Commentary

What's Next for Brands Amid COVID-19?

In the past seven weeks, the marketing and advertising industry has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with a level of urgency the modern world has never seen before. 

Many brands have done this successfully by absorbing the shock of the shut-down and reconnecting with their brand purpose. As the COVID-19 curve is just beginning to level and the government considers ways to reopen the economy, it is clear that the next phase of responding to the impact of the pandemic is here.  

For the second time this year, many in the industry are again faced with identifying what’s next. Now is the time for brands to anticipate the inevitable transition from triage to stabilization and ultimately, transformation – with a source of clarity.  

Thankfully, new ways of getting work done today will help influence how we will work tomorrow.  With organizations taking decisive actions and pivoting current business priorities, many are focused on the long-term and the ways we work will likely never be the same. 

Today, teams remain focused on what people need as the timeline for how long they will engage with a particular message will continue to shift according to the changing effects of the pandemic. Remaining committed to reevaluating current conditions will help sharpen a team’s focus not only because timing and tone is the key to achieving resonance, but especially because there is no one-size-fits-all answer.  

As we go forward, we must also take stock of where the industry is hurting most. Today’s financial strain will continue to drive difficult decisions, yet in these moments, it is often forgotten that when budding talent suffers today, the industry’s impact will suffer tomorrow. At the 4As, for example, we recently revamped and recommitted to our Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) - creating a virtual experience where next generation talent will continue to be matched with agencies across the country.  

There is more than one “right” way to guide your team into the next phase of great creative work during the pandemic. 

Here are my proposed methods for moving forward together: 

It’s All About The Long-Term: There can and will be many benefits to accepting short-term pain for long-term gain. It will be important to look towards the future for new ways of working and reallocation of resources to drive your mission forward. 

Focus on Substance Over Sales: The world at large is deeply lacking connection right now. Taking action and changing the public dialogue from one geared toward making money to forging meaningful connections. Consider what you want to be remembered for following the pandemic. 

Recommit to Your Purpose: While the tone of the conversation has changed, your voice doesn’t have to. Here is an opportunity to show how your brand is different and sticks to its values, purpose, and culture. 

People, People, People: Today, we must focus on taking care of and supporting our people at all levels. Now is the time to be empathetic, give back to the greater good, and uphold the values that make your organization unique. 

Identify New Ways To Collaborate: Podcasts, webinars, video series… The list of breakout methods for getting connected and promoting your brand is endless. Find new channels of communication and connection that achieves your new objectives. 

Adjusting, responding, and looking to the future as one full of prospects for growth will not only prepare you for the unknown to come, but also set teams up for success. In helping brands and their agency partners anticipate what these unprecedented times will bring, we at the 4A’s are continuing to provide the tools, resources and advice to support the industry at large. This is an opportunity for agencies to provide partnership and guidance to help the brands that they serve through the pandemic. After all, responding to challenges is what our industry does best.

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