Remember who you are. That’s been the rallying maxim at Watson Creative since the shelter-in-place order was issued and the studio went remote. When navigating the unprecedented landscape every studio and business finds themselves in now, it’s never been more important to focus on your brand’s identity, the reasons why you do what you do, and on the people who are there with you.
Following a guest appearance by NFL legend Brett Favre, Watson Creative CEO and founder, Matt Watson, joins Biz Talk Radio host Frankie Boyer to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on clients in the Portland area and how brands can remember who they are and strategically position themselves for innovation and success on the other side. Below are some highlights of the interview. Check out the video above to hear the complete show.
Remembering who you are.
“Remember who you are. Wake up and you are here in the place of no place. A place where parks and schools are closed. Where beaches and forests and mountains are closed. Where restaurants, bars, shops you love, support and champion are closed. A place where cities of people are sick and dying. A place where nobody knows what happens next or when things that have taken everything away will end. And yet, it is here in this place that you remember— the work and the working hard. You remember the failing and striving. You remember the lives that shaped you. The stories that made you. The ideas that inspired you. The sweat, tears that bled from you. You remember the love and the reasons and the whys. You remember who you are.”
That was written by our lead writer and Associate Creative Director, Ian Miller. Angi Arrington, another one of our creative directors, designed the page. This story isn’t just about Watson Creative, it’s about being in the front lines and working with the executives of all the businesses that we serve and seeing the dismantling of small business, medium size, mid size, and in some cases, large global businesses.
I think as I look at some businesses getting annihilated, they’re down to 10% of the staff that they had before. I know of one agency in town that went from about 80 people to six and I think of the institutional knowledge, the culture, the direction of who they were a few weeks ago and who they are today. I just pray that they and everyone else comes out of this not just stronger, but with a really vivid vision of who they were and where they wanted to go.
Gaining perspective on what’s important.
I really resonate with rethinking what we want out of life and what means the most, as I think we all get caught up in our careers, and for me, creating a business. You can see the volatility of that all being stripped away and what are you left with? What are you left with, really? You’re left with your health. You’re left with your family. You’re left with the lives that you’re able to touch. So part of the idea of remembering who you are is also a kind of mission statement. It’s about your life and asking what are we going to leave behind?
What we’ve been kind of coaching our clients on is that this is a big timeout for you as a person and for you as a brand. You can’t control marketing— you can’t control the market at all. In fact, from a marketing perspective, digital buys are down 70%. People are just risk averse about spending at this point. But the one thing that you can focus on is your brand and who you are. What we’ve been trying to coach people on is to lead with being empathetic and to find a way of inspiring hope within the community that’s out there.
From the ashes, innovation.
This whole situation is kind of creative destruction and the whole market just got scrambled up. Think of it like a forest fire. We get forest fires all up and down the West coast but what happens after the destruction is actually quite beautiful. The whole forest floor is scorched and all of a sudden there’s all of this new life that comes up from it. The same is true with the current market. Peter Drucker says there are two driving forces in the world of business: innovation and marketing. The old market’s been burnt down—it’s completely changed— and right now is a hotbed for innovation. The way that consumer behavior has changed is a great opportunity specifically for small businesses to innovate and pivot their strategy. So while there is definitely destruction that’s happening, I think that there’s also a great bit of opportunity out there to come out of this stronger.