Navigating your brand through the pandemic

To know what is going to stay the same we have to understand what is definitely going to change. An article about branding and communication during the pandemic.
10/4/2020
by
Razvan Comanici
Brand strategist
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I’ve been thinking about writing this article since this whole pandemic situation has become real. While talking to business people and entrepreneurs, reading articles and trying to find a pattern in previous crisis situations the common theme seemed to be general uncertainty. The truth is that is almost impossible to predict how are things going to unfold. Practically, the only thing we know is that we don’t know. 


Things will not be the same

Although there are many contradictory opinions about the future, experts seem to agree on one important thing: the world we are going back to is not the same world that we left behind. Nobody has the courage to make predictions, but at least we need to make some assumptions about what the future holds for our businesses. Playing the waiting game is not a valid solution, it will never change things for the better. To be able to reset our businesses we need to take some kind of action and for this, we need to understand where things are going and what can we do to be prepared. 


As boring as it may sound, we need to have a strategy

In order to build a strategy for your business, you need to know what are your resources and you need to have a plan to manage them. More than that, you will need to be scrupulous and evaluate your business, do it without misconceptions and evaluate where your business sector and your business are going. There’s no reason to be pessimistic, optimism is not a solution either. You need to be honest with yourself and get prepared. 

Talk to people, experts, and entrepreneurs. Learn. It’s one of the most important things you can do with your time right now. On what you learn you will be able to build a healthy strategy, a survival plan or maybe even a development and growth one. At the end of the day, a crisis is also full of opportunities.  


Tomorrow’s consumers are different

Consumers find themselves in an unprecedented situation and their consumption habits are radically disrupted. Although they weren’t personal choices, some of these newfound consumption habits might be here for the long run and become permanent. 

This general state of uncertainty and the lack of safety have already changed the priorities of consumers everywhere. The longer this crisis takes the deeper these changes become. Safety, in any form, will become an element that consumers look for when interacting with a brand and it might even become a decisive evaluation criterion. 

All consumers’ decisions are guided by emotion, actually, it has been scientifically proven that without it people are not capable of making a decision. This will not change, but the consumer’s normal state of mind will. That means that our brands need to play under different rules. The value system of our brands will need to adapt to the new values of the consumers and do it as fast as possible. 


Communities will be essential

Right now people are living in relative states of isolation, that fluctuate from context to context and individual to individual, but anyway, interaction is limited. To add to that, the rules of engagement and social interaction have changed, probably for a long time. But people are social animals and they need communities for self-validation and communication. This is why there’s a spike in online interactions. 

The lack of habitual interaction creates adaptation issues for some individuals and people feel the need to belong. People will continue to seek the company of their tribe, but this time it will be their smaller, close and personal one. They will seek other people that they have strong and deep connections with, their close family and friends to satisfy their emotional need for connection and safety. 

Large groups will be avoided and least at first, mostly because they do not offer an emotional connection but also because they are a source of danger and insecurity. For the business of event organising the near future is full of challenges. A new mental pattern arises that associates large groups of people with immediate danger for us and our loved ones. This mental wireframe is here to stay. 

In this new context, small communities will flourish and be essential for brand communication. If you already have a strong community around your brand this is the time to make it stronger, help it and grow it. It will be essential in the future life of your brand. Consumers have just received a life lesson about the value of the community, brands should too.


Consumers are not loyal anymore

All the experts say the same things, brand loyalty is diminishing rapidly and this is a trend that will keep going for some time. One reason is that people are just realising that they can live without their favourite brands and that they there’s no real suffering attached to this reality. Another important reason is the scarcity of some brands that made people experiment with other ones, so their reasons for brand loyalty are questioned. 

Truthfully, there are very few things you can do to avoid this as a brand. It’s better to actively try to adapt. We are coming back to communities and the need for your brand to get involved. Start a social campaign, prove that you are an important part of the community and get your consumers’ attention through this. This effort will get attention and keep you on top of the mind of the consumers, but it’s really important to be honest and genuine. Don’t do it for the attention, do it for the greater good!


Digital reality is the only reality

We used to believe that social media is just a place for people to see cat videos, but now it proves to be one of the most important brand communication environments. Right now people are spending more time in that world than in real life because real life is limited and because everybody else is there. 

The most difficult thing is not getting your business on social media, but getting your business to be digitalised. That’s a bigger task than creating a Facebook page and posting content. You need to adapt procedures and learn how to sell your product online. It’s beginning to look like a vital set of skills. 

What about working remotely? It sounds easy just for everybody that has never tried it. You need a system, you need procedures. The bigger the team, the harder it is. Productivity and motivation of the employees are fluctuating and you need to keep it under control. Add some layers of kids, pets, space or other people and you’ll get a scary cocktail of chaos you have to learn to manage. 

A thing is certain, digitalisation, although already on a growing trend has just received an explosive boost and became one of the essential things of the new world that’s taking shape. 


I’m afraid things are never going to be the same VS The truth is that things are changing

The two sentences offer two perspectives over the same reality. The sooner we accept it as entrepreneurs the better. Ițve spent some time on finding a good conclusion, and then I’ve found this quote from Haruki Murokami:


When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. But that’s what a storm is all about. 


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