The corona virus has shaken the foundations of our social and economic coexistence — maybe indefinitely — nobody knows. We experience, with more or less difficulties, an uncontrollable challenge and redefinition of our everyday life and the world, as we knew it. We don’t even mention the overwhelming presence of news and social media interferences. Not even mentioning the difficulties, becoming unbearable in those times of anxiety and adaptability. Nothing can be really forecasted as we speak right now. In all the things we may have in mind, it’s also possible that thebrands we are consuming or leading can finally be a little part of the solution.
Habits are getting disturbed. Routines are totally different. Needs shifted completely. How will their needs and priorities shift in response to the outbreak? Which behaviors and attitudes will come to force — and which can we expect to hibernate? And which newly-learnt behaviors would become habitual andoutlive the corona virus crisis?
While no brand wants to profit from pain and suffer, new opportunities will present themselves to companies most alert to the changing landscape. Also it is recognized that strong brands are getting back on their feet faster — you can find a lot of information about this particular fact. Here is a simple scheme for the brands to understand better what to do and most importantly, start their internal and external changes for the months and years to come.
Stage 1 — Learning
You need to take some time to really understand how your company was affected by the situation — your staff (working mostly from home, salaries…), your partners (delivery problems, financial cash flow…), your sales department (stocks, distribution…) until your company digital transformation. Lots of things changed and you have to understand how to adapt to it in a very sharp manner. And you will be in the position to understand quickly your creative challengefor your brand for the next months. This creative question is related to the way you operate your business and how your brand can be part of the conversations for the people in this crisis situation.
Many companies already took action for their employees and partners — having them safe and giving them the right tools/knowledge. Of course, it was crafted under pressure and sometimes in a chaotic way — that’s fine, everybody is struggling at the moment. But the brands that were surely the most visible were the ones that came back to their brand cultures — and reacting accordingly.
You have to make sure that your brand can be considered as a solid rock in the chaos, the brand culture you worked on for many years (hopefully..) will be visible in the actions you take for your people but also your consumers and the society in a broader scale. More than ever, your brand culture will be spread through everything you do and will make a difference for everybody.
But you want to do more (and it’s great, actions are more important than communications), it is obviously time to go back to your brand literature that you developed in the past.Take some time to get back to your brand articulation(if you don’t have one, this is definitely time to get one ASAP). It will refresh your understanding about the essential elements of your brand but mostly your purpose(why you do what you do…) but also your values(that may guide you to understand how to react to the current situation).
Finally, from the inside out, it is time to listen back to your consumers and understand their ‘new’ needs, habits and desires…maybe you should focus on your loyal consumers and talk to them directly (well, we’re sure they have some time on their hands to talk to you).You can always deepen your understanding by creating different personas and profiles, challenging them with empathy maps and extreme users exercise. You will be able to craft some trends and interesting insights that you could answer to help and support the community.
Stage 2 — Supporting
Pumped up by all your discoveries, you will consider your best way to contribute or participate to the current situation. You have to be careful. The creativity of your brand has never been so important and all the empathy, conscience and subtlety you may put in all your actions are extremely important.You have to take action across the whole brand spectrum — from your internal culture and workforce to the messaging you deliver to your consumers and communities. And some efforts should be sacrificed to avoid appearing tone-deaf (don’t be afraid to kill ideas…even good ones if they don’t fit).And then…well, you can decide not to get involved. But you have to measure the impact of deciding so on the after-crisis situation. That can be harmful
When you observe what some brands started to activate, we can observe 7 main trends or fields of brands’ intervention:
- Supporting the front line -to support the vital key workers who are in the front-line of the crisis
- Repurposing your production — if your brand doesn’t currently manufacture or sell a relevant product but still want to help. It will impact hugely your short to medium term profitability, but it will create a positive sentiment.
- Aiding the vulnerable -helping those consumers who are most immediately vulnerable to the effects of the crisis, not always your core consumers
- Amplifying the specialists’ and WHO advise — With so many sources for (mis)information, the official advice of the World Health Organization (WHO) often goes ignored or misunderstood. They help to stimulate good behavior and drive change amongst local populations
- Carrying on at home — chosing to help ease the transfer of necessary activities to home environments, a critical component of maintaining a sense of normalcy.
- Maximizing moments of happiness — Some brands have recognized that supporting people’s mental wellbeing is extremely important…mostly right now.
- New Channel Entertainment — With live events around the world getting cancelled or postponed, some brands are offering virtual events as a popular alternative for people.
Stage 3 — Celebrating
How will the brands provide clarity for this unsure time? And when we get back to some sense of normal, how do you collectively create a sigh of relief with your consumers?
Brands will have to use their full empathy and respect to be able to reconnect differently with their consumers but also to guide them through the next steps? Many categories will have to change their narrative like banking, airlines or HORECA…even more if they had been deeply silent for the full crisis period.
The period will be one of happiness and victory but also of recovery for the brands — internally and externally. A crucial moment to start understanding what to do next…
Stage 4— Scaling
This might be the most challenging phase and we don’t have any accurate guidance for the moment. The world is on its knees and will be standing again to create something different — most probably.
What will be the role of your brand? What will be the added value of your proposition? How your brand is going to fit in a new paradigm for the consumers? Brands will have to reassess everything to stay relevant in a society that will be healing profoundly. New brand articulations will be needed, new brand narratives developed…in a way that will bring sense on a longer period of time.
Leadership was definitely crucial during the Covid-19 crisis; it will be also essential during the post-period when new things will have to emerge:
- The context will be completely different but the objectives will have to be defined clearly
- Speed will be key in decision-making, things will keep moving very fast
- A new narrative will have to be crafted and owned by the brand
- A multiple-horizon view will be necessary to understand all the parameters of the brand development
- The resilient leaders will have to stay focused, anticipating the new business models that are likely to emerge and sparking the innovations that will define tomorrow.
Time to craft specific strategies for each brand to make sure that you gathered all the important learning from the pandemic and that you start building cleverly the after period that will be obviously challenging for all in the next months if not years.
If you want to have access to the full presentation (always in progress), Brands and Corona Crisis
Neon42 is an international brand consultancy, operating all over the world, designing specific methodologies for each of their clients and their expectations. Our motto is to create and shape brands and their ecosystems to transform the consumers into fans. https://neon42.com, follow us on https://www.facebook.com/Neon42Dialog/