July 08, 2021
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the economic shutdowns resulted in a severe blow to people, organisations and brands alike. Undoubtedly, this impacted the spending power and freedom consumers once had. The uncertain futures require us to begin the process of sense-making and learning to paddle with what we have.
Focus on the brand vision and brand promise
No matter what the storm is, marketers must remain steadfast on the brand promise and vision. Often, during trying times brand managers and marketers go into a panic mode and start to fiddle with brand propositions, positioning and even brand essence when it this is not necessarily the solution. As we move to recovery in many parts of the world, aligning your brand to the circumstances presented by the pandemic is crucial. Find ways for your brand or organisation to be purposeful and see how to respond to the aftermath of the pandemic in a way that is relevant and yet consistent to the brand proposition.
Be resolute and opt to introduce new mechanisms and tools that are aligned with the brand vision and positioning whilst remaining relevant and responsive to the challenges.
Trust your brand even if it doesn’t make sense
It takes a long time to build strong, sustainable brands and panic shouldn’t be in the vocabulary of strong brands however changing the game plan or strategy is the safest approach.
Trust your brand to see you through the tough times. Bring added value into the equation, be reliable and consistent that way customers will find many reasons to continue buying your brand. No pandemic formed against you shall prosper when you get these “brand trust” basics right.
Remember without trust and faith in your brand, it is impossible to see greatness and the future.
See the supernatural in all situations
Ever heard of a saying that tough times give birth to new solutions? When the going gets tough, the tough gets going? This is the attitude to keep in mind, even after the pandemic passes. The work is only getting started.
The mind can overcome any challenge and this is true when one considers the fact that there is also a mindset that is able to invent new solutions during a storm and mindset that can invent new solutions in the era of the new norm.
The truth of the matter is that things are not the same, more people are working remotely, consumer spending continues to drop, consumers look for solutions and quality at reasonable prices. It’s inevitable that change in behaviour will definitely have an impact on how consumers use certain products and services. There is certainly a new way of doing things which means there is in an opportunity for supernatural innovation that delivers on the brand promise whilst addressing or seeking to fulfil the changing needs.
The big question is: what solutions, what innovation? will marketers and CMO’s bring forth in line with this new norm?
Surround yourself with consumers, customers and stakeholders committed to the same goal/vision
In life when you want to win, you surround yourself with successful people, visionaries. Similarly, marketers ought to learn from each other. The days of trying to be a loner because of fear of information sharing or information loss are over. Marketers must champion thought provoking conversations that seek to provide consumer and customer focused solutions. In fact, I believe best marketers are born from having honest and thought provoking dialogue instead of independently trying to make sense of research
Be a champion of your customers, know and understand their brand/business value propositions, start now.
The pandemic has taught us a lesson that we are all equal before Mother Nature and we primarily depend on each other for survival and growth. This reinforces the belief that we(as marketers and CMO’s) need to rise above all man-made differences, prejudices, and barriers and come up with solutions for the world.
Sithembile Ntombela is the Head of Marketing at Brand South Africa. She has extensive classical marketing experience in FMCG, brand management, strategy development, global marketing, and destination marketing. With 20 years’ experience in Marketing, she has held senior managerial positions at Nampak Tissues, Foodcorp, Tiger Brands, Unilever and Pioneer Foods. The experience from these diverse companies has enabled her to deal with complex business environments and projects.
Her experiences include developing and implementing impactful, successful and sustainable brand strategies. Sithembile completed her Marketing undergraduate qualification at Mangosuthu University of Technology in KZN. She later pursued a Post Graduate National Diploma in Marketing and BPHIL Honours in Marketing through the Institute of Marketing Management. She is currently completing her Masters in Commerce through MANCOSA.
She is a Chartered Marketer (CM-SA) with the Marketing Association of South Africa(MASA) and a member of Black Management Forum. Sithembile’s ethos is about discovering talent and inspiration in ordinary people that have made extra ordinary impact in the society. She is a mentor to many, possesses great leadership qualities. She has judged prestigious events local and international.
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