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Positioning Your Brand in the Covid Era – ReadWrite



Positioning Your Brand in the Covid Era - ReadWrite

The lesson to retain about positioning your brand in the Covid Era? Lean In To What Makes You, You.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, you’ve been working hard on business plans, raising funds, building the perfect team, and doing everything else you needed to do to hit the ground running once you were ready and the world was “back to normal.”

So, you have a startup that’s ready for the world?

But so much has happened that couldn’t have been predicted a year ago. And it seems like there is no going back to normal. So, how do you position a brand in the era of Covid? Or, fingers crossed, the post-Covid era?

The good news is, brand positioning and branding, in general, are naturally adaptable practices. The world changes, consumer needs change, markets change, the art of branding takes all that into account. It’s just that, this time, things have changed faster than usual. It feels disorienting.

Are you sitting on an e-commerce startup?

Let’s assume you’re sitting on an ecommerce startup. Many of the steps to position your new brand will be the same as ever, but COVID-19 has added new factors to consider

And even the most avowed techno-optimism would agree that the extreme changes to consumer behavior caused by the covid crisis are likely to be further magnified at some point soon, as the effects of climate change really begin to bite.

An Agile Business is Always a Good Business

My point here is not to spread doom and gloom, but to hammer home the idea that we can’t see the current period of upheaval as something that we can “wait out.” Whether it’s temporary or a part of larger changes, a good business is an agile business.

Grab a piece of it for yourself.

In a way, this is an opportunity to become a leader in a new landscape — plenty of less astute and adaptable brands won’t make it — leaving gaps in the market. Add to the gaps and find new areas of consumer interest, and you can see that we’re heading into a time of real opportunity.

But before we can work out how best to position an ecommerce startup’s brand for the covid era, we need to take a look at what has changed.

How have consumers adjusted their behavior after a year in and out of lockdowns?

What Consumers Want in the Covid Era

Given that Covid has, according to McKinsey, covered ‘a decade in days’ in terms of consumers adapting to digital services and experiences, there’s no doubt that after all of the upheaval of the pandemic, consumers are feeling wrong-footed.

The somewhat strange feeling has had a few different effects on the population. Firstly, many consumers are feeling negative about the economic future of the country they live in. This kind of economic pessimism drives consumers back to core values they tend to hold — plus, it makes many people spend less money or, at least, spend more carefully.

On the other hand, during the pandemic, many consumers have tried new ways of shopping, be that shopping online rather than in stores, or simply trying new brands and companies for both products and services.

People want to try new stuff.

People may be more wedded than ever to their core values, but they are also more open than ever to try out new brands that represent those values! Illustrating this, consumers responding to a McKinsey survey cited quality and purpose as two of the main reasons they have tried new brands recently or would do so soon.

What are the values that people are so attached to at the moment and looking for in new brands?

That depends on what kind of consumers you’re looking to attract.


At Squadhelp, we recently conducted a study into brand positioning. We were trying to determine which demographics react well to modern branding and which respond better to classic, historied branding.

The question we asked:

The question we asked just over 300 people was as follows: “Would you be more interested in working with a new, innovative company or a historied, trusted organization?”

Our findings:

Our findings weren’t all that surprising, but they were surprisingly definitive. We found the following:

  • 25-34-year-olds strongly prefer new and innovative branding. Just over 50% more of these participants chose new and innovative than chose historied and trusted

  • 35-45-year-olds prefer new and innovative branding, but this group was pretty evenly split between the two options.

  • Both 45-54-year-olds, and 55-65-year-olds are more interested in historied and trusted organizations

  • 55-65-year-olds were the most drawn to historied and trusted branding, with almost twice as many participants preferring this option compared to innovative brand names

  • Men were found to have little to no preference in siding with trusted brand names compared to those that are innovative

  • Women were more likely to choose the historic and trusted brands, with just under 60% of our female participants siding with this option

  • Overall, out of 301 participants, 153 opted towards historic and trusted and 148 went for new and innovative, which means that each direction can be a great choice, depending on who you want to engage with as a brand.

The clearest piece of data here is the difference in preferences for older and younger consumers — but predictable — it has always been thus…

Younger consumers like innovative, new brands; older consumers want historied and trusted brands (or at least, brands positioned to seem historied and trusted).

It’s intuitive to assume that, in times of crisis, people will look towards places and brands that are comforting and strong.

People are looking for brands that elicit confidence — and this has been borne out by recent research. But the kind of brands that illicit confidence varies between age groups — older consumers want history; younger customers see strength and trustworthiness in innovation.

The Importance of Brand Tone for Positioning Brand — Nail that Tone!

When you position your brand on that spectrum between historied and trusted, and innovative and new — you are making the first steps towards choosing a brand tone.

The tone, in turn, is the first step towards naming your brand and all the marketing, advertising, communication, and day-to-day decision-making that will flow forth from that name choice. So, what has Covid changed about brand tone?

If anything, Covid has made picking the correct brand tone even more crucial to the success of your new ecommerce startup. If you nail that tone, consumers will trust you. They’ll become your customers.

