Four ways to Brexit-proof your brand


Uncertainty can be terrifying if you let it.

It probably goes without saying that the biggest uncertainty looming over UK businesses at the moment is our country’s imminent au revoir to the European Union, and exactly what sort of deal is brokered.

I’m not usually a negative kind of guy. I always try to see the good in people and situations. It’s not my style to lead with doom and gloom, but sometimes it’s necessary.

And as you might remember, I’m blessed/cursed with a sixth sense for sniffing out businesses that are dead on their feet. 👻

As with any major historical event, there will be winners and there will be losers.

Those who cope with uncertainty by burying their heads in the sand are setting themselves up for a fall.

But if you’re smart and face the chaos head-on, your brand can become bulletproof.

Here are four ways you can approach Brexit.

#1  Embrace the chaos

Embracing chaos and harnessing uncertainty can lead to powerful innovation.

Uncertainty helps businesses find new ways forward, and can be an unlikely source of inspiration.

In fact, radical innovation thought leader Peter Hinssen is firmly of the opinion that chaos is not only conducive to innovation, but it’s also actually necessary for it.

He cites late Intel boss Andrew Grove, Visa founder Dee Hock and Haier CEO Zhang Ruimin as fellow believers that only in chaos can people step outside their normal patterns.

If your business is to come up with some truly out of the box ideas, Brexit might be the best thing to ever happen to it.

#2 Become indispensable

We all have something we’re insanely good at, but often we take it for granted and don’t really give it the attention it deserves.

At times of uncertainty, really doubling down on what we do better than anyone is a smart move.

It might seem counter-intuitive, but rather than casting the net wide and trying to appeal to a huge audience, now is the time to do one thing well.

That’s the way to carving out a special place in the hearts of those cherished few, who in turn will reward your brand with loyalty as unshakable as a home counties Tory voter.

#3 Embrace your Britishness

We often take for granted or don’t fully realise the inherent brand value of being a British brand.

Embracing our heritage gives us authority and credibility.

British brands are an average of 100 years old as opposed to the youthful 67 of our global counterparts, and there’s an incredibly rich history to this little island, with world-class creativity to be proud of.

British Airways’ current 100th Birthday campaign and its focus on ‘modern Britishness’ illustrates this fact beautifully.

As chief marketing officer Hamish McVey puts it:

“If you put Brexit to one side, Britain's got so much to celebrate - the people, the skills, the talent, the amazing products we export as a nation. So, there's a fantastic story to tell about Britain…”

And even if we put the matter of Brexit directly, well over half (60%) of US consumers surveyed said that their perception of British brands would not be affected as a result of it.

For many people, ‘Made in Britain’ as synonymous for quality seems pretty darn bulletproof.

#4 Think global, act global

Whatever happens at the end of March, the digital age means we are all global companies still - or at least, we all have the ability to be, by taking our service online and addressing a truly international audience.

Case in point - we’ve been talking with a B2B blockchain brand which is looking to relocate to the UK from China. They certainly still view Britain as a place to base their business and expand operations from.

They aren’t the only ones either - Amazon has boosted its UK investment and is set to create 600 new research and development jobs in a new Manchester office.

“These are Silicon Valley jobs in Britain, and further cement our long-term commitment to the U.K”. Doug Gurr, Amazon’s UK Country Manager.

In conclusion, keep calm

I realise that never in the history of people being told to ‘calm down’, has anyone ever actually calmed down.

But it’s all too easy to make knee-jerk decisions that are reactive, not strategic, and which may result in short-term wins but in the long term will only de-stablise your brand far more than Brexit itself.

As creatives, our job is to see around corners.

We can’t alter the past, we can make only small differences in the present, but we can significantly positively impact the future if we all think and act ‘bigger’.

Side joke: The Past, Present and Future walk into a bar. It was tense. Thanks, Alexa.

Everything on earth goes in cycles - there are business cycles and economic growth cycles. Over time, brave, purpose-driven brands will continue to develop, innovate, create and grow.

So while we may well see some serious speed bumps and volatility in the short term, take comfort. The sky is not falling, the world is not going to crash and burn, and nor is your brand.