By Ramel Kabbani, CEO of Fluence

Ramel Kabbani

Many companies around the world have been altering their logos to bring awareness to social distancing, a practice that might be encouraged but surely welcomed by health experts and institutions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. Audi altered its logo to show the four rings separated, with the tagline “Keep Distance, Stay Together.”. Coca-Cola is running a billboard in New York’s Time Square showing each letter in the Coca-Cola logo separated with a messaging reads ”Staying apart is the best way to stay united.”. The NBA logo, which features the silhouette of a basketball player in motion, has been rotated 90 degrees showing the silhouette lying down, and the basketball has been replaced with a laptop.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world into a tough position where both our physical and financial health are at risk. The enormous uncertainty it brings, presents brands with a serious challenge: how to maintain the health of the brand while being sympathetic to both our collective physical and mental health? Especially that brands are most probably going to be judged by the way they behave through these trying times. Overwhelmed, stressed-out employees and consumers will most likely have long-term memory for how those brands make them feel throughout of it all.

If brands react superficially they do so at their own risk. Because people are capable of seeing through disingenuous publicity stunts and hollow marketing gimmicks. Therefore for brands to continue to be relevant and formidable, for now and post-COVID-19, they have to look into their experience and overall behavior through the lens of “the new normal” that the pandemic is shaping our lives in accordance with.

Luxury goods firm LVMH, for example, announced early on that it would shift to more responsive production, forging out hand sanitizer for French hospitals rather than making high-end perfumes and cosmetics for affluent consumers. Ford joined forces with both GE and 3M to ramp up production and supply of medical equipment and ventilators.

The realization that collective responsibility is the only way there is to fight this dreadful virus has brought the value of togetherness back to the surface. It won’t be a surprise that the post-COVID-19 era will witness the rise of collaboration, not only between people but also between brands.

Brands may need to consider a positioning shift in light of the new reality. A shift that reframes brand appeal so to fit with emerging consumer values, concerns, needs and lifestyle the pandemic has forcefully instigated.

Brands may also need, more than ever, to be digitally savvy in order to be able to effectively connect in the post-COVID-19 era. Online shopping has become today’s only sales channel for many retailers. Effective and safe home delivery service is no longer a luxury but a survival necessity for such bands. Being able to work remotely is not a “new trend” anymore but a “new norm”. Getting such experiences seamlessly right and accurately in harmony with the new reality is key for brand survival, which begs for urgent innovation of new solutions and technologies, and creative rethinking (or repackaging) of products and services.

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis is playing a catalytic role for a major change as for the way our societies live and thrive. Brands cannot afford to stand still or do incremental changes to stay afloat and relevant. Transformation is the way to go.