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September 14, 2020   |   5 min read

Turn Downtime Into Brand Transformation

Ryan James   |   Creative & UX Copywriter

Why and how to make it happen against all odds.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a global corporation or a local high street shop that’s been around for decades. Every business in 2020—some more than others—has felt the profound and lasting impact of COVID-19. Brands enduring the onslaught of reduced foot traffic, supply chain setbacks and other obstacles have dropped into limbo. The thing about marketing teams, though, isn’t that they’re low on work or waiting for it to be business as usual again. They just need to switch gears for this moment.

Think about what it was like in the pre-pandemic work days. It was busy with meetings, deadlines, quick stops for coffee, then more deadlines. Leaders cite time, or the lack of it, among the top reasons why they struggle to get ahead. And they don’t mean “get ahead” in the sense of finishing that weekly report. They mean more lofty goals like rebranding, shifting strategy or introducing design features that today’s customers demand like Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store (which we did for our friends at Big Lots).

The ever-looming minute hands are what hold even the biggest names back from reaching toward future growth. But now, you likely have more resources and brain share to devote to the big business opportunities. Successful brands will be hard at work plotting their next moves. Pivoting idle time to productive planning and execution is your best chance at coming out the other side stronger than you entered.

 

Make It Easier for You and Your Consumers

Consumer mindsets have been undeniably changed by the pandemic. We covered that and the implications for businesses in our data-packed piece Where Retail Is Headed Next. Health anxiety and caution isn’t going to disappear overnight, even if a vaccine becomes readily available before the end of the year. More so, consumers are being trained—perhaps even forced—to adopt new technologies that might just become their go-to preferences from now on. Pickup options, like mentioned earlier, are a great example of this as are quick shipping offers.

Companies that haven’t invested at all in this functionality will continue struggling to catchup. Those with half-baked CX solutions that don’t actually work are only hurting their reputation and bottom line. Now is the time to implement important features that can help boost sales while winning over new customers who care about convenience and safety more than they likely had to before.

 

Invest In SEO to Regain Lost Traffic

Saturated doesn’t even begin to describe digital channels at present. Not surprisingly, search volume has increased due to more people working at home and with fewer forms of entertainment to call upon. And that’s exactly where we see high traffic going, to The Essential (think grocery shopping or health news) and The Escapist (think social media or streaming video). What if your company, like a lot of companies, doesn’t offer hand sanitizer or the welcome distraction of an online quiz? How in the world are you expected to stand out among these extreme poles? SEO—that’s how!

Kim Towne, Director of Analytics, says “Prioritizing SEO during downtime is an investment in your long-term success—and like all good things, it takes time.” She recommends revisiting your SEO strategy while there’s ample time to build it around sustained gains and qualified traffic. If your product or service is suddenly in-demand, you already know how critical it is to edge out competitors during this period of intense supply vs. demand. If your business is closed or reopening in phases, you need to “set the stage” for when you reemerge and keep consumers up to date along the way.

We’re all spending a lot more time on our computers, phones and voice-enabled devices. We’re relying on them to navigate the daily routine in ways that we weren’t before. This puts a heavy reliance on search that we expect will stay that way for quite some time. Don’t get stuck trying to win the game at the buzzer.

 

Take Content Ideas Off the Backburner

Back when things looked decidedly more normal, it wasn’t uncommon for creative initiatives to be delayed in favor of clashing projects. Don’t think creative means just your art-minded experts either—though it certainly starts there. Plans for that debut company podcast or research-driven blog series can and should be followed through on right now (and not solely for employees to have something to work on and fill their days).

When done right, these projects can hold a significant ROI in the attention they might earn or the quality leads they might generate. But, it’s more than that. They’re fun. If there’s anything teams could use right now, it’s a collaborative effort that gets their minds tinkering and rallied around something exciting (and capable of informing other workstreams).

Kate Miller, Art Director, agrees by reminding us that “Creativity is the link between business challenges and human solutions. Exploring creative ideas in your business and outside of work can be powerful—it gives you energy and opens your mind to different perspectives. We’re all trying to take better care of our mental health during this pandemic. Creative initiatives are good for that too."

 

Finally Commit to an ADA-Compliant Site

COVID-19 has brought the idea of health and its institutions back to the cultural consciousness. In an interesting report from Deque, “62% of accessibility practitioners surveyed in March and April 2020 reported that COVID-19 has raised the awareness and impact of accessibility on the digital channel.” With more people turning to websites for everyday needs, there are inherently more people with disabilities accessing them than before—users who need ADA-Compliant features that help them perceive, understand, navigate and interact with these experiences.

This is more than a legal requirement covered under the Americans Disability Act (ADA) according to Chelsea Lord, Senior Art Director and UX Specialist. She maintains “You should want your site to be equally seamless for all users. Let’s not lose sight of our customers’ loyalty and user expectations. Let’s do a bit of upkeep and improvement ourselves.”

 

We’re Here to Help with Your Transformation

Contact us for guidance and implementation of anything you’ve just read. Planning ahead and making the most of this moment in time—especially if you’re experiencing a lull in business—can be the deciding factor in where you go next. We think it’s going to be an even stronger iteration of what came before.

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