Five ways Covid has reshaped marketing and brand connection

  • Brand
  • 22nd June 2021
Written by Adam Barrett Brook

Covid-19 changed the world almost overnight, and we’re still seeing the impact. While some things are slowly getting back to normal, it’s likely that life will never be completely as we knew it before, and nowhere is that seismic shift more obvious than in brand and marketing. As lockdowns increased demand for e-commerce and reduced consumers’ opportunities to physically engage with brands in their day to day lives, something needed to change, and change fast.

At The SME Partners we’ve been helping brands to sharpen and realign their focus throughout the pandemic, whether that be moving a B2B brand to B2C channel, relaunching a product proposition or finding new marketing opportunities for a B2B business.

Here’s what we’ve learned from the Covid-19 crisis, and how we’ll be using those learnings to steer our clients through a post-lockdown world.

#1. Brand is more important than ever

We’ve got more customer data at our fingertips than ever before and tech innovation is moving at pace, but are facts and functionality enough to differentiate you from the competition? Especially at a time when consumers are spending less time in store, and are less likely to discover your product or service by proximity alone. As more and more shoppers embrace e-commerce, brands need to consider how they can build a clear understanding of customer need to be able to set themselves apart and capture their target customers’ attention and affection. Convenience and a slick customer experience are great, but brands still need to hit customers in the heart as well as the head if they want to build long-term advocacy. And marketers need to be constantly surveying the horizon, ready to respond to tech, marketing and cultural trends in a way that feels authentic for their brand.

#2. The cost of digital marketing is rising

Before March 2020, a marketer’s tool box – and budget – needed to cover multiple touchpoints. But when the world went into lockdown, digital became THE way to engage with consumers, who had little else to do but shop and consume content from the comfort of their couch. Great for brands that already have their e-commerce and digital marketing game sorted, but there is a downside. For example, more people browsing social media means cost per engagement increases, so you get less bang for your buck. Pay per click costs get more competitive. And there’s also a cost in terms of resource – customers spending more time consuming content means more content needs to be produced, which can stretch capacity and outsourcing costs to their limit.

#3. Time to move from defence to offence

The pandemic forced many brands to pivot or accelerate their e-commerce strategies to meet consumer demand quicker. After all, there’s nothing like a crisis to light a fire under you. But unlike most crises, Covid-19 doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, and the effect it’s already had on consumer demands and behaviour is clear to see. So, if your brand was lucky enough to survive the pandemic, holding on to loyal customers and adding some new ones, it’s time to use that spirit of innovation to drive growth. Acquisition is a key objective for many brands, and being smart about your marketing to maximise ROI is key to turning your Covid survival strategy into a way to thrive.

#4. New tech is enabling innovation and shifting consumer expectations

While many brands flexed to survive in peak pandemic, others used the opportunity to test the limits of new technologies. From chat bots to manage unprecedented customer demand to augmented and virtual reality content that brought brands to life like never before, tech innovation has given brands new ways to engage with their customers and raised their expectations. And while we may be getting back to bricks and mortar, consumers are likely to expect a more blended approach than ever before, because why would they go back?

#5. Tech + content = connection

The best brands make their customers feel seen and add more to their lives than the immediate benefits their products and services bring. And while much of that added value once came from the in-store experience and seeing a product with your own eyes, that instant appraisal and validation has – in many cases – been removed by Covid-19. So, brands need to work harder to make sure they can find, speak to and serve their customers in a way that works for them. Clever, relevant tech and content that’s well planned, targeted and perfectly delivered hold the key, but brands need to be clear on their objectives to deliver a strategy that gives customers the experience they’re looking for. There’s no ‘one size fits all approach’ – every business and brand needs to carve its own path.

Need expert advice to shape your approach to brand and marketing in a post-lockdown world? Get in touch at We offer a free consultation for brands big and small!