Why Brands That Embrace Change Win

January 23, 2024

present future head

There’s no doubt that 2024 will come with its challenges. But every year brings on its own version of big change. The knee-jerk reaction from brands right now may be to play it safe. But there’s another way to view the coming year and its challenges: an unprecedented set of opportunities.

The key is to recognize that there’s never a bad time for change. By adopting the right mindset brands can thrive regardless of economic cycles. They can meet the ever-evolving needs of customers and provide something better at a time when competitors may be complacent. As many businesses take a more wait and see approach, the companies that are seeking to innovate and embrace change have a unique opportunity to set themselves apart. Consumers are always open to a good idea, and most want to do business with bold brands that aren’t afraid to make big moves that offer them a better alternative. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how to face an uncertain future because, well, the future is always uncertain.

There is no time like the present

There are plenty of internal barriers to change. For example, loss aversion leads brands to double down on failed strategies in which they’ve already made substantial investments, while confirmation bias can lead brands to search for evidence that supports the status quo instead of experimenting with new products and forms of customer engagement. Additionally, brands can religiously focus on their traditional success metrics, keeping them stuck in old patterns and practices. These barriers may be bigger during periods of economic uncertainty as brands are already primed to be cautious, but they are always present. That’s why we believe changing your present is the best way to change, and own, your future.

At ChangeUp, we challenge brands to avoid these psychological traps by simply acknowledging them. Then, develop a strategy that searches for opportunities to disrupt the status quo as a matter of corporate culture – a new present. The state of the economy is a factor, but not a negative one. In fact, it’s usually a trigger for unwelcomed change. After all, pain is a signal for action, and when sales or profits are at risk there is motivation to act- so why not act with a proactive versus reactive mindset? We push our clients to be change-oriented, adopting a new present mindset that pays future dividends, recognizing that all circumstances present a chance for innovation and growth. Many groundbreaking companies were started during recessions –Uber, Airbnb, Warby Parker, and even Trader Joe’s to name a few. This is a critical reminder that economic uncertainty can’t suppress great ideas and even greater execution.

Start thinking like a start-up

ChangeUp exists to help brands unlock the types of change that will yield the biggest impact on their business, as well as power them into the future with renewed excitement and focus. The process starts with understanding your customers, the marketplace, and your employees, and gaining insights on what you stand for, and what you could offer that is better than what is available today. Does this sound like a start-up mentality? That’s because it is.  A start-up mentality is the correct way to face change because start-ups exist in the present, but their focus is always on a different and better future.

The why and the wow

Powerful insights, honest introspection, and the courage to act are the first steps to addressing the uncertainty that precedes change. This philosophy happens to be in our DNA. It’s where having a start-up mentality involves taking a big picture view, that is, why does your brand exist in the first place? This emphasis on why can lead us on a path to change by clarifying what is at the core of your relevance. It is also important to evoke the founding vision- if not to reinvigorate it then to reimagine it. The why question, while seemingly lofty, will unlock differentiation, and provide the framework for everything your brand lives and breathes. By the way, we are not talking about a “squishy” purpose statement, but a business-driven, consumer-proposition type of why. Importantly, the why must factor in the desired response from your customers, prospects, and employees. At the core of a brand’s why is a belief system; rooted in what you say you are, yet defined by what you do. Words need to result in deeds, which is the eventual wow we create to spearhead meaningful change.

When you can capture your why, you have a clear vision which allows you to set yourself apart. But actual change is a result of action, which is the wow. The wow represents the actions and experiences that propel your brand from being a business that serves customers to being one that creates and unites advocates externally and internally. The wow is more than a visual representation of your brand, it is the profound and memorable feeling that your brand delivers when consumers and employees experience what you provide. Moreover, they are the touchpoints that influence the emotional reasoning “why you” now and in the future. And in the future that is the key idea. Having a compelling why and a breakthrough wow can both condition customers to expect ongoing meaningful change from your brand and motivate your people to seek and deliver it. Applying why and wow is embracing the spirit of a start-up: creating a present that focuses on change as a constant way forward to the future.

At ChangeUp, our motto is raise the bar. Business requires change: it is the fuel that drives growth. But facing the future, regardless of the economic circumstances, can take two forms- changing up or catching up. That’s where raising the bar comes in- thriving versus surviving. We look forward to what 2024 brings for ourselves, our clients, and those brands we haven’t met but hope to bring our passion to in the future. Any and every future.