4 Ways Brands Are Pivoting During the Pandemic

4 Ways Brands Are Pivoting During the Pandemic

4 Ways Brands Are Pivoting During the Pandemic 924 543 Julianna Rice

Sometimes, when we think of a brand pivoting, we envision a 180-degree change – like a new brand identity, or a complete revamp of the company’s products or services. However, that’s not necessarily the case. Yes, the company could evolve into an entirely new direction, but the direction and range depends on the need.

When a brand pivots, it’s usually a very calculated decision. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned in 2020, it’s that the world is changing quickly. Few were prepared for the pandemic, and our current timeline hasn’t allowed for us to conduct in-depth research prior to making changes. Instead, companies are forced to be more decisive than ever. 

Whether your business is considering a new product, a new structure, or even a new brand identity during these tumultuous times, don’t wait too long to take action. Instead, look to these 4 examples of successful brand pivots during the pandemic:

Image Credit | Under Armour

1. The Brand Pivots to New Products

Winston Churchill once said, “An optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty,” and the pandemic has reinforced that observation for many entrepreneurs and businesses. When the COVID-19 virus first appeared, very few knew that it would affect the world in the way that it has. Once the extent of the virus and its effect on our everyday lives was exposed, companies started scrambling to fill the needs that quickly became apparent.

Due to the limited availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), nonprofits and for-profits alike started making and selling cloth face masks. One company, Under Armour, even went so far as to create a face mask specifically for athletes, the UA SPORTSMASK. The first of its kind, it’s designed to be breathable, to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets, and to be eco-friendly. 

Under Armour needed to expedite the product design, development, production, marketing and distribution process in order to release this product – but it paid off. All of their masks sold out within an hour. 

Under Armour is just one of many companies that found a huge gap in the market, and saw an opportunity. Theirs is a perfect example of how businesses are dumping the traditional, lengthy new product release method in favor of decisive action in the midst of this pandemic.

Image Credit | COTY

2. The Brand Pivots Its Services Temporarily 

While some companies are in a position to design and release permanent products, others have opted for a more short-term pivot. For example, many major beauty manufacturers (and even some alcohol distilleries!) have made the temporary switch to producing much-needed PPE and alcohol-based sanitizers for workers. 

In the U.S., many states were left overwhelmed by the amount of coronavirus cases and the lack of equipment for essential personnel, especially in the medical industry. Coty, an international beauty manufacturer, pivoted to manufacturing hand sanitizer instead of makeup to aid badly-affected areas. 

With their factories already dormant due to various local and state ordinances, and plenty of product on hand, making the switch was an easy choice. It allowed Coty to aid the community, and bring their workers back to the facility. And they’re not the only good samaritans – many clothing production companies are providing resources to frontline workers, as well. Even Prada made the decision to temporarily produce overalls and masks for Italian medical personnel. 

The list of companies that stepped up and used their resources to aid affected communities is a long one. This temporary but meaningful pivot helped many brands earn respect from consumers around the globe, and they will undoubtedly see more business over time as a result. 

Image Credit | Kendra Scott

3. The Brand Pivots to Focus on Charity

Companies typically intend to profit, which is why charitable efforts are usually noted. During the coronavirus crisis, not every business has had the ability to introduce a new, much-needed product, or provide free resources for the community. However, we’ve seen many brands pivot to focus on charity.

For instance, Zoom – a popular live video chat company – announced at the beginning of the pandemic that nonprofit organizations could use their services for free. Companies like Freshly, Kendra Scott, and MAC Cosmetics are making large donations to multiple charities, and others are even donating a portion of their proceeds to charities, as well.

Now that their brand positioning includes leadership and charity during times of crisis, they’ve increased their credibility and appeal to international audiences. While there’s no doubt that many of these companies have good intentions, there’s no denying that they are benefitting as well. 

4. The Brand Pivots to Promote Company Culture

The pandemic has had devastating effects on the economy. Everyone knows of someone that was furloughed or let go from their company because of the coronavirus. Horror stories of companies letting masses of people go via short conference calls have permeated social media. These stories have prompted a reawakening for businesses around the world: it’s time to include an employee-centric focus in their brand positioning.

Many brands are pivoting to highlight their support and appreciation for their employees. When it comes to how companies have handled challenges presented by the pandemic, inclusivity and employee safety are dominating the conversation.

There’s been no shortage of companies blasted for insensitive mass firings or furloughs. There’s also been no shortage of companies calling attention to their employee benefits programs, and emphasizing the importance of corporate values. As brands pivot to include a staff-focused company culture, consumers everywhere are taking note.

In Conclusion

During the COVID-19 crisis, consumers, employees, and companies are facing trials and uncertainty. Many brands are moving to position themselves as leaders in times of crisis. In doing so, they’re updating their products, services and company culture. 

Each brand is working with their own set of resources, responsibilities and limitations. It takes innovative thinking and decisive action to see opportunities for growth during difficult times. 

These four examples of ways that brands are pivoting during the pandemic help to emphasize the value of leadership and a strong brand positioning – especially in times of crisis. 

Is your brand ready to pivot in a new direction? Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.


About the author

Julianna Rice

Before she became content manager at Kairos (and finally put that English degree to good use!) Julianna had a successful career in risk management and direct sales. When she's not writing helpful content for small business owners, you can find her at a book club. She also likes cats, coffee, and carbs – in that order.

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