What does ‘Brexit’ mean for branding?


Beating Brexit blues through branding

Apparently Brexit means Brexit, but what does that actually mean? And more importantly, what does that mean for people in Britain? So far it’s meant uncertainty, confusion and a fair dose of disillusionment — not just for consumers, but for brands and businesses as well.

We still don’t know where the UK is heading and whether it will be for better or for worse. We’re at a point where people need reassurance, hope and clarity, something that politicians seem unable to provide. Never has there been a more opportune time for brands to step up to the mark and show their worth beyond their product or service. Those with the flexibility and resourcefulness to adapt to uncertainty, and offer the comfort and security that consumers crave, will be well served.

Choosing sides

The Brexit debate has divided our nation, and from the ashes of this turmoil, people are trying to understand where they stand. Who represents them best? Who can they relate to? Who has their values and interests at heart? Consumers are looking for answers, and to find people, groups and ideas to identify with. Where many feel that they are not being represented by the political system, brands are able to offer stability and reassurance. Those that do, could drive engagement and thrive even in the most difficult of times.

Bouncing back post-Brexit

The Financial Times (FT) saw Brexit as an opportunity to strengthen brand image and widen readership. During the week preceding the vote on June 23rd, it made all referendum related content free to access so that even non-subscribers could turn to the publication for guidance and feel included in the debate. By allowing consumers access to this content, the FT conveyed a message of unity and understanding,  a belief that this was information that everyone had a right to know so that they could make an educated decision.

The FT also launched an emotive multi-platform campaign entitled ‘A Star is Torn’, which launched across social media channels, retail outlets and digital touch-points. The stirring creative further struck a chord with audiences and emphasised the strong, unified message that the FT had been expressing throughout the referendum period. The campaign generated over 800,000 impressions and over 50,000 video views, showing markedly increased interest in the brand. Darcy Keller, senior vice-president of communications and marketing at the Financial Times puts this down to the speed and agility in which the publication reacted to peoples’ concerns around the vote and the strong, consistent messaging that all FT departments conveyed.

An authentic voice

In its latest post-Brexit campaign, Nationwide Building Society expressed a simple and emotive message of care and unity as the brand championed the voices of ordinary people in relatable situations, such as becoming a mum, feeling lonely, and finding a place to call home. In three short films, Nationwide featured speaking poets whose stories would speak to the nation on a personal and meaningful level. The message? We understand you. We understand your struggles. We’re on your side.

This campaign is far removed from the polished view of life that is often conveyed by the financial services industry and shows an authenticity that was particularly poignant post-Brexit. It also crystallised Nationwide’s identity as a caring and compassionate bank that exists ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’; this clarity helps make the brand memorable and identifiable, and is particularly effective in times of public uncertainty.

Uplifting the nation

Budget airline easyJet responded to Brexit induced turmoil with an aspirational and uplifting campaign that aimed to reignite consumer confidence. The campaign posed the inviting question ‘Why not?’ and went live across video-on-demand, cinema, print, digital and out-of-home. It was a “deliberate feel-good act demonstrating our brand values and benefits”, says easyJet’s group commercial director, Peter Duffy. “After any difficult incident, there is a reduction in consumer confidence and sales”, says Duffy, speaking after both the referendum and instances of terrorism in Germany and France were taking their toll on consumers, “it takes a set of marketing activities to stimulate the market again”. EasyJet’s consistently fun and positive tone supports the brand’s aim to ‘lead customers through difficult times’ with inspiring and uplifting content, offering customers a breath of fresh air within a somewhat stale social climate.

Fulfilling brand purpose

The above examples show that in order to thrive despite consumer uncertainty, brands need to offer much more than their product or service. They need a purpose, an authentic calling and a sense of identity that can be conveyed with utmost clarity. Brands have the power to create communities of like-minded people who will unite over a shared vision and values, particularly in times of social and political uncertainty. Therefore messaging must resonate with audiences on a deeper level, now more than ever.

How can brands thrive post-Brexit?

  • Understand your audience — what are their concerns? What will help them feel better?

  • Offer stability and consistency in your messaging — be a rock in times of uncertainty

  • Inspire and uplift — provide aspirational content that will free audiences from post-Brexit malaise

  • Provide a strong and relatable identity and make this consistent across all marketing channels

  • Be ready to adapt and be resourceful — agility is vital when the future appears unclear.

The polls have shown that we are a nation divided; many do not feel fairly represented. Now is the time for brands to champion consumer voices and bring people together. To do this, they must truly understand who they are talking to and offer the appropriate clarity and reassurance. Marketers need to understand the effects of social upheaval on the consumer mind-set and adapt to changing market conditions in order to maintain engagement levels. A relatable identity and social cause — over and above product or service — will particularly appeal to consumers in the current climate. With this, businesses are able to continue fulfilling their brand purpose, and live on through uncertainty.

We love to hear your brand stories, so if you are interested in discussing the future of your brand or marketing strategy, contact us here at Beyond for more information.