Brand resilience in the face of adversity

When that meteor comes, don't weather the storm, dance in it

It’s the nature of the beast…

Brands, like their human counterparts, occasionally find themselves in hot water. Sometimes, they get to choose their battleground; other times, the battleground chooses them. But the question remains: when do you square up, and when do you pivot faster than a ballet dancer avoiding a rogue banana peel on stage?

Let’s dive into this conundrum, and take a look at some brands that have faced their own brand crises and either decided to ‘stand and fight‘ or ‘pivot and take flight‘. Armed with these lessons, you’ll be ready to face your brand’s Waterloo with grace, wit, and the strategic acumen of a grandmaster chess player. So buckle up, hold onto your brand guidelines, and let’s get started.

Standing ground: Volkswagen’s ‘Dieselgate’

Remember Dieselgate? It’s hard not to. It was the scandal that made us question our faith in charmingly accented car commercials. In 2015, Volkswagen was caught red-handed cheating on emissions tests, causing an uproar and a significant hit to its brand reputation.

Volkswagen’s response? They stood their ground. But this wasn’t a stubborn refusal to change or admit wrongdoing. Rather, they embraced their mistake, apologised profusely, and invested billions into electric vehicle development, effectively turning their diesel lemons into a lemonade-powered EV revolution.

The lesson here: sometimes, standing your ground doesn’t mean refusing to change — it means owning your errors and using them as a catalyst for positive transformation.

Pivot and flight: Blockbuster’s Standoff

Blockbuster, the former king of movie rentals, gives us a textbook example of when a pivot was desperately needed, but tragically never came. As digital streaming started to gain traction, Blockbuster doubled down on its brick-and-mortar model instead of evolving with the times.

The result: a tragic fall from grace. The once-iconic brand is now a case study in what not to do. The pivot was there, staring them in the face, yet they chose to stand and fight a battle that was already lost.

The moral: know your battlefield. Understand the trends and shifts in your industry. If the winds of change are blowing, it might be time to hoist the sail, rather than stubbornly digging your heels in.

Web3 and the creator economy: the new battlefield

In the era of web3, blockchain, and the creator economy, brands face new challenges. They need to navigate this new landscape while maintaining their authenticity, and they must do so in a way that resonates with increasingly savvy and discerning consumers.

Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies offer a wealth of opportunities for brands, but they also present unique risks. A poorly thought out pivot could harm a brand’s reputation, while a failure to adapt could leave it behind in the dust.

In the face of these challenges, the choice between standing ground and pivoting becomes even more critical. Brands must carefully weigh the benefits of adopting these new technologies against the potential risks and backlash.

The cultural imperative

The stakes are high, and the choices made by brands in these moments of adversity are more than just strategic decisions — they’re reflections of understanding, adaptability, and cultural awareness. Why does this matter? Because culture drives behaviour, and understanding culture allows brands to capture the attention and loyalty of their audiences.

Brands that understand their audience’s culture and values can create messages that resonate, campaigns that captivate, and products that truly meet needs. In the face of adversity, this understanding becomes even more crucial — it informs whether to stand firm and weather the storm or to pivot and chart a new course.

In conclusion, whether to stand firm or pivot is not a decision to be made lightly. The answer lies in an intricate dance of understanding your brand’s values, recognizing the cultural currents of your audience, and being attuned to the technological and economic transformations around us. Brands that master this dance will not only survive in the face of adversity, they will thrive, leading the way into the future.

A recent example is AAG Ventures, a company dedicated to facilitating the transition from Web2 to Web3. Instead of shying away from the scepticism surrounding blockchain and Web3, they leaned into it. They recognized a gap in understanding and sought to bridge it, providing tools and resources to help individuals and companies participate in the Web3 economy. Their approach shows the importance of understanding cultural shifts and audience behaviour. They stood their ground in the face of scepticism and are now at the forefront of educating and onboarding the world into the Web3 economy​​.

In short, brand resilience is about more than mere survival. It’s about understanding the terrain, knowing when to stand your ground, and when to pivot. It’s about understanding culture and leveraging it to capture the audience’s attention. It’s about taking adversity and turning it into an opportunity for growth and innovation.

So, when that meteor moment comes, you’ll be ready. You won’t just weather the storm, you’ll dance in it.

Featured image: Viktorya Sergeeva 🫂 / Pexels

Arnt Eriksen, Creative Alchemist, Author and Change Maker

Arnt Eriksen is a highly acclaimed B2B2C Marketing Executive with a reputation that spans across the globe. With a knack for enhancing brand equity in highly competitive industries and propelling market growth in commoditised environments, his expertise shines particularly in luxury, lifestyle, retail, fintech, and Web3 verticals.Eriksen's international background, having lived and worked in the Nordics, Europe, and the UK, fuels his passion for transforming and scaling global brands. His unique understanding of cultural influence on behaviour makes him an invaluable asset in the world of marketing.Renowned as a balanced left and right-brain creative alchemist, his problem-solving approach seamlessly melds strategic thinking with innovative narratives, leading to the creation of holistic marketing plans that yield disruptive results. His formidable portfolio includes collaborations with notable global brands such as Google, Meta, Visa, Paypal, American Express, Domino’s, Instagram, Coco-Cola, Vista Jet, Pringles, Liverpool FC, Gemini, and LagoFrame, to name a few.Eriksen excels in meeting commercial challenges that call for a fusion of creative and analytical thinking, adept at bridging traditional methods with unconventional solutions. He is regarded as a thought-leader and subject matter expert in the realms of conceptual marketing, social media, the Creator Economy, Web3, crypto, and Blockchain's potential impact on brands and people. In 2021, he further solidified his position as an authority in the field with the publication of his book, "Brand You Economics". A contribution from Eriksen promises a dynamic blend of insight, innovation, and influence, sure to leave a lasting impression.

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