Uncertainty and vulnerability are hot topics right now. People’s lives and businesses are engulfed in a climate of high alert in the face of a reality that is completely new to everyone. And the worst, it can change every day.

On the one hand, strengthened by the enormous possibilities of information provided by digital media, customers are increasing their expectations and demanding maximum transparency from brands. However, transparency is seen as a threat to many companies.

On the other hand, in times of crisis, instability generates great uncertainty that makes it difficult to see beyond the reality of the moment lived.

It’s true that being vulnerable is scary, but it seems like there’s no choice but to integrate it as part of business. And in this sense, it is important for organizations to understand the concept of brand vulnerability and the factors that influence it.

Let’s first clarify the concept of vulnerability. Vulnerability means being open, physically, emotionally, socially, environmentally, or economically. Being vulnerable leaves you open to risk, which is why it’s so scary. It is a term directly associated with concepts such as “uncertainty”, “bribery”, “manipulation”, “attack”, “damage”. That is why humanity has avoided vulnerability since the beginning of time.

However, vulnerability can be an opportunity from a business perspective, understood under the prism of the humanization of brands, favoring them to show themselves as real people at the service of other people, customers and society. For many years we have been immersed in the world of mass consumption. We are now in the age of humanization. We’re ready to interact with people, we’re ready to engage, we’re ready to experiment. And we don’t expect brands to be perfect, we just want them to be honest.

The great Howard Schultz, who was CEO of Starbucks, said, “I think the currency of leadership is transparency. You have to be honest. I don’t think you should be vulnerable every day, but there are times when you have to share your soul and your conscience with people and show them who you are, without being afraid of it.”

HOW TO USE VULNERABILITY IN A POSITIVE WAY?

  1. Focus on a niche and identify customers. A business niche is a specific area of a wider market to which a product or service can be offered that stands out from the competition. To find it, you can follow this strategy: Select a target audience, define an unmet or unmet need, research their potential customers, create a plan, and connect with that specific audience.
  2. Show up authentically. You have to stay true to your values, to what you stand for. You have to be very clear in what you communicate, and you have to provide transparency about many aspects that you probably haven’t communicated yet. Open yourself to tell a story for your brand, personalize it with its managers, how they overcame the difficulties, what were the achievements… It’s not about selling smoke, it’s important to show integrity in all actions.
  3. Own up to your mistakes. You can’t please everybody, and that’s a risk. But it can serve to attract those who feel identified with what you have to offer. Keep in mind that customers don’t expect brands to be perfect, but they expect them to be honest. Admit mistakes quickly, be honest and always provide solutions to problems that may arise.

In most cases this will imply a complete change of focus, where it is not possible to think of transactions before relationships, always considering a point of view that should prevail the human spirit to forge trust and in which vulnerability is something inherent.

Like any aspect of the business world, it’s usually the risks that reap the rewards. Being vulnerable can be like a muscle, once you work on it it becomes a strength.

 

Carlos Puig Falcó

CEO of Branward