Standing Out In A COVID-19 Influenced Landscape

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There is little debate that COVID-19 has turned the world upside down and led to fundamental shifts in the way people think, work, eat, shop and interact. These significant changes to our way of life have offered us a collective pause. Consequently this has generated quite a quandary (and an opportunity) for brands as they consider future marketing efforts.  

One of the largest hurdles for brands in all industries, as the current global pandemic continues to be top of mind, is the task of standing out. A brand’s narrative and messaging must absolutely strike an appropriate tone to aptly align with consumers and yet remain core to internal value structure. Communications must incorporate and express a whole host of elements now such as comfort, compassion, contribution, community, gratitude, and humor where previously a brand’s voice didn’t have to consider or include so many nuances.

For many of our re-tool® clients the big question that has been the primary topic of conversation is how in our new reality (even when no one can define what exactly that is) does a brand remain relevant and remarkable while also addressing and being sensitive to a level of uncertainty that we have never had to navigate before? Simply put, it’s complicated.

Over the past few months, the aim of a majority of brand communication has been to educate people on safety, science and statistics, to express gratitude to medical and frontline workers and instill an overall sense of positivity. However, six months in, people have grown weary of brands tackling COVID-19 messaging and they are now urgently seeking a sense of normalcy. The long-term effect of the pandemic is that what worked for a few weeks or a few months this past spring/summer now feels like eons ago and has been replaced with a “let’s move on” mindset. Society is craving a balm to all of the upheaval.

Effective marketing under normal circumstances focuses on how to conceive, communicate, and deliver customer value, and this has never been more vital than during our current Coronavirus-influenced era. A few things we have always included in our re-tool® process we now emphasize more than ever when we onboard new clients:

Reposition. Reposition. Reposition. One of the pivotal things that brands can do is to reposition themselves by redefining what value means to their customers as they establish work-from-home, distance learning, and shifting personal and purchasing routines. This requires brands to step back and review their brand story, then identify how additional value might be offered by a product or service suite.  On the heels of that is crafting a fresh and broader appeal to each. Think solution, not just service.  Think education, not just promotion. Think value, not just price.

Listen carefully and communicate thoughtfully. In marketing, a general rule is to provide messaging that matches your market demographic. While you may have had successful messages in the past, the current situation calls for rethinking that narrative and re-engineering it to fit what your audience wants or needs to hear.

Take a few risks. Playing it safe right now although really easy to do lends itself to merely more of the same. On the other hand, risk takers tend to push boundaries and percolate and push out big ideas, which leads to growth and who doesn’t want more of that right now? The biggest brands in the world are where they are today because they had the tenacity to create a higher bar for themselves.

Bottom line, brands that take the time to understand and analyze the numerous pandemic induced changes to consumer behavior and attitudes will find opportunities within the obstacles and make themselves heard above all the COVID-19 chaos. Taking stock and looking ahead, ideating and innovating is how new value can be created and delivered which will make your brand a stand out. If ever, the moment is NOW to adopt a forward thinking strategy.