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What COVID-19 Did To Your Brand

Back in April, when we were still trying to figure out how to respond to the pandemic, I wrote that it was going to push more businesses further and further online. I didn’t realize then how complete the transformation would be. I wrote about how more transactions would happen online. But I was talking about retail transactions. I guess everyone could have predicted that. What I didn’t fully grasp is just how much internal business would be conducted online. I didn’t predict how many businesses would turn to Microsoft Teams or Google Suite. I didn’t know we’d witness the emergence of Zoom fatigue. And I didn’t recognize just how much business would change forever.

Now there is a pent-up demand for communal experiences. Students want to go to school. Shoppers want to hit the mall. Workers want to get back to gossiping at the water cooler. Travelers want to complain about airlines again. And I want to eat at my favorite restaurant – inside, with the rowdy, elbow-to-elbow crowd, listening to the mariachis singing in full voice.

But even with vaccines becoming available as early as this week, we’re probably in for another year of cautious living. We won’t soon be able to throw our masks away and crowd into STAPLES Center. Things will never get all the way back to “normal” because too much has changed.

For one thing, many businesses, mostly service businesses, are gone forever. For many, this is a personal and financial tragedy. But it takes a huge toll on the economy as well. It will take years to fill the holes these missing enterprises have left in daily life, both personal and commercial.

But other businesses have actually improved during the lockdown. Freedom Mortgage, a billion-dollar, closely owned mortgage servicer is a case in point. Their CEO was reluctant to let his hundreds of employees work from home but there was no safe alternative. He didn’t expect his workforce to become 14% more productive! Now he’s looking for ways to satisfy employees’ need for community without sacrificing the higher productivity.

Retail shopping was already moving online. But the pandemic rushed it all the way there. Now shoppers will only need to go out to enjoy the activity of shopping with friends. So retailers are looking for ways to give people reasons to hit the brick-and-mortar stores. They need to deliver unique in-store experiences. They need to become entertainers.

B2B sales have changed forever too. People are so comfortable with Zoom calls now there’s rarely a reason to meet in person. Now, sales professionals don’t even ask how a prospect wants to handle that first get-to-know-you discussion. They just schedule a Zoom session. The prospect always accepts it. No more need for the sales people to drive across town and cool their heels in lobbies, waiting for the meeting to get started.

Even our grandparents have moved online, embracing Zoom and FaceTime and generally becoming computer savvy. Who would have ever thought that could happen?

It’s time for every business to assess what they’re going to keep from the Covid time. What technology did the lockdown force you to adopt that you might want to retain? What practices? What policies? What procedures?

Most of all, it’s time to look at your brand. How has your relationship with your clients or customers changed? Are you closer together or further apart? How has your interaction improved or worsened? If it’s changed forever, but not in a good way, how can you pivot to make your brand great again? What new products, services or business model can you offer? This will be a tough problem for many businesses but, given they’re at least still here, they’re lucky to have it.

BEST BRANDING READS – WEEK OF DECEMBER 14, 2020

Why Cleveland Indians’ Name Change is a Half-Century Overdue
One good thing about 2020? Two professional sports franchises dropping their racist names.

The CFO: From Bean Counters To Brand Champions
So glad someone finally wrote this article!

3 Digital Marketing Trends to Come in 2021
Every brand will want to keep an eye on these movements.

10 Brand Strategies For Success In 2021
See how many you can leverage.

The Fastest-Growing Brands Of 2020
Some obvious winners here (Zoom) but also some real surprises.

How to Overcome the Challenges of Multilingual Branding
Great article on a subject we try to cover from time to time.

The Age Of Business Profits And Societal Impact
COVID-19 has only accelerated the move toward socially responsible businesses.

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Best Branding Reads
Week of January 18, 2021

GM unveils new logo, plans new website in shift to electric vehicles
There’s something symbolic, I think, about going from upper case to lower case, from steely blue to sky blue.

Why Your Innovations Aren’t Working
Something to think about at the start of the new year.

How Strong Brands Embrace Emotional Insight to Drive Growth
Again, we make decisions with our lizard brain so that’s where brands need to make their appeal.

Aligning Brands With Shifting Demographics
COVID-19 is altering society more dramatically than we realize.

What 2021 requires from leaders
Denise Yohn shares thoughtful insights in this short video

Increasing Brand Awareness with AR
Only the biggest budgets can handle this now. But it will soon become more accessible.

How Purpose Is Driving Financial Performance
An excellent recipe for how a brand should align with the right social purpose.