How brands have adapted to COVID-19

Abigail Beardsley – Hug Media

Has COVID-19 changed brands for the better?

Since the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued COVID-19 as a global pandemic, the world has been turned upside down and shaken up in a snow globe of pandemonium. Homes have become offices and supermarkets a hunting ground. Hugs avoided at the cost of comfort. So too has COVID-19 changed brands and the way business operates.

With only 15 per cent of Australian consumers wanting brands to continue on as normal, companies have had to adapt. It’s now clear that we won’t go back to the way things once were – not completely. We’ve created a list of trends, showcasing how COVID-19 has changed brand communication this year.

Group wearing masks during COVID

Trend: Essential information

If there’s one thing COVID’s taught us, it’s that communication is paramount. While health has been a major concern, so has job security and an uncertain future past the iso abyss. The most effective way to combat a crisis is through clear information and understanding. Audiences (48 per cent of Australians) have needed a constant stream of united messages, and brands have understood this.

Many companies led the way during COVID-19 with clear and accurate information. And let’s be honest, it’s been nice to take a breather from the stream of messages we’re used to receiving.

Outside of the essentials (company updates, health information and hygiene protocols), industry leaders focused their efforts on relaying messages to help hinder the spread of the virus. In doing so, companies – perhaps for the first time since the inception of the free market – stopped competing against one another to unite. After all, unity brings strength, and strength wins the war!

Train station sign: For public health and safety, please wear a mask while taking public transport

Trend: Film with feeling

It’s been essential during this time to lift spirits, offer hope and encourage a strong sense of togetherness. While the pandemic has left many feeling sterile, brands have taken it upon themselves to promote those fuzzy feelings.

From Colgate’s #SmileStrong campaign to Uber’s ‘Thank You For Not Riding’ video, companies have encouraged audiences to support one another. Some, like Apple, inspired viewers to look at their isolation experiences through a different lens. A warm reminder that creativity lives on, even from the depths of your WFH cave.

Using more than just words, many brands employed user-generated content to humanise their videos. This also made for easy production during a time where capturing new footage was especially challenging. Others used sentimental music and candid moments to create content that pulled on heartstrings; think IKEA’s I Stay Home ad.

While some brands have been criticised for the monotony of their ads, it’s safe to say they served their purpose. A few tears shed, hearts warmed, and the virtual hugs shared.

Trend: Giving back

While revenue has been down for most businesses during the pandemic, there’s been no room for the hard-sell. It’s really been a case of we’re all in this together. Many brands have adapted their promotional content, understanding the COVID-19 climate. However, it’s the companies that have given back to the community that caught our attention.

Some, like Facebook, Netflix and Yelp, promoted million-dollar grants to help those in their industry stay on their feet. Others used their resources to supply healthcare workers with essential goods and services.

Small to medium-sized businesses also gave back during the pandemic. The Oxford Tavern, Hugos Manly and several other Sydney locals pledged free meals to any hospitality workers struggling during this time. A humble reminder that support runs deeper than financial injection.

Using hand sanitiser during COVID-19

Trend: Restrictions to resourcefulness

We’re the first to say that this has been a time of adaptability and resourcefulness. And, we’re not the only ones. From tight budgets to logistic restrictions, many companies have had to rethink their entire business models.

Some found refuge online, extending their services and subscriptions to virtual classes and courses. For others, it was a case of using their skills to create essential products needed on the front line, like Four Pillars Gin, who used their distillery to produce hand sanitiser.

While a challenging time for many, it’s been inspiring to see the imaginative thinking that’s come into play. A true case of with adversity comes strength.

While the effects of COVID-19 have been disorientating for many business owners, it’s been essential to take a moment, listen and adapt to the new playing field. COVID-19 has changed brands, the way they communicate and how they interact with the world. It’s safe to say we’ve been inspired to do the same and will continue to do so post-pandemic.