How to use branding to boost business post lockdown

Stay in Stay safe… Great words that you’ve probably seen a great deal of recently. Emails from companies you hardly have had contact with, or organisations you barely know. We’ve sent a version of this out, but it does make you think about why we did.

I think it’s fair to say that today we all find ourselves in uncharted territory. COVID-19 is bringing changes to all aspects of life in the UK and it’s clear that this is going to be the situation for the foreseeable future. Although work is no where near the top of a lot of people’s priority list, business still goes on. The saying; ‘plan for the worst, hope for the best’, comes to mind. We really are hoping for the best.

At Puur we’ve made some big changes, to ensure that we can keep ‘business as usual’. Although actually, we have to accept it really isn’t going to be business as usual for a long while yet. It may be that everything, including business will be changed forever because of this. We remain open (though not at our office any longer). We are still able to deliver our award winning design services, we are still giving advice and still using our years of experience to help our clients. The only difference is, now all of it is at arms length.

we have to accept it really isn’t going to be business as usual for a long while yet. It may be that everything, including business will be changed forever

With visits to clients being completely out of the question, we are looking at using more video conferencing for meetings, briefings or presentations that in the past we’d have really wanted to have done face to face. To help pass projects to us, we’re creating a project template that asks all the questions we’d usually ask. This and other items you’ll be able to find here, on our website.

But we’re also looking to the future, planning how we can work in a world with COVID-19 in it. What the face of business could be like when the grants have run out, the virus is still out there, but the cure is still to come. Will we shy away from shaking hands, will business owners look at their offices and wonder why vast sums of money are spent on rent and rates?

Some thoughts on how the business of branding could change…

We’ve already seen that there have been companies that have followed the ethos of a socially responsible brand – making donations to the NHS and its workers in the form of money or supplies, being a positive force for us all  – while others have chosen the bottom line and their shareholders. The positive actions will build a stronger brand reputation moving forward. Whilst those that chose income over the wellbeing of their staff and customers will have damaged their reputation for the future.

In terms of branding, reputation has always been so important. However, in a world with Coronavirus, creating a strong, recognisable, aspirational brand will be imperative. Gone will be the days when you can go to an online design outfit to create a ‘logo’ and identity for as little as £25. Consumers will see through this, they’ll want to align themselves to organisations that visibly share their ideals, ethics, and social views. This can only be achieved through design companies understanding what their clients stand for in the first place. As we’ve said before, organisations that understand their audience, reflecting or even mirroring their consumer’s wants and needs connect more strongly as brands.

Business after lockdown could be very different, the company landscape could be quite desolate. Companies that had been hit by the uncertainty of Brexit could be additional casualties of a world in isolation. Service companies may have still been able to work, but who were they working for? When the new normality begins people will come back not knowing what to expect – will orders still be there? Brand messaging and advertising will need to quickly promote how business has changed to the new world order. Focusing on their people. It’s possible that people will be the focus of so much moving forward, expect more messages from Bill from finance or Tracey in sales telling how company X is the best place to work, how it looks after its people. It’s possible that ‘people’ will be more key than ‘things’, moving forwards.

weeks and months of the country focusing on ‘not going out’ and getting used to online everything

With the weeks and months of the country focusing on ‘not going out’ and getting used to online everything, physical outlets will have a tough time moving forwards. Gone will be the days of retailers relying on the fact that they sell brand X, Y or Z, or even that they have everything you need under one roof. And when the housing market starts to pick back up it won’t work for estate agents to show all their houses in the window. The High Street will need to focus on its differences, people shopping will need ‘added value’, and that ‘added value’ will usually be people. Outlets will need to be more vocal about how shopping with them is a benefit to their customers, what their staff can give that going online can’t? What can they offer that will induce consumers to leave their houses? Why pay more for something that companies like Amazon can deliver to you in a matter of hours for less.

When social distancing rules are eventually relaxed they’ll probably be a period where getting out of the house will be a reason to shop or eat, but it’s possible that the uncertainty of a world with coronavirus could soon put paid to that. Brands that can stand for safety and security in a way that resonates with consumers could start to win through, strong and simple brand messaging will be king. Experts in their field will begin to be listened to, because ‘Experts’ will be the one thing that people will have got used to relying on. Talk about how the staff are always around to help, about how they know what they are talking about. Their expertise will be paramount, but delivering on the brand promise will be even more important. In a world where social media has become the fount of all knowledge, staff not walking the brand can become a huge challenge.

Brands that can stand for safety and security in a way that resonates with consumers could start to win through, strong and simple brand messaging will be king

Landlords of retail properties, will probably have to think about how they can reduce rental prices to keep town centres from becoming desolate spaces, Councils will need to work with them to find sustainable solutions. Together, they’ll probably need to develop solutions to ensure that businesses and town centres thrive and how that will benefit their bottom line. Doing the ‘right’ thing now could be the difference between failure and success tomorrow.

In terms of on-shelf brands, packaging will need to work harder. We’ve seen that some products’ brand loyalty has been key. That some products are seen as invaluable. Think rice, pasta and yeast, but also how Heinz Beanz flew off the shelves in supermarkets. Some of this is common sense, but some is due to the strength of the branding, some is about the product itself, the rest is brand loyalty and reputation. But how could branded packaging change in the future?

Brand messages could become simpler, cutting through all the brand speak, reducing the number of ‘benefits’ and focusing on the ones that make a difference to post Coronavirus consumers. Products that are ‘proven’ to boost the immune system could be the new Shangri la. As well as this showing clearly where a product was made could sometimes create a stronger loyalty, especially if the product is home grown. In the mind of the consumer, home grown could equate to reliable. But even that is going to be a challenge, who will help make these home grown products with Brexit still on the cards?

At the end of the day, like the virus itself, we really don’t know what the future holds. All the above is speculation and hypothesis. One thing is for certain, this is an unprecedented event that no one can really plan for – people knew there was a possibility that something like could happen, but no one knew when or what. It will however, change all our lives.

For now, the best thing to do is stay in and stay safe.

Puur doesn’t just deliver award winning design solutions, we give advice to ensure that design is part of a successful business strategy. Our decades of experience from both sides of the design ‘fence’ gives us a better understanding of the needs of organisations today. We know that our work is a business tool, it has a function, answers a need. Give us a call today to chat over your needs and how we can help.

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COVID Update (October 2020)

Whilst the world is still in the grips of this terrible virus and Essex is a tier two area, Puur is still working. Schools are still back and lockdowns are still getting more restrictive again, so we’re still home working. However, we can and have been doing all the work we usually do.

Obviously if you have any branding related projects we'd love to chat (over Zoom). In the meantime stay safe.

Find out the latest government guidelines