As the Coronavirus crisis hurtles on, many brands have disappeared from the rearview mirror. Sporting franchises, high street retailers, restaurant chains. While we hope to see them again, for now, some other brands have assumed a much more prominent role in our lives.
Brands that deliver—literally or virtually—at-home experiences have come to dominate our suddenly-narrowed brandscape, along with those that have suddenly moved from the realm of the discretionary to the essential. The ascendancy of Netflix appears complete; Deliveroo dominates, and Ocado appears almost akin to the fourth emergency service.
This raises a question as we look beyond the current, difficult time. Will the brands we are relying on now like never before command long-term loyalty, or will we want to put maximum distance between ourselves and Netflix serials, eschew Deliveroo for dine-out, and reject online retail in favor of a trip to the shops?
On the one hand, it’s human nature to reject brands that—purely through their very usefulness at a time of particular need—become associated with distressing times in our lives. On the other, we can build a particularly deep emotional connection with the brands that tide us through tough days.
Like so many things right now, it’s difficult to predict the trajectory the most prominent brands in the here and now will take post-crisis.
That said, it’s a fair bet that the brands that have demonstrated their usefulness will be well-positioned to prosper. Just as the involvement of the Mercedes F1 team in ventilator design takes that brand out of the paddock and into primary care, so the brands we consider most useful in our temporarily altered every day lives may see long-term benefits.
For other brands, it may be more about charting a path for tomorrow through innovation today. If a current offer becomes over-saturated in the here and now, how can the brand plan to extend and evolve? How, for example, can a brand such as Netflix extend from putting the play into WFH, to respond to a renewed desire for immersive physical experiences IRL?
There is one thing we can be sure of. When the floodlights switch back on, as shop windows move on from the resort season that never was, and as the noise of orders shouted over the pass resumes, the brands that dominate today will almost certainly never occupy such a position of prominence again.
James Withey is our Executive Director, EMEA.