Friday 25 September, 2020

By Rachel Hughes

On my last day before maternity leave in July 2019, as I put my out of office on, I wondered what changes would take place both personally and professionally over the following year. I wondered what returning to the office after a year off on baby duty would feel like, what new faces would be greeting me upon my return and what new challenges would await me. I even wondered if I’d get to keep my coveted window seat or if someone would swoop in and take it whilst I was away!

Never in a million years could I have anticipated that my first day back (although it would include a window seat) would actually be in my living room and that the world outside would have changed in such a profound way.

Since coming back I’ve been digesting a lot of research into how the COVID-19 crisis has affected consumer attitudes and behaviour. I’m finding that in the face of this threat, there are so many opportunities too. In fact, the word ‘crisis’ itself comes from the Greek word ‘krisis’ which means ‘decisive moment’, and it does feel like a decisive moment for us all.

There has been much talk about ‘the great reset’, wherein consumers, businesses and political leaders have an opportunity to reflect and change course, and at this point, to simply ‘go back to normal’ would feel like a waste of that opportunity.

Now is a great time to revisit the fundamentals of your brand and question if it’s time to reset. There are three simple questions to ask:

Where have we been?

Where are we now?

Where do we want to go?

  1. Where have we been?

In communications, things often move so quickly that there isn’t adequate time to reflect on what has been working and what hasn’t, and crucially to really get under the skin of why. Taking the time to take stock is important to make sure the learnings are really captured and understood before moving forward, and what better time to start?

  1. Where are we now?

So how has the landscape changed? It has been astounding how trends have accelerated during this crisis; for example, it is thought that we vaulted forward five years in digital adoption in the space of eight weeks (and I’m not just talking about granny learning how to ‘zoom’). This has huge implications for media habits and our understanding of customer journeys, which may have fundamentally changed since the last time you checked!

  1. Where do we want to go?

Given we have never lived with as much uncertainty as we are living with now, this can be an incredibly daunting question. However, arming yourself with the right insight can give you the extra reassurance needed to take decisions around your brand vision and the value you can bring to consumers as they carve out their lives in ‘the new normal’. It could be that post-COVID your brand may take on a new relevance, and now is the time to seize it.

So, there they are – three simple but powerful questions to help you assess if you need a reset.

We are keeping a close eye on the latest research developments across our clients’ sectors and consumer behaviour using our vast knowledge bank, including Mintel, The Future Laboratory, Brandwatch and TGI. We are also starting to run ‘Solve Sessions’ with our clients, wherein we focus deeply on a burning issue and through the power of insight and getting the right mix of skills in a room, we get to the right solutions together.

It’s great to be back, so get in touch if you want to update your insights, talk about potential issues that are ripe for a Solve Session, or even just to say hello!

Rachel is Associate Planning Director for Weber Shandwick Scotland. She is responsible for using deep customer insights to develop ideas that capture audience’s attentions, inspire behaviour change and deliver positive outcomes for our clients’ businesses. Contact Rachel at