The pandemic has forced many brands and businesses to re-strategize, postpone important initiatives or pivot offerings. The core of a brand’s strategy should stand some test of time, meaning that most brands should not have to completely overhaul their strategy for a COVID-19 world. But the ways in which that brand is expressed – through customer experience (CX) strategy, a digital-forward engagement plan, or bespoke content at scale – should be revisited through the lens of today’s important context.

This new normal requires focus on and commitment to three key areas to ensure your brand remains authentic, differentiated, and relevant.

Scenario plan for CX success

Ongoing tracking of cultural trends will help communicators gain better insights in real time, as the context around your customers changes constantly. It’s also important to measure overall sentiment as well as content consumption habits and expectations on a regular basis. When you triangulate this input, you can sketch potential scenarios, better adapt messaging, and plan for ways to evolve and optimize the experience and utility your brand delivers. 

Equally important is keeping a pulse on human behavior and how it changes based on the evolving cultural context. Behavioral science tells us that there are a core set of guiding principles that explain all of human behavior (read about them in our book, Why We Resist). When you understand which motivators are at play, you can build a better experience to help your customers achieve their goals.

Deploy digital in more agile ways

As changes in culture and human behavior drive a different mix of consumption, marketers should adapt accordingly. For example, with digital entertainment spiking, it may make sense to amplify ad-supported premium video streaming or perhaps even mobile gaming.

To quickly pivot creative messages as circumstances change, communicators must consider building more rapid-response models. Consider creating a messaging matrix with tailored content by customer type, mindset and touchpoint. This matrix can fuel digital creative executions quickly as well as give a quick read on what’s working best so you can heavy up investment in high-performing creative. In short, this helps deliver bespoke content at scale.

Ground content in empathy and transparency

While scientific story and rational proof points have a critical part in any brand's strategy, now more than ever we must lead with emotion—humans are emotion-first beings, and it is emotion that drives motivation, the catalyst for any action.

People feel vulnerable right now. Empathy is critical. The nuances of brand voice are more pronounced than ever. Now is not the time to be commercially exploitative or devoid of purpose. Lean into your purpose and emotional core, using it to galvanize your customers around a shared belief system. 

About the Author:

Carolyn Stephenson is SVP of Strategy for Syneos Health Communications. Her unique healthcare perspective is complemented by nearly 20 years of strategy expertise across sectors as varied as retail, financial services and higher education. She has built nationally recognized branding, digital, content and commerce programs for brands like JPMorgan Chase, Nationwide Insurance, EXPRESS, as well as on the agency side with Ologie and SBC Advertising. Her work has been spotlighted in industry publications like Mobile Commerce Daily, Mobile Marketer, and even featured on an NBC reality television show (Fashion Star). But her passion for healthcare is palpable: she’s also a Certified Hormone Specialist and a Precision Nutrition Coach.