Covid-proof Your Brand
So we thought, since we’re a friendly bunch who know a thing or two about branding and marketing, we’d put together a helpful guide on how to COVID-proof your brand.
As humans, our (and most of the Western hemisphere) entered utter panic. The COVID virus was moving fast, and the threats to the lives and livelihoods of those that matter were genuine, albeit quite strange.
Our behaviour to everything we had known shifted almost overnight. The way we communicated, how we consumed the news, and how we acted as consumers all completely changed – not to mention how we re-evaluated our alcohol consumption – temporarily for the better!
Many brands have suffered the consequences. Whether it was through not taking the pandemic seriously or refusing to change their business model, now more than ever, as business people, we can see how crucial it is to have a Plan B to deal with any crisis that heads our way.
We must foresee how quickly our buyer types and service users’ behaviour can change at a click.
Because of this, brands need to have the flexibility to navigate whatever flies their way and meet the ever-changing ways humans interact.
The New Normals?
How many of us longed for a profession that would give the flexibility of working from the comfort of our own home? Yep, who’s laughing now? Not many of us, I bet!
But, we have to embrace it and so do the brands we’ve worked so hard to create.
It’s going to be quite some time before we’re pre-COVID or if that is ever going to be possible.
Not knowing what the future holds means that the Captain Mainwaring approach should always be, ‘expect the best but prepare for the worst.’ Positive, ay?
We need to be able to adapt our methods of communicating with our audiences.
Even pre-COVID, many brands focused their attention on shouting about all the things they deemed important without considering what their audience actually care about. So many brands didn’t take the time to listen.
COVID has taught us that we need to stop and listen to our consumers to understand how they want us to communicate. And, while many businesses have managed to quickly adapt to this new mantra, it’s still very much new territory for many.
To blame COVID entirely on this would be unfair. Our audiences’ behaviour was already on the cusp of change; COVID just sped it up and turned it on its head. Could we consider it a good thing? Wait…
Many brands may have managed to ride the historical marketing pony for a little longer without the crisis, but now, they’re forced to rethink their entire business model. They’re being forced into the digital era far quicker than many would like.
With a significant increase in mobile consumption, brands are looking at new methods to reach their audiences in ways that traditional marketing and advertising would otherwise fail.
To come out on the other side, brands need to act with intelligence and sustainability.
COVID and your brand
Before lockdown, socialising and shopping was just the norm. Thanks to COVID, we were all stripped of our once taken-for-granted privileges.
Suddenly, seeing family and friends, nipping to the shop for some ‘bits’ or handbrake turning into the Golden Arches was replaced with Zoom chats with relatives who had only just figured out how to use the timer on the oven, PPE’d to the max standing outside of Sainsbury’s for two hours for a bottle of white (of the semi-skimmed variety), to buying food processors, bread makers, knife blocks, silicon Supoons, hands-free tin openers, etc., etc. from Amazon.
For those on Furlough, leisure time was suddenly available. So long as they didn’t go out. It’s no surprise then that we saw an incredible increase in the time spent on digital devices, from watching Tiger King re-runs to monitoring the news for the latest death rate.
Don’t get away from the fact that during this time, uncertainty and anxiety were high up on the list of emotions, and most looked for outlets where they could be delivered a portion of sanity and escapism.
It’s how humans cope.
As a race, we’re pretty inconsistent with our emotions and behaviour, and that’s why brands haven’t got the privilege of being the same. We need to ensure that when our audience needs us, we’re there for them.
Humans have pretty high expectations of brands. We want brands to provide us with information—products we need in a timeframe we want. If you can’t offer this, we’re off.
COVID-PROOFING YOUR BRAND
#1 Be there or be square
When uncertainty levels are high, you’ll want to ensure that you can support your users quickly and easily with an enormous amount of flexibility.
Look at your current processes. How can you streamline these to speed up the time it takes to respond and appease your audience?
#2 Think about your customer’s feelings
The age-old saying of: ‘You can’t please all of the people, all of the time’ still rings true, and as it’s impossible to provide a ‘one size fits all’ approach, it’s imperative to look at the assumptions you have made as a brand about your target audiences and revisit this data as often as possible.
Rather than focusing on all of the different socio-demographics, take the time to understand who your target groups are. Think about their pain points, frustrations, what excites them, and make their lives easier.
#3 Are you ready?
You need to be agile and flexible and willing to completely overhaul your entire business model from the word GO. Don’t ever consider yourselves at the top of your game. Keep an eye on your competitors and continuously monitor your user’s behavior and adapt your approach accordingly.
That being said, don’t suddenly jump onto an idea without thinking it through in the first instance. Consider your core competencies before changing completely. Test stuff out and see how it goes; otherwise, you’ll be wasting a lot of time, energy, and money, and during a crisis, no-one got time for that.
#4 Remember why you’re here
If you are one of the good guys who have zero interest in sacrificing their values, you’re a quarter way there. If anything, the brand you have built with humility and care will stand you in good stead moving forward. We don’t want you to take a Clipper to your mission statement in favour of the bottom line; we’re saying the opposite. Stay true to your brand vision and adapt your approach in favour of your existing audience. New ones will follow.
Yes, we know we will continue to face much uncertainty, but it’s good to remember that any branding exercise is a marathon and not a sprint. Everything we do may not have the desired effect, but if we stay honest with ourselves and start to appreciate what your customers appreciate about you and find ways to build on them, you should do great.
If you have any questions at all relating to this article or if you would like to pick my brains (not just for our paying customers!), drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or for ways that the Government is helping brands, head over to their dedicated business pages here.
Take care and stay safe
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