Pivoting business mindset and strategy quickly is not a simple task. Even the most nimble and responsive organizations are not fully equipped to deal with this situation. However, those who manage well through this slump stand to be the best poised to succeed longer term. As we discussed in our first article, share of wallet may be a better metric than revenue growth for the time being — or rather, staying in business may be the goal. To do so, for nearly all companies, a pivot of strategic positioning is necessary. This is anything but a business-as-usual environment. Two major themes emerge as directionally advisable at this time.
Those companies that are doing the best are doing right by the World Health Organization (WHO). Specifically, there are six pillars on which WHO is advising the world for public health and safety: Wash your hands often, avoid close contact/stay six feet apart, stay home if you’re sick, cover coughs and sneezes, wear a facemask if you are sick, and clean and disinfect often.
To illustrate the second pillar “Avoid close contact,” Germany’s Volkswagen created a video which separated the V and W logo, with a caption that read: “Thanks for keeping your social distance.” Audi likewise separated its four connected rings to emphasize the same point. This is a clear pivot from their normal ad positioning, and in direct support of humanitarian efforts. While professional sporting events have gone on hiatus, and some taken to their digital likenesses, Nike launched a campaign urging people to keep their distance, and to “play inside”:
The Nike message speaks clearly to their “just do it” clientele in a way that still captures their aspirational athletes’ imaginations, yet directs them to a safe solution instead of “just going out to play anyway,” or “just doing my normal group sports.” It’s not only a great way to advocate for staying at home, but also to pivot the mindset of customers toward safety and social good.
Beyond providing social good, there is a unique opportunity to connect to humanity in a way most of us have not experienced in our lifetime. Emotions are high, and rightfully so. Folks are feeling the range: scared, alone, bored, uncertain. Connecting to customers emotional needs and aspirations has always been a hallmark of great brands throughout history. In a sense, today is not different in this regard. It is simply that the customer mindset and emotional state has shifted and continues to do so. Brands need to practice a deeper level of empathy and be nimble enough to adjust to change in real time. Here are a few of the newly prominent psychological drivers that brands can pivot toward:
For agile brands who can pivot, these new need states and aspirations may be inspirational direction. But the palate of new needs arising in this unfamiliar territory is vast…brands should stay attuned to what needs and emotions complement their values and mission, and find the relevant area where they can play in this new conversation.
Relevance is everything. The opportunities for brands to provide for unmet needs in this climate is also vast, as is the ability to be there for people when they need brands to provide more than just products or services, when they need them to be more.
Managing Director & Business Lead