How Should Your Brand Pivot Through The Crisis?
How do you position your brand in this crazy, pandemic world? Crafting an effective brand strategy is crucial right now, which means figuring out the short term and long term implications of shifting consumer behaviors. Some changes might be temporary, others more permanent.
Consumers are thinking about life during and after social distancing. At least in the short term, consumer experiences will dramatically change. Flight attendants, nail technicians, and restaurant servers will be wearing masks. How will that make you feel? There are significant psychological implications in the wearing of masks such as isolation, fear, and even depression. Masks are physical barriers and are symbols of danger and risk. Hell, they are scary. So will consumers feel like spending money for a frightening and bizarre experience?
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Since consumer behaviors, demands, and spending habits have shifted overnight, businesses need to consider this “new normal” when thinking about total customer journey and experience. Here are a few ideas moving forward:
1. Be customer-centric, not company-centric.
We’re strong believers in putting the customer’s needs and wants first – it’s the strategy that drives what we do at Cult. But now more than ever a brand’s success will depend on understanding its audience’s functional and emotional needs and drivers. Consumers are acutely attuned to what they need right now and which brands are there to help them solve those needs.
In today’s environment, brands have to create messaging that is relational, not transactional. Tractor Supply launched a national TV commercial to let its employees and customers know exactly how it is caring for its “neighbors” during this crisis from increasing employee protection benefits to enhancing the safety and convenience of its customer service. Provide the same value for your customers.
2. Be flexible and agile.
Put your team’s brainpower to work or consider bringing in an outside perspective to co-create ideas and craft creative solutions for a shifting business strategy. Industries like commercial real estate, live entertainment, hotels, airlines, cruise lines, spa services, and fashion retail will need to shift their core strategies and messaging to meet the demands of a changing world. Be willing to reevaluate your brand’s value proposition and how you can maintain relevance with your audience.
3. Drive innovation.
Now is not the time for your brand to play it safe. Not only do brands have to consider how to continually make the customer experience safe, secure, and technologically savvy, brands also have to be innovative in their messaging and marketing strategies, taking into account their customers’ acute emotional sensitivities. Emotions are heightened and consumers will quickly walk away from tone-deaf companies. Find new and inventive ways to communicate with your audience.
4. Figure out what your customers are doing.
This is a good time to understand what your customers are doing and feeling, and how to best stay connected to them emotionally. Evaluate each touchpoint a customer has with your brand and how you can leverage the best strategy to put your customers first. Some research techniques like in-home ethnographies, shop-alongs, and focus groups are not feasible right now, but there are technologies like Zoom panels, mobile ethnography, and passive digital behavior monitoring that will help you understand consumer behaviors.