Covid-19 sets stage for businesses to rebrand

In the current times of Covid-19 crisis
In the current times of Covid-19 crisis, it may be hard for businesses to know where to begin or how to navigate the challenging times and adopt the best business model. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

In the current times of Covid-19 crisis, it may be hard for businesses to know where to begin or how to navigate the challenging times and adopt the best business model.

In just a brief time, people have moved into fortification mode, focused on themselves, their families, their employees, their customers, and their communities.

Social media reflects this, with pleas for citizens to follow government safety guidelines. People have crossed partisan lines to build bridges within their neighbourhoods and communities. Social distancing is keeping many people at home.

Clients have returned to broadcast and cable television and other premium media sources for credible information. They are also seeking more in the way of escapism and entertainment, downloading gaming apps, spending even more time on social media, and streaming more movies and scripted programming.

Meanwhile, the need for physical goods is placing pressure on new channels, with demand for e-commerce increasing to new levels.


Health and safety concerns are driving more customers toward electronic payment systems, such as M-Pesa to pay at check-out without touching a surface.

Some of these behaviour changes may be temporary but many may be more permanent.

As people move beyond the current mode of survival, the momentum behind digital-experience adoption is unlikely to reverse as people are forced by circumstances to try new things. With so much changing so fast during this difficult time, what actions can brands take to serve and grow their customer base, mitigate risk and take care of their people?

Today, Covid-19 remains the biggest challenge to both big and small industries and businesses across the globe.

The crisis has left industries and businesses in a position where a rebrand is necessary. Businesses must reorganise themselves during this time if they are to remain relevant. However, rebranding can be risky, customers may not like it and you may lose brand recognition you worked hard to build. However, a brand change also invites a public image reassessment and perception change.

It is important to note during this time of Covid-19 crisis it is not a “marketing opportunity” to capitalise on. However, brands must recognise that this is a new reality and requires thoughtful navigation to survive.

It is important to understand a brand is everything about business and as it mirrors the experience your clients expect to have with your business. A virtuous brand effectively communicates what your business does and how it does it while establishing trust and credibility. However, a brand must be flexible since even the most successful brands change over time, especially in times of crisis.

Consequently, rebranding is about changing the corporate image of an organisation. This could be through adopting a new purpose, name, symbol or design change. Rebranding intends to forge a new identity for an already established brand. There are two kinds of rebranding — proactive and reactive. Proactive rebranding is employed when a business identifies an opportunity to grow or to tap into a new market. Reactive rebranding is in response to a changing situation. In this case, the business is forced to rebrand to survive such as during the current Covid-19 crisis.

However, even as businesses think of rebranding during this time of unprecedented crisis, rebranding can be dicey, and clients may not like it and you may lose brand recognition.

It is, therefore, important that before embarking of this journey you listen to your clients’ feedback.

A brand change also invites a public image reassessment and perception change.

Coronavirus outbreak presents a chance for businesses to redefine their purpose. By examining how your businesses can be of use in the current climate, you may find new avenues of opportunity.

As people are asked to self-isolate and stay at home, there will be several behaviour changes that might impact their needs as well as how they interact with your business.

Therefore, a reactive or proactive rebrand can help in how your business finds solid ground in unfamiliar territory. Involving your clients by asking for their feedback you can ensure that your rebranding efforts are aligned with changes in your customer expectations and experiences, rather than used as a generic crisis response tool.

After all, a brand is first and foremost a reflection of the relationship between customers and the company.

However, this is not about copying what others are doing but understanding the exceptional role your brand plays in people’s lives, how that has changed with the current crisis, and how your brand can help or be useful during this crisis. It’s also about looking for opportunities to lead by example and do the right thing, where it makes sense for your business.

Looking at the airline sector, for example, with little or no human travel, most airlines across the globe have had to rethink of how to grow the cargo business by converting passenger aircraft into cargo aircraft.