Brave Decision Making Is an Investment in the Future of Your Brand

May 31, 2019

By Ashley Rosenow

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At the ANA Brand Activation conference last week in Orlando, Fortune 500 brands, and those who hoped to get there one day told their stories of overcoming challenges in their never-ending quest to strengthen brands, and the best way to position them for an enduring future. As disparate as the stories were, I was struck by the story of Carvana, a five-year old tech-company who has broken the mold on the car industry by making difficult, but brave decisions.

Can you imagine sitting in the brainstorm where the idea of creating a used car vending machine was put up on the wall? Can you imagine the excitement around it followed by the one person who explained why logistically it couldn't happen? And can you imagine everyone else in that room, including key decision makers, ignoring all of the reasons why it would be difficult, time consuming, costly and still going for it?

Doesn't that sound awesome?

I'm not sure if that's exactly how Carvana was created, but the idea had to come from somewhere and a decision on it had to be made. A vastly informed decision, but one not rooted in data as it had never been tried before. That decision has since made Carvana considered the industry's most prominent new competitor in the used-vehicle market, according to Automotive News, debuting at No. 8 on Automotive News' list of top 100 retailers based in the U.S. ranked by used-vehicle retail sales.

It would have been easy to say no without proof it would work. But the hard yes Carvana decided to make has changed the automotive industry and evolved how we, as consumers, shop for cars.

But not all risks are success stories. Arguably, all risks will ultimately turn into a learning, one way or another, but how do you make a brave decision with confidence?

  • A brave decision starts with a company breaking old habits and being open to change – from the way they approach marketing to their product / service offering. By empowering employees and partners to question how the brand has been operating, there is more room for learning, evolution and growth. Carvana is led by a group of people who immerse their employees in their company values with mantras like "there are no sidelines" and "we're all in this together," allowing a forward-thinking culture rooted in a team mentality.
  • A brave decision will impact your consumers. Be relevant. Connect with culture. Understand your consumer motivations and emotions. Will you be talking AT your consumer or will your brand become immersed with your consumer? Carvana provides personalized gifts for customers including dog leashes for dog lovers and onesies for new parents. A small perk that connects Carvana with their consumers on an emotional level that is sure to bring positive word-of-mouth. There's even a Reddit thread of people sharing their Carvana swag stories.

In returning to Chicago, the theme of bravery has stayed with me, more specifically, the application of bravery in a business context. Bravery isn't necessarily good and risk isn't inherently bad. But when coupled with a decision to try something unconventional, something new — not for newness' sake, but because the action inherently answers a business need or makes the brand stronger then it's time to consider the hard yes.

Ashley Rosenow is senior account director at Match Marketing Group.

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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