December 18, 2020
Hindsight is 2020
This most bizarre year is now squarely in the rearview mirror. And although I wouldn’t want to place any bets on what the future holds – especially economically – there are certainly some fundamental changes that took place this year that will likely forever change the way we approach our brand programs:
- Zoom backgrounds are now officially part of the brand collateral suite
Who would have thought in 2019 that Zoom would become so ubiquitous that it would become a verb? What started as a bit of a joke amongst ourselves, Zoom backgrounds are now routinely requested by clients looking to provide their teams with a suite of brand-aligned Zoom backgrounds (or Teams or Skype). It not only helps create a unifying brand message – but it also helps alleviate the pressure currently put on those employees navigating a makeshift home office.
- Your brand standards guide needs an update
We started talking about the idea that the brand standard guide and employee manual should finally merge in 2019, but it began to resonate in 2020 when we all started to work from home. The brand standard guide has been limited to designers for far too long, and the employee manual has long gone unread. By integrating the two, our clients can keep everyone aligned on critical brand processes and communication protocols. We’re calling it Brand Optimization – and our BrandOps guides are becoming a hit with clients.
- Is your brand language inclusive?
COVID-19 may have caused the world to lockdown, but it was a series of racial injustices against people of colour that made the world sit up and take notice. Across industries, companies realized that diversity needed to be a priority – both from a recruitment perspective and daily operations. We started working on inclusivity language guides that help our clients shape and reinforce brand culture, define internal policies, and set standards for communications both internally and externally.
- Some of these cloud-based creative tools aren’t that bad
Full disclosure that I have turned my nose at many of these cloud-based creative programs in the past. We always had this fear of clients “going rogue” and ruining a design program’s integrity. But I have to say, Squarespace and Canva can all be handy resources for clients to create their own graphics, content, and websites. Instead of fighting these platforms, we’re creating templates and training tools that help our clients use these in a way that’s both easy and effective for them. Hopefully, if they can save money on these daily communication pieces, presumably, they’ll have more budget reserved to work with us on more strategic, high-impact campaigns.
- It’s time to rethink how we price creativity
For the last several years, our increasing collective brand-savviness has been putting the pressure on Brand Managers to deliver a seamless experience through all touch-points – that’s only amplified because of the pandemic.
We started an investigation 18 months ago, looking at the design industry and other sectors like airlines and fitness that offer clients savings when they buy packages upfront. Cost and process efficiencies occur when there is an upfront commitment resulting in those industries providing their customers with more for less. Bundling our time and selling it in packages has helped several of our clients build virtual design studios – and do away with a lot of the administrative headaches on both ends. It’s not just more cost-effective, but it’s more efficient, too.
As we head into the holiday break, it’s hard to imagine how much has changed in 2020. I suppose we’ll see what 2021 brings – particularly when it comes to brand strategy and workplace dynamics. Regardless, I’ll keep you posted on my observations. If you’d like to say hello, just send me a note and we’ll set it up.
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