Communications play a critical role throughout a brand’s lifecycle. From the early stages of business, communications teams are entrusted with establishing a company’s narrative, projecting its vision, formulating the tone and personality of the brand and introducing it to key audiences.
There is also a rapid sequence of communications activities early on—news releases and launches, public events, media coverage and a rich assortment of content—to build buzz around the brand or shine a spotlight on leadership, making the product admired and highly sought after. But this initial communications strategy where volume and “buzz” play a primary role typically does not sustain as the business and brand matures, evolves, and grows.
Consider some of the world’s most acclaimed and iconic brands in the tech and consumer markets. Organizations like Apple and Google, both giants of the tech industry, have transformed from intense rates of public exposure to implementing more calculated communications strategies to help maintain, preserve and protect the prestige of their carefully built brands. This is because great organizations understand that as their businesses and brands grow and evolve, so does their audience—and thus, so should the way they communicate. The same communications strategies and tactics that may have helped build your company’s brand early on will inevitably need refinement.
Recognizing the Shift
There are countless cautionary tales of brands not recognizing the shift in their audience. Take Peloton, a brand that was a media darling and reached celebrity notoriety during the run-up to its IPO. In just a couple of years, the highly-praised fitness brand’s acclaim had soured—thanks in part to a tone-deaf campaign during the holiday season.
As a business matures, it is critical for communications leaders to recognize any “shift” in their audience, market or brand. For Peloton, the overlooked expansion of their market and sociological shifts in society allowed its sexist holiday commercial to make the airwaves. Teams that can identify these shifts and reboot communication strategies—operational procedures, workflows and success metrics—with new and often nuanced communications goals will succeed in avoiding PR catastrophes.
In the end, businesses that shift with their brand and audience, working to redirect communications efforts to focus on preserving and protecting their now well-established brands, will position themselves for continued market growth and longevity.