually more of a virtue. Hell, last time I sat around and waited for something to happen, it just simply, didn’t.

I recently spent a week of solitude down the coast with nothing but my laptop, my dog and great hopes / plans to get a tonne of writing done. Yet, for the first time in my working life, I really struggled to make any headway.

I’m not sure whether the anaesthetised vibe of the area got to me or whether my adrenals had finally called it a day. But I just simply could not get it together.

And I think I know why. It comes back to the sausages. I’d forgotten that good things take time. I’d put all this pressure on myself to take the week off and smash out the most part of a brand new ebook.

Oh girl. Stop right there. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

My last ebook took my contributors and I almost a year to write. And here I was gallivanting down the coast thinking I could smash out the next one in a week. What a big fat LOL!

But really, can you blame me? We live in a world of snack-sized information: the 15 second insta story, the 25 word elevator pitch, even my Dad chooses to leave all conjoining words out of his messages for the sake of word economy, rendering his language a certain kind of broken English.

It’s 2018 and we’ve well and truly come to expect turbo results, quick-fixes and overnight success. And apparently, 40,000 word ebooks in a week.

So here I am, with only a few chapters of my ebook complete. I’m taking a deep breath in, slowing down and reminding myself that good things take time. Here’s how I’m going about it, please join me…

    Whilst I certainly believe that in business, it’s the fast who eat the slow, not the big who eat the small, I do not condone working to the speed of the hampster dance song under any circumstance. If that song doesn’t give you nervous sweats and an increased heart rate then I don’t believe you to be human. Slow down, do one thing at a time and be present with your work.
    Turns out we are all too much of a rush to get to places, do the next thing, tick the boxes and do it all with a smile on our dial, a calm mind and a green juice in our hand. Our standards and the pressures we put on ourselves are so unbelievably high. Right yourself a note, forge your own signature and grant yourself an extension.
    Modern society can be irrationally over-zealous, and trying to persuade someone to only do one thing at a time – rather a bajillion tasks at once – can be like trying to stop a 6 year old from overdosing on Easter Eggs by explaining that the Easter Bunny would prefer him not to have high blood pressure and cavities.
    Taking your time is no longer just a sweet little creed your mum urged you to follow so you could colour neatly between the lines, it’s rapidly becoming the only way to successfully do your job. Taking your time means questioning why you are doing the task in the first place and ensuring that your output is actually of value.
    Technology is great. But don’t use automation to free up your time only to cram that free-time with more things to do. Use automation to rid yourself of unnecessary complexities, protecting your business (and self) from burnout. But be discerning with your new found time.
    Don’t play victim to your own life. Whether it feels like it or not, you are very much in charge of your time. What you do with the hours in your day is entirely up to you! It’s too easy to slip into martyr mode and crack the whip on ourselves for fear of ‘slacking off’.
    You’re allowed to pause from going full throttle every once in a while. Especially if you’re anything like me and you’ve been peddling yourself up a steep-ass hill for so g-damn long. It turns out that if you ease off, you might actually find you’ve still got enough momentum to roll you down the other side. And maybe, just maybe, there is more wisdom in ease than we realise.
    If you get lost in biz-know-how on the internet you’ll soon find yourself wading through the ‘more’ trend that promotes diversification, multiple income streams, and complex business models. It’s the land of plenty. But instead of overextending ourselves, I think we need to shift to a simpler business model. After all, “Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.” — C. W. Ceran

Image credit: Mother Design