The five most popular brand tones are:

  • Preeminent
  • Pragmatic
  • Emotional
  • Intriguing
  • Fun

Remember, any one of these tones could be right for your business if it’s a tone that will appeal to the sort of target customer profile you have built and want to bring in. That being said, the tone should also work for your business. If you make custom gravestones, you probably won’t be going for “fun” in your business message, for example.

If you’re a B2C ecommerce business, selling mostly to millennials and gen z, on the other hand, you should aim for intriguing, fun, or potentially emotional if it fits your product.

These are brand tones that reflect the core values younger consumers hold dear. In other words, these are the brand tones that make millennials and gen z feel safe — something we all need during Covid — to feel safe. Have you nailed the safety factor?

Choosing a Name

The most important initial decision you need to make as a business owner once you have decided on a brand tone is the name for your startup.

Naming your company is a multistep process, and it’s neither a quick nor easy process — but don’t be disheartened by that fact. No name is a magic bullet, after all. You are trying to avoid a bad name, not come up with a perfect name. In fact, there’s no such thing as a perfect name.

If you need some help starting the engine, you can use a business name generator. For example, the Squadhelp company lets you enter your industry, keywords, and emotions you want to evoke. When you enter the information, make sure that the name ideas it suggests fit with your brand tone.

The match between name and brand tone is crucial.

Watch the match between name and brand tone. How else will potential customers know, on sight (or on hearing), what your brand tone and, ultimately, your brand values are?

At this stage, tone, industry relevance, and emotions should pretty much be your only concerns. So if you’re working in a group, write all those key things down on a whiteboard and just start throwing names out into the room.

This is the brainstorming stage, and the key is to throw as much as possible at the wall and see what sticks.

As a rule of thumb, innovative brands like a new B2C that are positioned somewhere around “fun” and “intriguing” tend to be successful with names that are misspelling, blends, transmutations, or compounds.

Why not try coming up with a few of each? Here are some examples.

  • Misspelled: Lyft, nimbl, Mohawx
  • Compound: SnapChat, SplitWav, WhatsApp
  • Blends: Groupon, Yuconic, Winvested
  • Made Up/Abstract: Orizia, Itorix
  • Transmutations: Zappos, Zumba

If your name clearly indicates the position of your brand — more consumers will pick up what you’re putting down. In addition, they will find themselves immediately aligning with your new business.

Once you have a whole list of appropriate names, you can start to weed out anything that is awkward to say or spell, and anything either tonally off or potentially problematic. At least, anything you see as such.

When the list is down to ten or fewer names — it is time to do some audience testing.

Testing your potential name lets you see if your target audience actually responds to the tone and name you have chosen. Of course, you want the audience to respond in one way — but that doesn’t always happen. If you get no response — you just go back to the drawing board; no big deal. You can’t force people to like your choice; they either will like it — or not. And people as a group will respond to the best or the correct name.

Easy to change your name or tone — fix it — at this point.

Don’t press on if you’re not getting the reaction you want from your target demographic — they won’t suddenly all change their core values because once you have sunk money into a domain and a trademark. It’s easy to make changes now and will be much, much harder later.

Although you want to focus on your intended demographic at the testing stage, it’s important to make sure audience testing is also intersectional. Remember what I said about weeding out anything potentially problematic? A wide cross-section of people will be able to cover that far better than a narrow group of testers with similar values and experiences.

After testing names, you’ll probably be down to just one or two. There might not be the fanfare you expected for this momentous moment, but you have your name. Remember, no name will build your brand for you, but a good name becomes a great name by its association over time.

What’s a google??

No one knew what Google was twenty years ago. But now it’s a verb. And most of us also know it’s a really, really big number. But that’s not even important at this point.

Of course, naming your startup is only the beginning of cementing your brand positioning. But once you have both a name and a brand statement, the rest will flow more naturally. Just keep your brand statement and your core values in mind with everything you do from here on out with your business.

Return to your base (name and brand statement) before making any major branding decision. Then, ask, does this fit with our values? Does it fit with who we are?

Future-Proofing Your Business for Positioning Your Brand in the Covid Era

There are many approaches to future-proofing a business. Of course, practical concerns like financial buffers and sustainable practices are all key to keeping a business running for the long term. But so is branding.

While it might sometimes feel safer to hover in the middle, offering everyone a little bit of what they want, but nobody all of it, the research (and my lived experience) tell us that’s a poor choice to make.

Strong branding has been important throughout covid, and it will remain important in the future, whether there are further global crises or not. If the pandemic has shown us one thing, it’s that anything can happen.

And when that “anything” does happen — consumers lean harder than ever into their preferences and values.

Future-proof your brand by making sure it has personality.

You need your customers to know exactly what you stand for and who you are. In other words, build strong relationships while times are good, so that you can weather times that aren’t.

The mighty pivot

Of course, we have all seen the importance of being able to pivot over the past year too. Maybe you will, at some point, have to adapt to new ways of working or to your customers’ changed lives.

The one thing you can never pivot on, though?

Your brand positioning.

Image Credit: kindel media; pexels; thank you!


Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending



Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play

London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs



Deanna Ritchie

As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations



Deanna Ritchie

As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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