Just do it: Changing your brand narrative

Businesses must evolve in the digital world: A new narrative is required that better describes the new direction and the value delivered.

Businesses must evolve in the digital world: A new narrative is required that better describes the new direction and the value delivered.

Digital transformation has hit, change is accelerated, and leaders are challenged to reimagine business models to stay relevant. Those businesses that embrace transformation have evolved. They require a narrative that better describes the new direction and the value the business delivers.

In 2012, when most companies were just beginning their digital journey, Nike emerged as an industry leader. In an interview with Fast Company, CEO Mark Parker said, “The last thing we want is to be a big dumb company that feels we can put a swoosh on something and people will buy that.”

Narrative: just change it

While sneakers and apparel remained core, innovation became a foundation for doing business at Nike. Focussing on design, manufacturing and go-to-market channels was a break from the past that shifted Nike’s business, and its story.

Such significant change can be risky, especially for a brand with so much at stake. For years Nike had built a reputation as the company that empowered the athlete in all of us. How would its new way of doing business affect the connection with its customers? In Nike’s case, it made it stronger.

Nike’s brand positioning never strayed from empowerment, but the core story that defined how they deliver on that concept evolved. Nike’s brand narrative created a context for its evolution that made change necessary because it created more value for the customer. Its digital products and services that personalized the athletic experience (like the Nike+ Running App, Nike FuelBand and NikeID) were a marked departure from the company’s heritage. The story around these products, and Nike’s transformation, helped customers realize their ambitions through “personal transformation.”

Moving forward, not running in circles

Nike’s journey to a personal transformation experience is a prime example of how to build stronger connections with stakeholders, inspire and attract new customers, and energize a brand.

A firm understanding of how your brand connects with people, and defining the unmet need that your brand fulfils, are the foundation for a successful narrative. It becomes the funnel through which the narrative flows. It allows a brand to show the value it offers in meaningful ways.

Nike’s ability to deliver on the its promise of empowerment drove the business and the story, while keeping stakeholders informed, engaged and excited about what’s next.

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