Digital Branding

Rebuilding Brands After the Calamity

Written by
Sebastian Jespersen
Rebuilding Brands After the Calamity

The Covid-19 pandemic, in just a few months’ time, has forever changed aspects of human behavior across the entire planet. It is destined to be the biggest event of our lifetimes.

Anyone in business today faces a challenge on the scale of what was last seen in the Great Depression almost a century ago.

It is hard to imagine what will be left unchanged a few years from now. How far will the stay-at-home era take us into a virtual existence?

What we do know is that the digital technology revolution has been with us for a long time. It was wholly altering daily life even before we heard about a scary new virus. E-commerce, streaming video, online food ordering, virtual money and the incredible benefits of AI were already part of our lives.

People no longer simply went online. They began living online. Studies showed individuals spending 50% of the day in front of one screen or another.

Now, because of the Corona virus, dependence on the internet is intensifying. People in the hundreds of millions drastically changed their daily life while restricted to home. With movie theaters closed and Hollywood films instead streamed, getting entertainment may change forever.

The pandemic is accelerating our involvement with Alexa, Siri. and the other voice activated digital assistants. Shopping online is seeing explosive growth. Amazon’s lagging grocery sales went through the roof. Peloton’s home workout system, after a shaky IPO, is thriving. Shopify’s revenue from selling goods online is up 47% from the same quarter a year ago.

The constant that is shaping our lives is the rise of an internet-driven existence in every country on the planet. The winners during and after the Covid-19 nightmare will be the brands with a meaningful presence in the customer’s digital world.

The new reality starts with a game plan that weaves your brand into the fabric of your customer’s online existence. That’s how you gain Share-of- Life™ in what will be the next normal in customer relationship marketing.

Think of the Share-of-Life™ mandate as the depth of your brand’s involvement in the customer’s multi-screen day. The Fab5 titans of the internet – Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Google – are the global champions in owning an ever-growing Share-of-Life™ with each individual customer.

One measure of the Fab5 success story is crystal clear. Just take a look at the stock market. The combined worth of the Fab5 has grown to well over $5 trillion. They make up a startling 18% of the S&P 500. As powerful as they are, there still is room for the rest of us to prosper by doing the right thing. We can boost our own Share-of-Life™ with the customers in our particular category.

What’s critical is how many minutes or hours a day a company spends making life better for customers. It is more vital today than ever before. It will remain the constant for keeping ahead of the competition after the economy reopens entirely.

The key question: How does a business gain an enduring, mutually rewarding relationship with customers in the current crisis and what will follow?

The starting point is a boost in the extent of Share-of-Life™ online with consumers or business customers. There is a five-part process any company can follow, known as the Share-of-Life™ C.R.E.E.D. These are the precepts for making your brand an integral part of a person’s experience online and offline.

The guidelines for gaining Share-of-Life™ are to Secure Ongoing Commitment . . .Provide Nonstop Reinforcement . . . Create Digital Empowerment . . . Renew Original Excitement . . . Drive Major Development.

Amazon’s Prime membership program secures an annual ongoing commitment from more than a hundred million U.S. members. It is the innovation that triggered the spectacular growth of the brand. It is also the not-so-secret weapon in the brand’s adaptation to the destructive virus.

Jeff Bezos has Amazon developing a process that will allow Prime members to test for the coronavirus at home. Thinking big is part of the brand’s footprint.

The best pathway to getting an ongoing commitment from a prospect is a subscription to delivery month after month with a credit card payment. Continuity programs are the business model for a wide range of pacesetters in the digital economy. There is Stitch Fix for clothing, Peloton for staying fit, BarkBox for dog treats, Spotify for music, Netflix for video, YouTube for learning videos, Zoom for business meetings and a parade of competitors to all of the above. Brands with signed on members are doing well at this stressful moment for every company doing business or trying to stay relevant.

Finding a way to provide non-stop reinforcement of the customer relationship is more important than ever. Ground breakers are finding ways to help customers cope with the Covid-19 disaster. Allstate was the first to give auto insurance policyholders a break. With customers not driving as much there were fewer accidents. Allstate announced a 15% monthly premium giveback. Sharing the savings with customers reinforced feeling good about the brand at a difficult time.

Google is helping business owners stay open remotely. The internet giant is making its re-engineered Google Meet service available free for everyone. This is welcome news for its business clients.

Creating Digital Empowerment for your customers is fundamental to gaining Share-of-Life™. Apple and Google formed a rare partnership to empower about a third of the world’s population -- 3 billion people -- in the battle against the coronavirus.

This unprecedented move brings contact-tracing technology to their smartphone platforms. The app will tell a user when he or she should be isolated after contact with an infected person.

When the new technology is ready to empower people to save lives, both Apple and Google will get a well-deserved lift.

Another tenet of the Share-of-Life™ creed is the need to rekindle the excitement that first surrounds a breakthrough product or service. Constant renewal of the original excitement is needed to protect the brand’s Share-of–Life™ from being overwhelmed by internet clutter. What comes to mind when looking to renew the excitement is Apple’s iPhone. The hoopla surrounding the new model each year recreates the original buzz again and again.

Last but far from least in the Share-of-Life creed is the continuing drive for major development. Few handle expanding into new categories better than the brand Mickey Mouse made famous.

The recent Disney Plus entry into streaming video nabbed more than 50 million global subscribers in the wink of an eye. It’s one more major development driving the company’s dazzling growth. The pandemic made it necessary to close Disney’s outdoor theme parks. But it also moved a vast library of video entertainment into viewing at home.

Putting to use the principles underlying the Share-of-Life™ doctrine is going to be a constant of the post-Covid economy.

Every day brings news of developments that would have seemed impossible just a few months ago. Who could have predicted all public gatherings cancelled (including all sport events)? Trillions of dollars in stimulus coming from the Fed with no end in sight. Landlords not collecting rent. Mortgage payments forgiven. The U.S. and New York City at the epicenter of the calamity.

On one hand, the optimists tell us that reopening the economy will set the stage for a new boom. On the other hand, some experts warn of facing “the darkest winter in modern times.”

When making our business decisions, we do not know if the next “new normal” is going to be dangerous to us or not. The huge extent of what is novel at this moment makes it one of the most fearful times humanity has faced. For those who rebuild their brands for these uncertain times it can also be a time of unusual opportunity.

We can start by identifying the constants that still can be relied upon. Then innovate as never before. With so much at stake, taking big risks to deal with big changes in behavior is just plain common sense.

Stay safe and do well.

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