Reshaping your post-COVID brand for a brave new era of business

Marketing advice and customer insights to help you communicate effectively in the new normal.

Let’s get something straight, it’s definitely not business as usual. The context in which your brand now operates has changed for many people. New consumer behaviour, priorities and expectations are forcing businesses to push, pull, pause or pivot.

The first step is acknowledging this new reality and providing an honest viewpoint as a business about what lies ahead for you. It has never been more important for brands to be transparent, authentic and trustworthy with their behaviour and communication.

84% of people expect brands to acknowledge and adapt to the COVID context

Secondly, the tone and style of marketing communication has fundamentally changed. The hard sell is no longer, instead brands should be providing support to their customers. You absolutely need to sell your products and services, but you must make every effort to be essential, fit-for-purpose and deliver true value.

It’s time to start talking to your marketplace. Customers want to know that you’re open. They want to hear about product updates and availability of services. They also want to trial your new online store and delivery service. And they are definitely looking for a promotional offer during this period of austerity.

Seeing businesses advertise and remaining active within the marketplace gives people a sense of positivity and confidence that economic activity is still occurring and provides them with a sense of normality.

74% of people feel positive about seeing advertising and promotion

So if you’re considering a marketing campaign, it’s never been more important to find the right mix between brand building and performance marketing activities. This has always been a careful consideration for businesses to make, but in the context of COVID, there are some extra special considerations:

Brand building campaigns must consider context and placement of the content more than anything. The creative must be adapted to the new normal and be sensitive, while also having cut-through as audiences start to experience coronavirus ad fatigue. All activity must have a suitable tone and style in accordance with the audience headspace to ensure that the message is effective in forming positive emotional connection and recall.

Performance marketing is about careful customer segmentation, data insights and analysis, combined with incremental adjustment and optimisation of strategy. Avoid blanket sales messaging, instead pin-point your target and refine your value proposition to meet their specific needs in this context.

Understanding your audience is key.

B2C – Lock-down lifestyles of Australians.

The imposed lock-down caused an unprecedented slow-down. Australians shifted gears and collectively took a breather to reflect and reassess, we spent more time with our families and had more meaningful interactions, while also consciously thinking about self.

Family and mental health were suddenly prioritised over financial goals and materialistic ambitions. Personal goals were brought into sharp focus and passions were reignited through hobbies and creative outlets.

An increased focus on health saw an uplift in wellness products and services, home fitness boomed in response to gym closures and searches for meditation and mindfulness related terms spiked.

Old and new relationships were reinforced over weekly Zoom and House Party catch-ups, and there was widespread reconnection to the local community and neighbours.

Suddenly supporting local businesses, those that were able to remain open, never seemed more important. Ethical and conscious buying was brought to the fore and discernment about time and money well spent created a new consumer behaviour and mindset.

Marketing your business to Australian consumers within this context will require thoughtful consideration. Our recommendation is that you ensure that any communication is helpful and meaningful. Don’t just make noise and be sure to keep things honest and simple.

B2B – Not business not as usual.

Most businesses have just experienced a period of rapid change and disruption, with some sectors impacted harder than others. For this reason, ensure that you understand the situation of your customers and determine whether your offering is relevant and useful.

Most Australian businesses, after recently adjusting to their lock-down reality of remote working and social distancing measures, are now dealing with the easing of restrictions and the awkward decisions of either reverting back or making permanent change. Whatever the case may be, there are certainly positives and negatives for every business to consider moving forward.

Right now also, like most households, businesses are paying close attention to finances, bracing for a lagging economic recession and applying for applicable government support. They are also proactively negotiating rent and bank fee reductions.

Furthermore, the end of the financial year is nearing and many businesses will be reflecting on their performance and looking to start fresh on solid footing come July. It’s no coincidence that the government’s three stage plan to lift health restrictions culminates with the beginning of a new financial year. The ‘new start’ mentality that we witnessed as we welcomed in the new decade at the start of the calendar year may very well have been delayed six months.

What’s been evident throughout this slow-down is that people have broadly reflected and reassessed. This collective pause has given business leaders a unique opportunity to refocus – doing away with ambiguity and pipe dreams to recognise and understand the truths within the business and hone the core products and services, as well find new efficiencies.

Marketing in a business context requires direct and focussed communication. Demonstrate that you understand the current challenges, be useful and speak confidently about how your products and services are essential. Lastly, don’t be salesy or bullish, however you have permission to persist if you are offering a genuine helping hand, often people don’t like to ask for help and many will be showing a brave face.

A call for bold new beginnings.

Here in Australia there is positive light on the horizon.

We shouldn’t be complacent with regards to health and safety, and surely the idea of returning to normal is a myth, so we must push forward and boldly embrace this moment with new ways of doing things and ideas that improve our world.

It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for every business to somewhat start again, armed with the wisdom and battle scars of many years in business. It should be a moment for brands to make their mission clear, to wear their values proudly on their sleeves, and dare to be different for the right reasons.

It’s an opportunity to refocus, optimise and find new ways to improve. A chance to revitalise the team and be an exemplar brand within the marketplace. Step forward confidently and with purpose at your own pace, speed is not necessarily the key. Doing things better is the true success metric – others will undoubtedly follow.

We look forward to continuing our work with clients, defining their ambition and applying our creative and technical skills across the disciplines of branding, digital and marketing to help create and communicate in the new normal.