Phew! A month into 2021, and it’s started where 2020 left off. We’d barely caught our collective breath after an intensely busy year when the government introduced new lockdown regulations just before the new year. It was all hands on deck as we revised social media content across multiple hospitality brands, prepared contingency posts and fielded queries from the public who wanted to know whether our clients were still open.
Now that we’re getting a clearer sense of how 2021 may pan out, we’ve been working with our clients on the following broad factors that will influence how we handle their brands.
Covid is going to rule 2021
Remember the good old days, when some experts assumed that Covid infections would abate in the warmer summer months? How wrong they were. Now that we’re seeing a second wave in the middle of summer, along with the double-whammy of a more infectious variant, it’s clear that Covid is going to be the primary factor in brand planning for many months to come.
Make contingency plans sooner rather than later
We have contingency communication plans for all our brands, which are affected by Covid and lockdown in different ways. While we have scenarios in place for all lockdown levels, we’re also looking at how to keep relationships ticking until such time as something even vaguely resembling business as usual returns.
On that note…
Business as usual is not coming back
Any business that assumes we can go back to doing things the way we were in February 2020 is a business that will not survive. We have now become accustomed to updating opening hours and operating procedures at short notice. The businesses that survive will be agile and always on the lookout for opportunities to be relevant.
Consider the emotional as well as the economic impact
Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s a lot less money circulating in the economy. This inevitably has an impact, as we have to work that much harder to position our client brands as relevant to people with less to spend. But the pandemic has also had a significant emotional impact on our target markets. Take the idea of ‘home’, for example. In the past, this might have been a sanctuary. Now, thanks to lockdown, home is also a prison for many. Every time we look at a campaign for a client, we think about the emotional space the target prospect is likely to be in, and how we can craft a message that is relevant to their emotional as well as economic state. Brand communication has a role to play in providing a lift, no matter how small, in the midst of events that are scary, overwhelming and seemingly without an end in sight.
Last but not least
This is relevant for both agencies and clients: staying sane is an art in 2021. Even though we’ve become used to working in lockdown with loadshedding for added flavour, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. We tackle this by holding Friday drinks and playing 30 Seconds on Zoom, as well as sharing memes and checking in with each other. In the midst of pandemic, mental health is just as important as physical health.
Overall, we’re confident about 2021. Last year was a very steep learning curve for both ourselves and our clients, and we surprised and delighted ourselves at how well we coped.