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Brand Rebirth: How the right agency can help companies reincarnate

Stephanie Johnson

Vice President of Global Accounts, North America

Just like humans with no purpose feel lost, so can brands. And just like humans have a pulse—that special vibe that is all your own, so do brands.  

During the Coronavirus pandemic, like many Americans, I felt lost. Especially, when back-to-back tragedies struck my family–losing both my mom and big sister within 30 days of one another in early 2020 at the peak outbreak due to heart disease. The loss of two, family matriarchs, so suddenly at a time when the world was also losing its ability to physically connect was profoundly impactful. Perhaps my sudden feelings of emptiness and yearning for something more purposeful in my life was because so much of who I am is directly connected to my mom and big sister. While pushing through the pain of no longer having them in my life to help guide me that special way they always did, I gave myself permission to unplug and in doing so, I reconnected to my purpose. 

During those precious moments of quiet reflection, one thing became crystal clear. I wanted to make sure that any days I had left on this planet would be used to fulfill my destiny. As luck or perhaps timing would have it, around this same time I ended up connecting with an amazing recruiter at Hotwire on LinkedIn.  I always had a passion for working and collaborating in the tech space with legacy brands who at their core had purposed to help our society achieve the highest form of itself over and over. The recruiter helped me see that Hotwire was a place where I could do that. So, I tossed fear and caution to the wind and soon found myself like many others a part of “The Great Resignation.” Not because I didn’t love working for the company that had nurtured and helped me grow for the previous eight years, but because fulfilling my purpose would require me to chart new waters, and go where I had never gone before. I was ready.  

Through Hotwire, I reconnected to my purpose, to make the world a better place. I want to help brands recognize their potential and duty to do the same. Over the years, I’ve noticed a few elements that have to be addressed if you want your brand’s passion and purpose to be crystal clear to consumers:  

Acknowledge your Social Responsibility  

You can likely think of several non-profit organizations off the top of your head whose titles alone point back to their brand purpose. However, the list seems almost endless of brands that fail to truly link their purpose to their product or service offerings in a meaningful way. If you don’t know your companies “Why,” then it’s highly likely that your customers don’t either. With a growing number of the population seeking meaningful connections with the brands that they are loyal too—knowing not just what they are buying, but also what they are buying into, matters.  

Social issues that inevitability arise such as the #metoomovement and #BlackLivesMatter reveal how crucial decision-making on every single message that brands share, matters. Those brands that stood out during these movements seamlessly leveraged both their social and creative marketing campaigns to tap into the national conversation at the right time in a meaningful way. You can imagine if your campaigns are tone deaf due to improper planning and internal accountability, you risk losing your audiences and overall brand reputation — which can be difficult to bounce back. Brands that stood up were not only relevant to the national social conversation happening but in many cases were helping drive it in the middle of every unexpected disruption.  

Of course, there were many other brands that also profited strongly during the pandemic. But as the dust clears, we are starting to see that brands who don’t have a strong connection to their purpose are watching their profit margins slip significantly. So, the lesson should be clear. There is a big difference between customers buying out of necessity versus buying because of loyalty.  

Wake Up! The Job Market Has Changed 

According to Pew Research conducted following the Great Resignation that began in 2021 amid the Covid 19 pandemic, 57 percent of the workers surveyed who quit their jobs said that, “feeling disrespected,” was one of the top reasons for giving their company the boot. 

The Great Resignation taught us two things: 

  • People are pausing to reassess their lives and make pivots to gain alignment with their purpose and needs, and it’s a good thing.  
  • Brands can benefit from pausing to reassess alignment with their mission and it may require external support to get back on track. Also, a good thing. 

This is significant because it underscores why brand leadership must perform “gut checks.” We must take the time necessary to determine whether we have veered off course — or even worse, become stuck in a dying culture that isn’t attracting or retaining vibrant talent. Trust me, if your employees don’t feel connected to your purpose but rather disrespected by your lack of it, your brand reputation is in jeopardy, period! While poor leadership and poor work environments may yield initial results, over time without meaning or authentic impact on employee wellbeing, their luster and relevancy will soon disappear along with their best employees.  

How The Right Agency Supports Transformation 

It’s often in the midst of a crisis when critical transformation occurs, which makes it an ideal time to invest in creativity. Like humans, brands can turn a crisis into a transformational moment by pausing and “cleansing” where necessary—getting back to their true purpose for being. This requires looking beyond data and the bottom line and connecting with consumers in ways that matter — evoking action and positive change. Enlisting the right agency provides a wealth of creativity and support across multiple business verticals along with diverse skillsets to yield greater results and impact.