Future Proofing your business is essential – the latest research shows that 90% of companies will still fail within ten years. The latest study released by Shopify also reveals that 31.2% will fail in the second year, 38.8% in the third year, and 49.7% won’t be trading by the fifth year. Future Proofing is about preventing failure. It’s about scaling a brand and keeping it on a constant upward trajectory, growing from strength to strength.
Future Proofing a brand starts from the beginning. Technically speaking, the brand itself is the first step towards futureproofing – is it the right business idea? Is the branding correct? Is the market saturated? These are all questions entrepreneurs should be asking if they want to succeed.
Below, we’ll look at future-proofing a brand during the earlier stages to secure a place in business in the long run.
The Right Licenses And Insurance
Future Proofing a brand in the early stages starts with having the right licenses and insurance to trade. It can be as simple as ensuring the idea is copyrighted: and the brand name is trademarked. One of the most infamous examples of issues created by failing to copyright an idea was between Microsoft and Apple – who created the graphical user interface?
In the US, businesses also must ensure they’re registered as a business under an LLC or corporation, potentially file a doing business as a name, register with the IRS, register with local and state agencies, and apply for the correct licenses and permits. Companies must, by law, have permits and licenses to sell items like tobacco, alcohol, and firearms.
Most businesses should also consider insurance, yet one thing many small businesses and startups don’t have is commercial insurance. There are numerous types of insurance to explore. Some brands operating a fleet – like delivery services – will need commercial auto insurance. Most businesses will need commercial property insurance or general liability insurance. Insurance acts as a safety net for when things go wrong, and the brand might be at fault.
The legal side of the business and protecting a brand from consequences of specific circumstances – like liability for injury, for example – is an essential part of future proofing a brand.
Keeping Branding Consistently Relevant
Consistency is key with modern-day shoppers. Why is it so essential? 79% of shoppers believe they’re more likely to shop with a brand that they recognize, and recognition comes from consistent branding. That doesn’t mean the branding won’t change over time, but it must be consistent when it does. Take big brands like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s – they’ve changed their logo and identity multiple times until they settled on the perfect branding.
Not only does a brand need to be consistent, but it also needs to be consistently relevant and move with the changing consumer expectations. For example, many consumers now expect to have seamless digital experiences rather than shopping in-store. 75% of consumers are now shopping online at least once a month, which has almost doubled from previous years.
Failing to recognize relevance has been the pitfall of many successful brands. BlockBuster – the once-popular DVD and video game rental stall – went into liquidation after failing to follow the digital curve. Consumers were downloading content on their laptops, so the store stopped having the same level of sales it once did.
According to HubSpot, to keep a brand relevant during fast-paced times, brands can do the following:
- Focus on brand awareness
- Explore brand extension
- Establish a mission statement
- Define the values, benefits, and features of your brand
- Find your brand voice
- Market, market, and market some more
The Consumer-Centric Approach
The consumer-centric approach has always been a winner. It’s the approach of putting the consumer first with everything a brand does. Everything a business does should meet the needs of the consumer. For example, companies focusing on content marketing should explore video marketing context more than text because consumers absorb 95% of video content compared to 10% of the text. Companies wanting to focus on sales should consider the omnichannel experience because consumers are now exploring more avenues for sales than before, like social media shopping.
There are endless ways to consider the consumer-centric approach and how to put the consumer first. But more than anything, being consumer-centric is about elevating the consumer experience before, during, and after the point-of-sale. If you want to futureproof your business during the early stages, explore consumer-centric marketing and selling and everything they embody.
Focus On Data-Driven Evidence To Guide Business Decisions
Many industry experts will tell startups that the evidence is in the data. Data-driven sales and general business decisions are essential – they form concrete evidence to back crucial business decisions. For example, deciding to introduce a new product should stem from data that indicates the product will sell, not guesswork. This data can come from studies, interviews, market research, and sales data.
Big data and artificial intelligence have become staples to many brands that want to focus on the data and how that can influence business decisions. Both can collect and organize mass amounts of relevant data that puts ideas into perspective.
Explore The Hybrid World
The pandemic didn’t create the hybrid business world, but the current success of it is a product of the pandemic. During the height of lockdowns, brands were forced to find ways to communicate and connect with consumers, and hybrid was the way to do it. Numerous software and applications poured into the market, allowing employees to work from home, business meetings to happen anywhere in the world, and consumers to connect with brands.
The hybrid world is here to stay, and if you don’t want to be like BlockBuster – that missed the digital curve – now is the time to explore the hybrid world and how it’s elevating brands and bringing them closer to shoppers worldwide.
Future Proofing a business happens naturally over time as the best business decisions are made. Each brand will make mistakes and learn along the way, but there are some fundamentals, like mentioned above, that every brand must consider if they wish to trade long-term.