There haven’t been too many positives during the current COVID health crisis, but one I’ve enjoyed following is the way in which brands have responded.  Creative messaging, flexible production, and operational adjustments are just some of the way’s they have consolidated an entire brand cycle into only six months.

While the word “pivot” has been way overused, that’s exactly what brand managers and ad agencies did throughout this pandemic.  And, in my opinion, have done it very well to reflect the current culture and climate we’re in right now.

There are five phases to the brand cycle evolution:

Phase 1:  Hold On

When COVID first began sinking its gnarly teeth into our country and rocked our world’s, most brands were off-guard.  They either 1) did nothing different and maintained their strategies or 2) pulled everything and watched from the sidelines.  Either way, consumers weren’t paying attention and sales of products and services plummeted.  While media usage and viewership were skyrocketing, brand activity almost came to a standstill. Except for those with a direct correlation to the virus – think Clorox.

Phase 2:  All Together Now

When the dust began to settle, brands realized that the country and consumers were not in the mindset for “business as usual,” competitive positioning.  This was a time for unity and empathy and messaging such as “We’re all in this together” and “We’ll get through this together” became the norm.  However, no matter the industry, this message strategy was commonplace among all brands. One could hardly tell the difference in terms of execution – think somber piano music and images of families waving to each other through windows.

Phase 3:  We Can Do This

As brand management realized the pandemic was going to extend beyond a couple months, decisions were made to ensure that their products and services did, too.  Brands responded in new, different, and very creative ways.   Video executions featured Zoom gatherings and respected social distancing and mask wearing.  Creative executions, which once might have displayed large indoor gatherings, became smaller and more timely both in terms of talent and production values.  In addition, from contactless delivery to tele-everything, brands were responsive and creative in their service and operations delivery strategies, too.  Very impressive!

Phase 4:  Back to Business

“We need revenue!”  Chief Marketing Officers heard this cry from C-Suites in all industries.  With diving sales and anxious boards, organizations began encouraging consumers to return to (a new) normal.  And, within the limits of safety and new protocols, return to revenue-generating transactions.  In-home products such as fitness equipment and furnishings also turned up their voices and realized exceptional gains in sales -think Peloton.

Phase 5:  The Vaccine – Back to Normal?

With news of a vaccine hitting the streets now, brand managers are busy planning for their products and services.  Industries that are decimated by the pandemic hope to go big in 2021.  Accordingly, as consumers and business travelers look to hit the skies and streets again.  It will be interesting to watch how these brands address health and safety concerns; airlines are already beginning to incorporate testing and other safety measures into their operations.

Regardless of how long this health crisis lasts into the new year or where it takes us from here, the responsiveness and resilience of brands have been quite impressive.  Brand cycle and adjustments often take a minimum of a year to fulfill; we have seen most do it within a few months.

Brands across the world have all been impacted and, based on what we’ve seen to date, will get through this together.

Click here to learn more about Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy and how to brand cycle during this health crisis.

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