Branding Lessons We’ve Learned During the Pandemic
It's been six months since businesses all over the world have felt the impact a global pandemic can have on our economy, spending habits, lifestyle, and so much more. We experienced shifts in market demands, purchasing power, and consumer behavior, all of which required business to pivot their operations in order to survive. This dramatic shift has presented many new challenges and undoubtedly caused much frustration. As we attempt to grasp the reality of these changes, we’d like to shine light on a few positive after effects that have surfaced during the pandemic.
With much of the world moving online for all aspects of their daily lives, the need for businesses to engage effectively with users has dramatically increased. With this, we’ve seen essential branding strategies become increasingly important for businesses to survive in the current competitive marketplace.
The Importance of Branding
We all know the importance of creating a strong brand presence. More than just a logo or packaging design, branding is the impression your company leaves with your clients long after your interaction is complete. It encompasses your company from a holistic perspective, taking into consideration your mission, vision, values, products, services, and so much more.
When you pass by a well-established store or franchise, most people can instantly identify with that brand, their products, and their corporate values, which is how you know their branding strategy is effective. A good branding strategy taps into the psychology of a select target audience. It remains consistent with company values, and most importantly, helps the business differentiate themselves from other competitors.
The pandemic has shone light on three key branding lessons that have helped businesses stay open and relevant during these challenging times.
Lesson 1: Don’t Become Complacent
According to Rogers Communications Inc., Internet use across Canada has risen by 50% during the pandemic. This dramatic shift to an online, cyber-lifestyle has replaced many in-person activities, such as meetings, banking, shopping, and even medical care. Even the way we work has shifted, with many of us relying on video conferences and other online services to stay connected.
While many of us were caught off-guard at the beginning of the pandemic, businesses that were proactively monitoring the shifting landscape were able to quickly and effectively pivot their operations. These successful organizations were closely monitoring their client needs, adapting as consumer behaviors shifted and they adjusted accordingly. Never has the need for an active and dynamic branding strategy been so important!
If companies fail to react promptly to market demands, their branding message can quickly become irrelevant. This becomes ten times more important during an economic shift, such as the pandemic. Routinely monitoring marketplace trends and updating company operations has shifted from a ‘nice-to-have’, future-looking strategy, to a mandatory factor for staying in business in 2020.
Lesson 2: Focus on Social Responsibility
In the past, brands have mostly focused on promoting the unique functions and features of their products or services. That dynamic shifted once the use of the Internet became a common way for consumers to research and compare brands in order to make an informed purchasing decision. Consumers care more about a brand's social responsibility now more than ever before. A brand's motivations, values, and contributions to the community now all play a role in the consumer decision-making process.
Modern-day customers demand more than just a product or service. They support brands that align with their values and ethics, and want to feel inspired, educated, and valued. Customers constantly have more and more options to choose from. They take into consideration whether a product is cruelty-free, ethically-sourced, or locally produced, rather than simply picking any product off the shelf.
Throughout this pandemic we have seen consumers shifting their focus and buying power towards brands that show efforts in flattening the curve, advocating for protective measures, and contributing to public health organizations. These organizations have demonstrated their commitment to social responsibility, in fulfilling society’s need for a deeper connection with the brand they are supporting.
We as humans connect through stories and empathy. To reinforce your brand’s focus on social responsibility and awareness, start by being transparent about your brand's mission, purpose, and values. Establishing a genuine connection with your audience through meaningful storytelling will help ensure your brand is memorable and viewed as trustworthy by consumers.
Lesson 3: An Online Presence Is Key
The pre-pandemic landscape already required businesses to have a solid online presence, in order to encourage sustainable growth in this competitive economy. This need has become increasingly more important with the rapid shift to an almost exclusively digital marketplace. With the world shifting to long-term social distancing practices, the importance of an online presence has become more crucial than ever.
Creating a strong online presence requires a comprehensive marketing strategy that considers all aspects of the digital landscape. Three key aspects that must be included are: social media, digital marketing, and an up-to-date website.
Every major brand is connecting with its customers digitally because of how cost-effective and impactful these platforms are. Unlike traditional marketing tactics, digital methods can reach a wider audience by establishing omnichannel experiences.
The connectivity of the Internet allows customers to:
- discover a brand through paid ads and search engines
- learn about the brand through its official website
- engage with the brands through social media platform
- continuously support the brand through loyalty programs
- receive notifications, promotions, and member discounts via emails
The possibilities are truly limitless! Having cohesion across all digital platforms provides consumers with the reassurance that the brand is established, reputable and trustworthy.
Changes can be intimidating, we know. But today's digital marketplace demands a more robust and flexible branding strategy, which is necessary in establishing brand awareness and maintaining loyal customers. Brand strategies always ebb and flow with market trends, so it’s important to keep a pulse on current trends as well as the needs of your target audience.