Can Your Brand Ever Return to “Normal?”

Can Your Brand Ever Return to “Normal?”

We are almost six months into this pandemic, and many marketers are reading, writing, and answering loads of questions about the return to brand “normalcy.”  Personally, I haven’t heard the same response given to that question in the many webinars, zoom presentations, and podcasts in which I’ve either participated or tuned in. Most thought leaders agree, however, that there is a four-phased approach to “re-opening” brands. The four phases include Response, Recovery, Restoration, and Revitalize.  A quick recap of each: Phase 1 Response – Brands focused on safety, gratitude, and reassurance. “We are all in this together” was heard around the world.  And for healthcare organizations, it was all about the “heroes.” Phase 2 Recovery – Again, new safety protocols were ‘front and center’ and brands were actively changing operations to meet the needs of a very scared public. From home delivery to curbside pick-up, every organization had to rethink their product and service delivery.  In healthcare, existing services such as telehealth and online communications took on new interest and meaning. Phase 3 Restoration – This is the phase most brand planners believe we are in now. There’s a major push toward “back to business” and revenue generation to make up for lost sales and income.  Healthcare organizations are very vocal about encouraging consumers and patients to get the care they need and not to put off important procedures. Phase 4 Revitalization – No matter where you think we are on the “re-opening” plan, I’m sure you’d agree we are nowhere near this phase. We’ll know it when we see a return to long-term positioning strategies and the “why.”  Right now, we’re still in the who, what, when, where, and how strategies. According to Klein & Partners (Wave 3) ongoing tracking study conducted throughout the pandemic, most consumers would agree that we are in Phase 3.  In their opinion, we are in the middle of the curve and still a few months out for activities to “return to normal.”  In fact, according to many respondents, they believe some social behaviors will never return to normal. The online study also suggests that, for hospitals and other health organizations, their actions (in Phase 1 and 2) have created new, positive feelings towards their brands (20%, Wave 3).  One area in which hospitals and health systems are not scoring well, according to the study, is leveraging their online presence (social media and website).  Approximately 10%, or less in the case of social media, visit these sites and only 3% find them most useful.  Where are people turning?  The CDC website and other government sources.  Really, a lost opportunity! My thought is that most healthcare organizations are using these highly valuable tools. They are used to reinforce the same safety protocols that are offered in every retail, restaurant, and other service establishment – and not providing new, relevant content!  As a result, consumers are tuning out and turning elsewhere. As we enter Phase 4 Revitalization, brands will need to take more than COVID into account.  Other thunder in the perfect storm centers around other cultural issues such as marches, protests, riots, politics, race relations – to name a few!  Brands have to reflect these issues to be timely, relevant and meaningful. So, back to the question at hand:  Can your brand ever return to “normal?”  Keep this in mind;  great brands always adapt to the current culture and are highly relevant in people’s lives.  They are never stagnant and constantly evolve.  And they never “return” to anything; they always create something new. That said, your brand should not attempt to return to where it was.  That was then, this is now.  Instead, it needs to reshape and reconnect with your customer base in exciting ways that meet them where they are now – emotionally, physically, and economically.  So don’t worry about going back, only focus on going forward in innovative, fresh ways.  As Whoopi Goldberg (among others) is quoted as saying, “normal is only a setting on a washing machine.”  It’s time to create a new cycle that gives your brand strategy a clean and fresh start. Click here to learn more about Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy and how to keep your brand...
8 Important Shifts That Can Keep Your Brand Relevant and Meaningful in Uncertain Times

8 Important Shifts That Can Keep Your Brand Relevant and Meaningful in Uncertain Times

Brands continue to play an important role in people’s lives, and studies show that during a crisis – like now – they offer reassurance and a sense of comfort. From car manufacturers to restaurants, healthcare systems to hotels, brands are shifting their messaging to offer readiness, reassurance, safety, and even new ideas on delivering their products and services.  It’s amazing how quickly they’ve been able to turnaround their messaging and production strategies!  Already, there are best practices being established and amplified throughout the branding and advertising industries. The following are strategies you can act on quickly to keep your brand relevant and meaningful during these stressful, game-changing times: 1. Communicate in an empathetic tone Start by acknowledging that your audience is experiencing losses and lifestyle changes in ways never felt before. Great brands have relationships with their consumers, and now is the time to communicate from the heart. 2. Production values can be simple There isn’t the time or the luxury of resources to pour into new brand executions.  The idea is to connect quickly with your customers and let them know you’re there for them in whatever ways are most meaningful.   There have been excellent new commercials featuring infographics, re-purposed video content, and simple interview formats. 3. Corporate/social responsibility is every brand’s responsibility If there’s ever a good time to be a great corporate citizen, it’s now. Informing people of how your brand is supporting social distancing, its employees, and safety regulations is paramount to being relevant.  Creatively, it can also be unique; McDonald’s, Coke, and others are among those finding interesting ways to convey social responsibilities. 4. A special “shout out” to your employees For essential businesses, especially in healthcare, a little recognition goes a long way!  There are real heroes out there, working tirelessly and risking their lives, and they should be acknowledged. 5. Shift engagement to today’s channels It’s rare that consumers are (almost) always at home and resorting to more traditional media vehicles and channels. News ratings are exploding (of course) and readership of social media – even email – is up as well.  There are many details to provide in terms of how your organization and brand is responding to the current situation and there’s a good chance they’re being read. 6. Educate your audience around operations that keep them safe Safety is near and dear to everyone. Whether you’re setting up testing sites outside your hospital or providing contact-less interactions in drive-thru’s and grocery stores, it’s imperative to communicate the operational changes your products and services are making to keep your customer’s as safe as possible.  Tele-health has never been more popular and will create a new normal when this storm clears. 7. Embrace remote collaboration and virtual “events” Your brand can still engage its customer’s – you just have to do it on their turf, not yours. It’s amazing how many great, creative ways there are to interact with consumers using videos, apps, and constant updates to your website. 8. Your website has never been more important With “extra” time and the need for up-to-date information on your brand – especially among service organizations – your web traffic must be exploding. Make sure it’s up-to-date, accurate, and you’re letting your customers know how you’re dealing with this crisis.   When challenged, marketing leaders and brand innovators rise above with creative solutions. This current situation just faces us to think differently, talk empathetically, and connect in new ways.  Keep innovating and be safe! Click here to learn more about Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy and how to keep your brand...
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