We are in unprecedented times and nobody knows exactly how this is going to play out but one thing is for sure, the business landscape will have changed significantly when this coronavirus lockdown is finally lifted and every industry will show the scars for years to come.
I guarantee you've learned something new about your business in these strange times though. If your business hs the ability to function with home working then you'll no doubt have figured out which people and services are vital to the day-to-day running and you'll have no doubt spent time looking at the list of outgoings and had a cull of non-essential items.
The upside of this is that the business is running leaner and more streamlined than ever before and once this storm has passed you'll be in the perfect position to reap the rewards.
Some companies will unfortunately not be around once the dust settles to try and rebuild. Already household names such as Debenhams, Carluccios and Brighthouse have all entered administration during the Covid-19 outbreak but in reality the high street has been suffering for a long time and this was just the final nail in the coffin for these companies. The truth is, major brands have been going bust throughout 2019 into 2020 and even without the virus would have no doubt succumbed to the effects of lower footfall, smaller margins, higher rates and rent costs.
The outbreak has seen many businesses become closer to their customers than ever before. Restaurants becoming take-aways, delivery drivers becoming a welcome friendly face and cleaners no longer being looked at as menial labour but in fact a vital service that will be seen as essential to businesses in the future for more than just the aesthetics of a tidy office.
If you view the NHS as a brand then right now their stock has never been higher, the public have a new found respect for those on the frontline and we are finally realising how lucky we are to have free healthcare whenever we are in need. I just hope this doesn't get forgotten when we return to 'normal'.
Those that have built a strong brand over the years are reaping the rewards of customer loyalty now and will not only survive but thrive when the lockdown is lifted.
Cost cutting of non-essential items, analysis of internal processes, finding out who your most loyal customers are and which team members are key are usually processes that take months and even years to assess but lockdown has condensed it down into a few short months.
Don't lose sight of what you've learned during this time as it'll form the basis for your revival and for future success.
Pay attention to the messages that have resonated with your customers. If you've staff working from home, what has worked and what hasn't?
It is time to have complete clarity about your brand messaging as you move forward. Know exactly what you offer, who you offer it to and most importantly, why you do it (simply to make money is not enough). There has to be a purpose and that purpose should be expressed at every opportunity. Express it internally among team members and express it externally with every customer interaction.
Tribe is a term that is regularly used in branding conversations.
"A brand tribe could be regarded as a group of people who collectively identify themselves with the product and share similar views and notions about the brand. They are not just consumers of the product, but play a major role in its promotion."
- The Economic Times
Branding workshops we run spend a lot of time analysing past and present customers and their key attributes to create personas of 'the perfect customer'. These people form the band's tribe and would use the services and products above all other options because they personally identify with the brand.
Apple is a prime example of this. Millions of devoted customers across the world opt for iPhones despite the fact that there are cheaper options with better features from numerous other suppliers. The difference is, the tribe identify with the Apple brand on a more personal level meaning features and price are no longer a deciding factor.
If you've been regularly communicating during the coronavirus outbreak with your customers and keeping an eye on enquiries and questions then you'll have a really good picture of who your most loyal customers are and their attributes should form the basis of your 'ideal customer persona' for future marketing and communications.
The single most important practice in Stoic philosophy is differentiating between what we can change and what we can’t. What we have influence over and what we do not. None of us have any control over the coronavirus outbreak, other than staying at home to help the nation but we do have choice when it comes to our business. As a business owner or decision maker, make communication with staff and customers a priority. As an employee, invest in yourself and learn new skills, even if they are unrelated to your daily role.
Government will dictate when businesses can re-open and it'll take a long time to get back to normal but decisions you make now will have a massive influence on whether you thrive or simply survive when the dust settles.
Our opinions and observations about the world of business, branding and strategy.
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