Why now is the time to rethink your branding

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the dynamics of doing business where giving back to your community

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Branding in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic has become a subject of interest among my acquaintances and friends. It’s become arguably more relevant now than before as the crisis pushed people to question whether their businesses will survive the pandemic-induced slowdown and the period post the pandemic.

A brand more than just a name, and logo, translates your brand’s mission, and purpose to the public. In a nutshell, it tells your story and shapes the perception of your business. A great brand communicates its mission, it does that effectively and doesn’t need to work hard for customers to identify that.

As the Covid-19 crisis is still not behind us, the pressure on businesses to address the new normal is immense. That makes it more important to consider branding, especially if your business has been negatively impacted by the crisis. You may think that it is not possible to re-brand during a pandemic.

Though re-branding always has its downsides, especially if you come up with a completely new identity, your customers could help point you in the right direction. This why it is particularly important, during these times, to have your re-branding conversation outside your company’s parameters and right with your customers.

Ask your customers what they expect from a business like yours at this time and after, how you can help provide them with the solutions they are looking for if that’s relevant, and what would make them favour one brand over another.

Your marketing and communication efforts should match the exercise. While your marketing objectives in the past may have been driven by sales targets, communication during times like these should revolve around the community.

Focus on your brand’s offering, and how it could support the community and make sure that your customers know that. If you brand is supporting local farmers, then you can communicate as to how customers can support farmers and their families by conducting business with you.

How we communicate with our clients and community during these hard times, will help with brand positioning post the pandemic.

When social distancing measures were implemented a several months back, cafes and restaurants in the UAE had to find a new way to adapt and be practical. Fae Café, an Emirati café and restaurant, not only adapted, but found a way to be useful to the community. The management dedicated its kitchen during Ramadan to prepare meals for Abu Dhabi’s community members.

Fae’s story was shared on social media by different users which increased awareness of the brand.

Online publications and conventional news organisations with paywalls, are providing Covid-19 related material free of charge. These businesses weren’t only flexible with change, but also supported their community. That made them more appealing and respected by their clients.

Etihad Airways brought the in-flight dining experience to some of its clients last Ramadan by sending them a box of ingredients and cooking instructions for a meal prepared by their in-flight chefs.

Several restaurants are also preparing boxes with cooking instructions for their clients to purchase and enjoy a cooking experience at home.

Rawazin, a bookstore dedicated to Arabic publications in Oman introduced express book delivery options for clients across the country, even in the most remote parts of the country. By doing so they remained relevant and operational even when their shop was closed.

Branding as an exercise has completely shifted during Covid-19. In the past, businesses and marketeers prioritised sales, and profits. The crisis, however, has emphasised the importance of practicality, flexibility, usefulness of a brand and the importance of being community centric.

If your brand does not take account of these elements, it is time to go back to the drawing board and re-think your branding.

Now more than ever, customers are tuned in online. That means they know which brands are driven by a strong purpose, have a sense of responsibility towards their community. Invariably the things that mattered less in the past matter more today and will influence the relationship of an existing or potential customer with your business.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi