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Delivering Post-Pandemic Brand Experiences: Three Steps to Conquer COVID-19’s New Normal

Jonathan IrickApril 09, 2020 / 4 min read

There’s no question that tomorrow’s new normal will be abnormal.

COVID-19 has disrupted every aspect of life. We’re unsettled and uncertain. But there’s an upside to the crisis, too: a future full of possibilities. At Ziba, we’re asking ourselves and our clients… How might we harness today’s hardships as catalysts for new and better experiences tomorrow? What experiences will hold meaning? What will it mean to thrive?

How will travel change? Will the gate agent test us for COVID-19 before we board? Will our server bring our date night dinner out to the curb while we dine in the car? Will Zoom offer subscribers free anti-glare glasses? Will there be a Zoom at all?

Turn the Great Pause into your brand’s Great Pivot: Three Steps to Conquer COVID-19

Dominant brands will convert today’s Great Pause into the Great Pivot, recalibrating today to design breakthroughs and meaningful customer experiences for tomorrow. Under immense pressure to reopen, respond appropriately, and reboot quickly, brands are thinking beyond the immediate next steps. What might the path forward be for the post-pandemic experiences that brands deliver? What stays, what goes, what evolves, and what is reinvented?

Ziba’s pragmatic Revive, Strive, and Thrive process frames actions you can take in the new post-pandemic normal:

1. Revive

Brand Mindset: Move Fast & Make Safe!

Timeframe: 0–6 months

As anxious consumers emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, their need to reestablish a sense of safety, security, and control will affect what they value. Robert Iger, Disney’s executive chairman, recently stated, “To return to some semblance of normal, people will have to feel comfortable that they’re safe.”

Brands that Revive to mitigate risk and temper anxiety will be highly valued by consumers and employees.

Tactics: To alleviate consumer fears, remain relevant, and get business back on line, brands need to:

  • Focus on the rapid roll-out of reassuring offerings that mitigate fear and augment a sense of safety
  • Embrace the possibility of prolonged social-distancing by supporting social distancing preferences including contactless delivery/pick-up and virtual/digital services
  • And mobilize for re-engagement with reassuring communication/packaging, adjusted staffing roles/models, new hygiene behavior protocols, and by reassessing/redesigning campaigns and calendars

2. Strive

Brand Mindset: Make Strategic Pivot(s)

Timeframe: 6–12 months post-Pause

Though a fear-based self-preservation mentality will persist, consumers will increasingly respond to brands that also surprise and delight them. Successful organizations will Strive to evolve their brands, products, and service experiences in anticipation of these behavior shifts — this return to the value of convenience, the insistence on competitive prices, the need to indulge, and a desire to belong.

Tactics: To leverage insights around emerging behaviors, desires, and expectations, brands need to:

  • Shift from ‘reacting’ to ‘understanding’
  • Reassess the competitive landscape to understand how things have shifted by taking a fresh read on how a brand is perceived in a post COVID-19 world
  • Take advantage of the post-pandemic landscape by rebuilding for the new normal and charting a path within it: identify white space, explore and test new features/offerings/experiences, adapt strategies for the mid to long term

3. Thrive

Brand Mindset: Experiment & Scale

Timeframe: 12+ months post-Pause

As the new normal takes root, responsive brands will Thrive in the post-pandemic consumer landscape, leaning into white space and scaling accordingly. Pre-COVID-19 behaviors and trends will re-emerge and hyper-accelerate. Be ready, start experimenting. As social-distancing disappears and our bubbles expand to their pre-COVID-19 forms, we will long for a sense of connection and belonging, and begin to aspire to higher-order desires around freedom, self-transcendence and self-actualization.

Tactics: To leverage the new normal, brands need to:

  • Seize white space and create demand by experimenting with emerging consumer needs, desires and behaviors
  • Stand up then scale new offerings and interactions identified in Strive that pivot your experiences beyond the functional
  • And revisit pre-pandemic visions and strategies, and embracing, incorporating, and modifying them to meet consumers’ higher order desires and expectations

Brands that Revive and Strive to leverage Post-COVID-19 opportunities will Thrive.

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