As some brands take the hit and face a serious challenge in keeping their businesses afloat, we assess the rise of a new standard that brands should get into and maximize: the digital space.
Words by Reena Mesias
Illustrations by Lazir Caluya
The pandemic has reshaped the way businesses exist and function. We are seeing economies slow down and commerce being disrupted in its entire expanse that it poses bigger challenges for businesses to stay in good shape.
As we adapt to the new realities of the coronavirus, what became an urgent need and demand for brands is the shift to digital. And what digitalizing suddenly means for marketers, entrepreneurs, and content creators is connection as it opens up a new channel for relationships to be built. It means adaptability, a key factor in resilience for a business. It means strength in how they are able to bring the brand’s sensibilities and nuances online.
Below is a discussion of the capabilities and the cultivation brought about by digital. Meet the brands that have already embraced the shift, and which approaches are impacting their success in coping with coronavirus, and whatever happens afterwards.
Campaigns and content
Navigating through a digital world means reevaluating and being responsible with your communications to champion strong connections. If anything, this will have to be the first thing a brand should revisit at this time. Nike approached the pandemic like an athlete would: with so much spirit. Through the Play Inside campaign, the brand tapped its batch of Nike athletes to spread the “Play for the World” message about social distancing. At the same time, they maximized the potential of content by providing free digital resources for people to stay active indoors.
Where To Next released their very uplifting Stories of Hope series (IG, Google Form) that also allows everyone to submit personal stories that can spread positivity and faith during this time.
Special mentions: Hershey.Co, Kontra Covid, Simply Skin
Forge a community
Some brands that started and are known for how they best used physical spaces to build the sense of community have also initiated more efforts online.
Muni has been consistently churning out relevant and significant online events that tackle various subjects like growing food at home and mental health, discussions we need to be surrounded by more. It also ties in with their podcast, another digital platform.
Women-focused and co-working space collective and club The Winghas fostered a 24/7 digital community of over 12,000 members for everything that the brand stands for: support, friendship, personal and professional development, amongst many others. Through the World Wide Wing, members can receive virtual gift packs, an expansive perk program, and free content to connect with each other and lift the spirits during this time.
Special mentions: creatively.life, Shelter Fund
Business models and product expansions
For a number of retailers like fitness and gym brands that have closed physical shops, they’ve made the massive pivot to digitizing platforms. ClassPass started taking on an advocacy role for the fitness and health industry and brought back its previously discontinued ClassPass Live to allow coaches, fitness trainers and studios to stream workouts and wellness sessions.
Vania Romoff expanded to an Essentials line to adapt to changing needs while staying true to her identity as a designer. What makes hers meaningful is that she was able to cleverly and subtly integrate her signature feminine flourishes in non-medical grade protective outerwear that are made with synthetic tafetta/microfiber. The most accessibly priced out of all her designs, the collection was promoted over Instagram and made available online until it sold out in less than 10 minutes.
E-commerce and logistics
Another obvious industry that was hit is the food and beverage industry, wherein most restaurants—and grocery stores—are forced to focus on carryout and delivery. There are the obvious digital grocery apps among many others like Instacart and Metromart. But what really stood out for us was MAD Market, an online marketplace started by a local sustainable travel company MAD Travel. By getting healthy and affordable food and produce to people, MAD Market gets to support farmers and SMEs (also falls under point #6 in the list).
Gulay Para sa Lahat by Good Food Community is a vegetable home subscription service that forgoes choice of what goes in each order and shares the risk of each shipment to the metro. They update a Gulay Board with what’s in the coming week’s delivery + recipes you can do with what’s available.
Special mentions: Simple Roots
Education, experience, and events
The education sector has also been disrupted. Video recording tool Loom‘s mission is “to empower everyone at work and communicate more effectively where they are.” They’ve made significant and permanent adjustments to their plans and pricing, but most important is they have made Loom Pro free for teachers and students.
While not a business, it’s worth mentioning that locally, NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts) spearheaded 2 online talks for National Heritage Month where topics like cultural mapping, national celebrations, and heritage in the new normal were discussed.
Special mentions: IBM Think Digital
In whatever digital way it’s possible, really
Woven’s Bahay Kubo Garden has partnered with SEARCH Foundation for the Bahay Kubo Program, where portions of proceeds bought online will go to funding garden kits so food security is more stable, giving seeds instead of food packs to rural communities.
For us, Serious Studio, we also took it upon ourselves to do our part online and do it well for the industry through Brand Aid, a digital (for now) brand-building mentorship program that aims to help COVID-19 affected SMEs troubleshoot today, in order to future-proof tomorrow.
Special mentions: Help From Home, GCash, Lingap Maralita by Good Food Community
A post-pandemic world calls for transformation. And if a brand is able to see through these digital advantages, digital will finally be more than just an emergency fill-in and will be the new standard for everyone—brands and consumers alike. But remember that rising to a new standard won’t come to full effect if businesses don’t hone their branding and their message. More than ever, it’s important that brands are not only strategic about these shifts, but they also need to have been purpose-driven in the first place.
💡 Thought-Starters for Digital Shifters 💡
Because of increasing barriers for face-to-face businesses, it’s crucial to look at all spectrums of the business. Here are a few things to consider before going digital.
1. Is adapting to digital an opportunity to go above and beyond?
2. Do you have the capacity and budget to begin or improve your digital efforts
3. Which multi-channels online do you need to consider?
4. Is this possible digital shift a short-term or long-term direction for your business?
5. Have your customers adopted new behaviors and habits that digital efforts can answer? Where can you find them online?