Brand Strategy

Post-Corona Corporate Branding

The epochal event of the Covid 19 pandemic may change people forever. If this is the case, companies would do well to adapt their corporate brand accordingly. Seven societal changes with an impact on corporate brands seem possible to us from today’s perspective.

We do not want to join the lively crowd of experts who already know exactly what the crisis means and what it will bring about. The events of the last few months are too unique for that. Surprisingly honest, on the other hand, was the report published today on on a study by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, which surveyed adults in 35 countries about toilet paper panic buying. The study’s co-author, Theo Toppe, admitted: “We are still far from a comprehensive understanding of this phenomenon.” Many questions will probably only find satisfactory answers from a distance in time.

Nevertheless, it is worth thinking about how society, customers and consumers might change in order to align corporate brands with possible scenarios. We have looked at the predictions of futurologists, trend researchers and other “experts on tomorrow”, and distilled a wide range of research, opinions and assumptions into concrete changes that would be relevant to the management of corporate brands – if they come to pass. The following seven changes seem possible to us:

01 Localising the global

“Swissness” has long been an issue and “from the region / for the region” a good selling point. But now the “localisation of the global” seems to be gaining even more ground. The craftsman next door is being valued again. People are returning to local know-how and discovering local alternatives. Artisans have a future. People distrust products whose origin cannot be traced. A survey of the Swiss population carried out in April by the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts seems to confirm this: People buy whatever is available, but Swiss products and regional origin are clearly more popular (see Figure 2.1 of the HSLU-study).

If this change is to be sustainable, corporate brands should play up their local connections wherever possible. They should emphasise their roots in the region, their long history and their understanding of local peculiarities.

02 Conscious enjoyment

Consumers are once again looking for unique, pleasurable experiences. But this pleasure is a more differentiated consumption. Meaningless pleasure is out.

Companies need to be able to combine fun with seriousness. The message: We’ll help you have fun, but you needn’t feel guilty about acting responsibly. Here too, the HSLU study speaks a clear language: The Swiss believe that in the future they will spend more money on things that make life more enjoyable, but at the same time they want to pay attention to regional products and shop in the neighbourhood (see extract from Figure 6 of the HSLU-study).

03 Need for empathy

The social distance suddenly made intimacy with loved ones a luxury. On the other hand, the pandemic revealed a solidarity that strengthened the “we” feeling. Local “we-cultures” emerged and neighbourly help gave a good feeling.

If this greater need for empathy remains, corporate brands should be perceived as particularly close and accessible. Employees can play a key role in creating this closeness. They should be trained in empathy so that they can better meet the emotional needs of customers. Active listening would be the order of the day.

04 Slow down attempt

Getting off the hamster wheel, finding peace, acting more consciously – working from home not only saves time, but also creates space for reflection, deepening and mindfulness. It is quite possible that many will not want to return to an unsatisfactory shortness of breath after this experience.

If a “quieter pulse” is also considered attractive in the future, corporate brands should find a new depth. Enable a more in-depth examination of the offer and provide opportunities for dialogue. And in the exchange with customers, it is important to show patience for those who want to know more.

05 Desire for sustainability

A move away from the throwaway mentality. An even stronger desire to protect the environment for future generations. A strong aversion to “green washing”.

If this is the case, corporate brands should communicate sustainability in a particularly credible way. Environmental labels alone are not enough. What is needed are surprising, creative approaches to how the company is helping to reduce CO2 emissions. And positioning through services that make it easier for customers to live more sustainably themselves.

06 Discover domesticity

Under the impact of the pandemic, home may become more than just a place of origin and comfort. If it used to be “my home is my castle”, now this castle turns into a fortress. Meeting friends at home seems safer than going out to eat in a restaurant. Working from home is becoming part of everyday life for many. But people also like to retreat in other ways. To cook, to work and to grow their own vegetables on the balcony or in the garden.

If this trend continues, customers will be busy enough building and expanding their security zones. Corporate brands must therefore convince through simplicity. What they offer must make life easier, be 100% secure and always work. Disappointments lead to long-term breakdowns – trust, on the other hand, is earned through consistency and reliability. Corporate brands should only promise what they can definitely deliver and, where possible, back up their products and services with a (lifetime) guarantee or an all-round carefree service package.

07 New Perception of Health

The pandemic is changing the way health is perceived. A more holistic understanding of health is emerging. People are becoming aware that they are responsible for their own health.

If this trend continues, corporate health brands should communicate that they can actively support customers in discovering holistic health and creating sustainable wellbeing.

Our current conclusion on corporate branding post-Corona is that the movements are not new, but the crisis is likely to amplify the trends. Corporate brands are being forced to position themselves more humanely and to act accordingly. A strong brand today is extraordinarily attentive, understands needs, offers relief, offers to talk without imposing itself, and is there when things get difficult. Companies would do well to quickly analyse whether the perception of the corporate brand has changed due to the impact of the pandemic – among customers, employees and also within their own management team.

Photo by Geoffroy Delobel on Unsplash

— Ralph Hermann / 16.6.2020