Five minutes with Stuart Wood
Stuart Wood, partner and creative director at London-based design agency, Missouri Creative, spoke to Transform magazine about how brands can re-imagine their brand portfolios and positioning to remain relevant with consumers.
What makes a brand relevant?
Customers make a brand relevant. What a brand cares about, its (potential) customers need to care about. Put simply, it’s all about understanding your audience; what motivates them, how and why they engage, what triggers action and what they say about you when you’re not in the room. Some brands clamour for attention and never really cut through, whilst others keep on doing what they believe in and customers flock to them. Don’t make the mistake of replacing being fashionable with being relevant - it doesn’t matter if your brand is the most culturally connected, shiniest, hip new rebrand on the block, if there isn’t a deep understanding of what your brand is really about and why people buy it, you’ll just end up looking like your dad dancing at a disco.
How can brands reimagine their positioning to remain relevant with consumers?
Focus. A clear and single-minded proposition that connects with a defined and distinct target consumer. That doesn’t mean a bloody-minded approach at the expense of iteration or the more common ‘spray and pray’ tactics of brands that look like they’re panicking. Real positionings aren’t built in Power Point templates, they are built in the minds of your audience - over time. They can be nuanced, tweaked, and refined but without that focus and discipline they will never really connect the way some of their competitors might.
How have consumer attitudes changed in the past decade and where does that leave brands?
Big question but I think the answer lies in the shifting balance of power – historically it was brand to consumer, now it’s consumer to brand. Just over 10 years ago Instagram and Pintrest launched, the year after Picaboo rebranded to Snapchat and the following year Facebook announced a billion users. As they say, ‘You do the math’. People have a voice and an outlet to interact with brands directly and on their own terms. Got a problem with a service – Tweet it. Love your new sneakers - unbox them on Tik Tok. Being bullied by a beer brand – call time on LinkedIn. Brands are now ours, not theirs.
Do brands have to rethink their portfolios to fit into a post-pandemic world?
I don’t think the solution to success in a post-pandemic world starts with readjusting your portfolio. I believe it starts with understanding what learnt behaviours over the past 18 months will continue and what will be dropped as quickly as a Friday night Zoom pub quiz. For example, the home delivery and home entertainment channels aren’t going anywhere soon – according to a recent study by KPMG, the average monthly spend on home delivery pre-pandemic was £38, post-pandemic its now a whopping £53. Insight and understanding and a degree of informed foresight means that brands need to look at the entire marketing mix; do you have the right portfolio and product offer, and is it reaching the right audience in the right places? Well, that’s my final take-away. At least until the weekend.