Branding In the New Age during COVID-19 –Evolution or Decimation?


The COVID-19 pandemic turned out to be a catastrophe, both in terms of the loss of life and damage to the economy of almost all the countries worldwide. Many businesses failed to cope up with the immense pressure of lockdowns and transitioning to e-Commerce for sales. But, not all hope was and is lost. Due to lockdowns, most people became avid social media users and engagers. Moreover, this pandemic made us realize that after all we are not invincible and regardless of our technological advancements, we are prone to nature’s swings. This creates a unique opportunity for brands and businesses worldwide. When consumers started showing signs of compassion, empathy, and care towards the planet due to the fear of being extinct, many brands immediately switched to CSR (corporate social responsibility) to add an emotional flare to their messages. And, for many, it worked like a charm!

How Did COVID-19 Impact the Marketing World?

From a macro perspective, COVID-19 completely decimated the core foundations of marketing. Around 94% of marketers around the globe reported that their branding and advertising strategies were literally annihilated due to this pandemic. 18% out of the 94% believed that this situation has little to no ground for marketers to play on. However, a handful of them were optimistic, adding that while the situation has brought a paradigm shift in consumer behavior, it is also a doorway to new opportunities only if businesses/brands are willing to adapt to the new norms.

What are the New Norms?

Believe it or not, marketing never had a blueprint. The formula has always been to consider the needs of your audience, spice it up with humor, glamor, or emotions, and present your product in a way that it becomes desirable for your target market. This, in its entirety, is what marketing is all about. Branding, being a branch of marketing, works on similar principles. There’s no hard and fast rule of what you can do to make your brand appealing. Before the advent of search engines and social media, mass media marketing was the go-to thing. Even after, many brands resisted having their presence on search engines and social media. As evolution would have it, social media marketing & search engine marketing became the fad. And now, these two are the top priorities of most businesses.

Since branding is always evolving as per the prevailing consumer trends, there’s no reason to panic even if a pandemic hits your way! You simply have to figure out how to connect with your audience and make your brand attractive and trustworthy.

So, let’s dive right into it! Here are a few tips that we believe can help brands “re-brand” their identities as strong, responsible and trustworthy brands during this pandemic.

Tip # 1: Redefine Your Brand Values in Relation to the Pandemic

First and foremost, as already established, this recent pandemic has compelled people to look towards the catastrophes that we have the potential of inflicting on planet earth. These include more consideration of global warming, plastic waste, animal cruelty, famine, and the like. Many gigantic brands such as Apple & Samsung have already aligned their branding and products with the same. For instance, Apple’s recent announcement of not having charging cables with the message of ensuring lesser plastic waste was soon adopted by Samsung. Similarly, Pepsi’s campaign of converting plastic bottles to plant pots has also gained quite a lot of momentum. It shows that consumers are now inclined towards brands with environmentally friendly messages. Why not adopt the same and add the same empathy and compassion as emotions in your brand values?

Tip # 2: Emotional Engagement is Outweighing Exclusivity

For an elite brand like Lamborghini, with its upcoming Sian Roadsters, it was a big move to switch to electric cars, even though they didn’t need to in terms of brand value. However, considering the recent change in trends, it was likely that most major brands would start adopting a more caring and emotional approach. For most small to medium-sized brands, this can be easily accomplished. Adding a touch of care to your brand values and aligning your sales strategy accordingly will only make your brand appear as a socially responsible one.

Tip # 3: Connect with your Audience via CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Activities:

Aforementioned, CSR campaigns are highly effective when it comes to building a socially responsible brand image. During this pandemic, your consumers are looking towards corporations to build a better future. Why not become part of the evolution? Opting for campaigns like distributing free face masks, sponsoring online learning classes, setting up road signs, and the like can really make your brand shine. Think of it as your brand becoming part of a small network of companies around the globe that took up the initiative to help people during this pandemic. It would leave an ever-lasting impression and make your brand more trustworthy in the eyes of your audience.

Tip # 4: Go Paperless – Save the Planet from an Upcoming Pandemic!

While the ‘go-green’ campaigns have been around, this is the best time to take up one for your brand. Educating your customers through your brand messaging about saving the planet from an even bigger pandemic seems apt. It would place your brand as a responsible one while giving you the chance to connect with your audience strongly and effectively.

The Conclusion (Or Just the Beginning?)

To conclude, let’s just say this pandemic has brought about a completely different perspective of leading more socially responsible lives. Right now, this is the message that’s being promoted by governments, organizations, NGOs, etc. Right now, this is all that matters. Why not jump on the bandwagon and make the most out of it? Imagine having a brand that represents social responsibility as its core value. That would be something especially when people are afraid and looking for guidance from wherever they can get. It’s what’s in demand and meeting the demands of your consumers is what marketing is all about!