Brand Over Brexit: Communicating with Clarity in a World of Uncertainty
As the dust begins to settle on the immediate aftermath of the UK exiting the EU, businesses are recalibrating their strategies to take on the challenges presented by Brexit.
Every challenge has a solution, and Brexit provides an opportunity for brands to communicate how they’ll respond clearly and confidently. Moving forward, businesses can help define a confident future for their sector. A strong brand and a compelling business case can also provide a guiding point in the midst of uncertainty.
Our clients, who are leaders in construction, finance and technology sectors, will inevitably feel the brunt of the Brexit storm. There may be challenges, but there will also be opportunities to articulate their value in a turbulent marketplace. The following three examples provide a closer look at the opportunities in each sector in the wake of Brexit.
Construction: Demonstrate Value to Win
The construction sector is often the bellwether for economic performance and, unsurprisingly, is one of the first casualties of Brexit. Construction output fell by 2.8 percent in April; the construction purchasing managers’ confidence index is at its lowest point in 30 years, and house building and infrastructure projects have been put on hold. Uncertainty leads to malaises as firms seek clarity on labour, material costs, import and export prices, as well as planning regulation before moving forward with or cancelling major projects.
Owners of construction projects will naturally become more cautious and less amenable to risk. As construction tenders become more competitive, companies within the sector will need to show value beyond adjusting pricing strategies - demonstrating quality and performance will become integral to how firms market their offer. What extra value beyond price can construction firms offer and articulate to their customers? As projects move from private to public infrastructure construction, are your services fully compliant and regulation-proof? Can you offer access to markets and expertise that others can’t?
Finance: Talk Up Innovation
CFO confidence is at its lowest since 2008, with 82 percent planning to cut expenditure. Previous confidence has vanished; the top two priorities now are to reduce costs and increase cash flow while also reducing the introduction of new products and services and capital expenditure. The UK may be one of the world’s leading financial hubs, but the costs of exporting financial services as well as constantly having to renegotiate a myriad of legal frameworks with EU nations may prove to be very expensive.
Is the sector jumping the gun when it comes to clamping down on expansionary strategies? Banking and finance is in better shape than it was in 2008, while Britain remains a global leader in financial technology services. While Brexit certainly has its challenges for the financial sector, now is the time to shout about Britain as a leader in financial innovation, intellectual capital and the digital economy. Can financial firms show that their products fundamentally reduce risk as well as stimulate innovation?
Technology: Be a Powerful Service for Your Industry
The UK tech sector is equally uncertain as the UK attempts to outline how to negotiate digital services agreements with other countries. A decline in EU funding for academic institutions is also likely to slow the pace of technological innovation. The UK faces the challenge of tech companies relocating to hubs within the EU including Berlin, Stockholm and Eastern Europe. The UK had an opportunity to lead the digital single market, but may now be left behind as investment in research and access to talent declines.
So what is the real value for tech companies remaining within the UK? What can the UK offer that the EU can’t? The UK tech sector grew four times faster than GDP in 2015, with growth stimulation by access attributed to capital, government support and investment in talent (not just EU membership). Individual tech firms can and should act as powerful advocates for their industry, showing how the UK’s heritage in science, engineering and creativity can offer a catalyst for firms to thrive and grow.
While Brexit may prove challenging for many organisations, a clear and powerful proposition can guide businesses towards success. In a time of confusion over regulation, working mobility and the future of Britain’s business relationship with Europe, those with a simple, compelling message will thrive. The businesses that can’t articulate their value in a rapidly changing environment will certainly struggle.