COVID-19 continues to disrupt the way brands, customers and employees interact. Current research shows that customers and employees expect brands to show leadership during this crisis and do everything they can to help their employees, customers and communities.
Brands that have not already, are realizing that they need to be agile and proactive so that they can figure out what consumer and employee needs are, and how to effectively meet those needs. If brands fail to identify and respond to their needs then it could have a lasting impact on their brand reputation. But as the social and economic effects of the pandemic deepen, the shifts in expectations and behaviors are reshaping—in a more fundamental way—the relationship between brands and people.
We’re starting to see that the challenge for brands is not only about coping in the best way possible with the crisis, offering a helping hand or bringing relief where needed, but reimagining in a radical way their business and the “social contract” between brands, customers and employees.
In this edition of Dispatch X, we examine how brands are evolving to respond to customer and employees’ changing needs. Customers expect brands to take action during this time. They want brands to focus on building communities, taking care of their employees, and do their part to help people through this crisis. And there are good examples, such as DoorDash which is giving commission relief and marketing support to partners that helps customers and businesses or Ellenos that hosts virtual potlucks to boost employee morale.
But as we glance into how the new normal may look like, it’s becoming clear that optimism and empathy or messages about hope, although appropriate, won’t make the cut. For brands today’s message is action, by taking care of their customers and employees. What is at stake is trust and, in order to build it or keep it, brands need to be clear about what they stand for, and how they act, consistently. The right question for brands today is not how to ensure loyalty of customers or employees, but how loyal can brands be to them – especially at a time when they’re most vulnerable.
Customer and employee needs are constantly changing as the effects of Covid continue to appear, so it is important that brands continue to listen and adapt to customers and employees. Brands need to revisit their strategies and values to ensure they are aligned and being expressed appropriately at this disruptive time. If companies are not activating the true meaning of their brands now and after the crisis is over, they could lose customers, employees and ultimately relevance.