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Has COVID-19 changed the way we do branding forever?

By 22nd October 2020No Comments

Six months can mean a lifetime in the branding and marketing world. Back in March, we saw a deluge of ‘empathetic’ messaging in response to the pandemic – mainly in the form of email marketing.

Before long, consumers began to regard these “we’re here for you” emails as little more than identikit messaging. Some even said they increased their anxiety.

Marketers soon realised they would have to change tack. Branding hasn’t lost its definition through the coronavirus pandemic. It’s still about our values and how we communicate them, but brands are rethinking their values and messaging.

Our biggest branding priorities

According to Bynder’s COVID-19 special State of Branding report, half of all brand professionals noted their biggest priorities to be:

  • New messaging
  • New content
  • New campaigns.

We’ve seen this reflected in minor changes, while other brands have come on in leaps and bounds. KFC, as ever, turned to humour to tweak their brand messaging.

Others took far more drastic steps, humanising their brands on social media and responding to political causes. In tandem with the general anxiety of the pandemic, the worldwide BLM movement prompted widespread brand responses.

Even humble tea producers broke corporate impartiality and actively told their critics not to drink their tea if they supported racism. Competing brands banded together and founded the #Solidaritea hashtag – suggesting an overall more ‘human’ shift in marketing trends.

Responding to changing customer needs

Akin to the brand response to this movement, the most successful companies are those that walk the walk. One of the key facets of branding is responding to consumer needs. Many world-renowned names have done just that.

The National Theatre, for example, made the switch from theatre viewings to livestreams instantly. Others took a more collaborative approach. Seemingly chalk-and-cheese brands JD.com and music label Tahei Music Group partnered to create an online clubbing experience. Before long, they were joined by alcohol powerhouses Carlsberg and Budweiser.

By responding to customer needs – that is, making the lockdown experience more bearable – these brands have demonstrated the adaptability of their products. In the long term, this will stick in customers’ minds and reinforce loyalty.

Understanding customer values

A shift towards remote working has put a renewed spotlight on sustainability. With most of us working from home, we’re all being more conscious about our carbon footprint. The best brands have pivoted their values and messaging to reflect this.

Florists Bloom & Wild met their customers’ sustainability demands by sourcing flowers entirely from the UK.

Similarly, the effect has made its way into the fashion world. Many fashion week attendees are now rethinking their multiple flights to international destinations.

This is great for two reasons: it causes global brands to rethink their strategies, and gives smaller brands a platform. In fact, 53% of consumers switched to lesser-known brands during the pandemic to be more sustainable.

The time is now

As consumers become more ethical, small businesses in Lancashire are poised to respond. What’s important is to practise what we preach – we should espouse these ‘new normal’ values and give our customers empirical evidence.

Eco-friendly messaging, locally sourced stock and genuine human compassion are paving the way for marketers to thrive. Are you ready?

For more tips on branding your small business, contact Tall Zebra Designs.