Will Shorrocks

Delight your Community: Thrive Through Humanity

“How a brand chooses to operate in this period can determine that brand’s survival. Brand loyalty will be fostered.”
Verb, Digital Marketing Agency

Locked in our homes, we have never had a larger, more engaged consumer audience. With this new level of engagement comes more brand scrutiny. We can all think of brands who have lost our custom through a “business as usual” attitude, misplaced remark, or profiteering agenda. But we can also all think of brands who have impressed us, warmed our cockles, and gifted us with moments of delight. These are the brands whose content we will come back to like a comfort blanket and, when the time is right, reward with our loyalty.

Over the past months, businesses have found themselves having to make quick decisions on their short term futures. The most successful solutions are both conscious and creative. Here are the brands who have come up trumps, and what we can learn from them.

1. Show some love, put people and community first

Seattle’s three Michelin-starred Canlis were amongst the first in hospitality to take positive action. They acknowledged:

“Fine dining is not what Seattle needs right now. Instead, this is one idea for safely creating jobs for our employees while serving as much of the city as we can.”

Canlis were upfront about the fact that they are re-navigating their role in a COVID-19 world, and putting their employees first. UK chefs and restaurateurs have launched similar initiatives like Meals from Marlow and Peels to the People. These demonstrate the heart of hospitality.

Closed doors don’t mean closed for business. Now is a time to show that you care by pushing your resources into your people. Make it personal. People will remember you for it.

2. Drop the sales push

The most successful luxury brands have demonstrated that this is a time for giving, not for selling. Joe Wicks’ P.E. lessons are a perfect example of how putting community first and profits last is an investment for the future. His free, daily P.E lessons have made him the nation’s P.E teacher, and a national hero. Not only is he keeping us fit and our children entertained, but he has raised over £80,000 for the NHS by donating his entire marketing revenue to the cause. WARC told us this:

“During a crisis, timing is critical. Determining the appropriate cadence and striking the right balance between commercial and branding messaging will be key. […] Follow the lead of the consumer and adjust your content strategy accordingly. China has a much higher tolerance for sales messaging than the West, and a business-as-usual strategy approach is not advisable for Western markets.”

Now is the time to keep your customers engaged, entertained and informed. If you can do that in their time of need, they’re far more likely to come back and spend when we’re through this.

3. Get creative

“Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.” Ralph Waldo Emerson. The world is online now. Theatres, art galleries, museums and historic sites and attractions can all be toured and explored digitally. So, how can your business best use digital in the short term? Is it by publishing free digital editions like Vogue and Wallpaper Magazine? Is it by hosting free webinars like Positive Luxury or Business of Fashion? Or could you host digital events like The Covid Arms’ standup comedy nights and Friday nights with Walpole?

At a time when the whole nature of how your customer interacts with your brand and product has been taken away, what other ways are there you can you can keep them involved? The best brands have purpose and meaning. This hasn't gone away. You need to find another way to deliver your message and inspire your customer.

4. Stay agile

Your short term response to the crisis may have many lives. What worked for you in mid-March, probably won’t be a long term solution to your business’ longevity. Prepare to dress in many guises during this pandemic. For example, Leon’s timeline looks as follows:

  • 18th March, Leon remains open to the public, offering a 50% discount to NHS workers
  • 25th March, Leon turn their restaurants into mini-supermarkets
  • 27th March, Leon launch FeedNHS, raising over £1m to date
  • 7th April, Leon launch FeedBritain, their food delivery service for ready meals and fresh seasonal produce

Look at what your brand stands for and how your customer views your product. Now is the time to stay true to your values but evolve your business to meet new demands.

In the long term, however, business leaders have more strategic decisions to make. Here are our tips on how to navigate the future of your brand. There will come a time of revenge spending, and the most prepared brands, who have set humane groundwork, will thrive. VERB tell us that “as we come out of the isolation period and some normality returns, brands should be ramping up efforts to remind consumers of their value.”

1. Be patient

In an article on the importance of slowing down to make better decisions, Harvard Business School told us that there are actions that brands need to be taking, “but the decision to act should be based on deliberation, sober reflection on data, and discussion with experts.” Don’t rush into ill-formed decisions. Instead, use this time to reflect and revisit your brand model and brand development plans.

2. Strategise

This kind of strategic brand work is our bread and butter here at Delight. Now is a key time to revisit your brand model and ensure that your brand heart is in the right place. Once you have firm foundations built around this whole new marketing landscape, then you are in a great place to re-evaluate your brand assets.

Daniel Langer, the CEO of Equite, agrees that:

“Companies must remember that if they only define themselves as luxury through expensive prices and beautiful designs, they will quickly be out of the market. Luxury is about extreme value creation, and Added Luxury Value (ALV) — the biggest value component of any luxury brand — is driven by intangible factors that aren’t merely product features.”

3. Re-evaluate your brand assets

Once you have strategised on your brand, it’s time to carry out market research and competitor analysis, and develop your assets accordingly. On the other side of this lies a different marketplace. What have we learnt from this pandemic and how can we operate better coming out of it? Geoffrey James of Inc. tells us that competitors may hunker down, but you should do the opposite:

“Assume that there will eventually be pent-up demand and position yourself to take advantage of it. Invest in new capacity and develop new product concepts. That way, when conditions improve you’ll be ready to rock while your competitors will just be starting to ramp back up.”

4. Go digital

Digital has been crucial in the short term, and it will continue to expand. How will you make the most of new platforms and accessibility? We advise looking at your SEO, paid media and the role that eVents and Live Streaming could play. Currently, videos are on top, but there’s room for creativity. If you are a retail brand then could virtual showrooms and livestream assist with your data collection and communication? Showfields demonstrate how this might work. Have you looked into the future of VR, AR and haptic gloves? The power of digital extends beyond Instagram and TikTok.

5. Prioritise sustainability

In Positive Luxury’s Zoom talk on ‘The Power of Creativity,’ Bay Garnett reminded us that Extinction Rebellion has been calling for radical, drastic action for a time now. Today, the rock has been pulled from our feet, and we plummet into a world where we are forced to live radically and more sustainably. We buy our products online. We aren’t travelling or commuting for work. We are eating more responsibly. We’ve all seen the images of the Venice canals looking clearer, and heard the roar of planes being replaced by the songs of birds. Now, for the sake of the earth, things cannot go back to normal.

Bain & Co explain that this is a time of heightened environmental and social consciousness. Ethics are becoming as important as aesthetics as consumers prioritise purposeful brands whilst re-discovering the benefits of buying locally and seasonally.

Similarly, this feels like a time when we are all prioritising human health. How can we help the vulnerable? How can we ensure that we stay physically and mentally healthy during periods of isolation? How can we ensure that this community mindset isn’t eradicated with the virus, but defines our future?

Bain & Co finish with the optimistic thought that “the crisis may be transforming the luxury industry for good, but it could also be a transformation for the good.”

We would love to hear about how you have navigated the crisis so far, and support you in strategising for the time ahead. We are available over Zoom (what else?!), and look forward to a candid, free chat about your options. Please contact us directly at will@wearedelight.com or dan@wearedelight.com.

Will Shorrocks