If launching a new brand or product in the wake of Covid-19 feels like a Sisyphean challenge, there’s good reason. Some estimates put the global economic cost of coronavirus at around £7tn. The cost is so high that it’s almost too abstract to imagine. But as the economic makeup of the UK and beyond adjusts and shifts and shuffles, there’s an opportunity for new startups to find their place in the market. Likewise it’s the perfect time for established businesses to reassess their operational efficiency and revise product lines. Here are some practical tips for launching a new brand or product in a post-Covid world.

Build your brand on honesty

Customers are sceptical. Rightly so. The 2013 horse meat scandal was a grisly – perhaps even gristly – metaphor for the lack of respect many businesses hold for their consumers. But pelf can no longer trump principles. Customers are justifiably sceptical of businesses and disinclined to simply believe the ads they see on television. The days of smoke-and-mirrors advertising are gone. Total transparency, honesty and clarity of cause, particularly in the beauty and fashion industries are more important than ever before.

Go back to the drawing board

Few businesses anticipated or were prepared for the utter disruption caused by coronavirus. For commercial operations, it’s a cruel reminder of the importance of being ready for anything. The commercial recovery from coronavirus will be tentative. There are still lots of uncertainties. So double check your manufacturing processes. Make sure contingency is built in to your business/launch plan. Find ways to operate at a slower pace. Half your growth projections – or at least have contingency for that.

Find your attitude

Before you even think about launching a product or unveiling your new marketing campaign, you need to know exactly who you are and what you stand for. It’s all about clarity of cause. What aggravates you about your market? What do you love about your market? What problem are you solving for your customers and why should they care? You should have clear answers to these questions. A reason for being is how you build a meaningful mission statement. And when you sound like you mean it, customers will come along for the ride.

Prioritise customer relationships

There’s so much obsession with new business. New customers. New leads and prospects. But what if there was more focus on building loyal relationships with a smaller community of customers? Instead of the unrelenting – and frankly exhausting – chasing of new business. Make customer retention a key part of your model. And think about how you can reward customer loyalty. People tend to stick around if they have a good enough reason. A more personal approach to your customers will help you stand out in a consumer landscape that remains dispassionate and transactional.

Market sensitively

Sure, you can have different campaigns for different audiences. Yes, you need a bespoke message that fits each campaign. But you need to be mindful of the fact that any part of your marketing collateral could be seen by anyone. Even with targeted ads on social. For instance, someone could easily screenshot a targeted ad and send it to a friend who doesn’t fit the sociodemographics of your primary target audience. Be mindful. Communicate with tact and sensitivity. Always.

Choose marketing platforms wisely

There are so many different platforms on which to market these days. Take the time to think about what’s best for your brand. The influencer market is buoyant and cost-effective. And there are some great content producers out there who are looking for brand partnerships. Another low-cost way to promote your brand or product is to collaborate with like-minded brands from other sectors. For instance, if you are launching a vegan beauty product, reaching out to a vegan food manufacturer could win you exposure to consumers who are already engaged with your cause. Think giveaways, guest blog posts and social media takeovers.

Bring your customers along for the ride

Speaking of which, if you believe in your cause, bring your customers along for the ride. Explain how they can help. Suggest adjustments they can make to their life or things they can do. For example, Ren – a clean skincare brand – help to organise beach cleans and are clear on how their consumers can – and should – recycle the packaging that their products arrive in. We need only look at the Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion movements to see that we are in the era of mobilisation.

Invest in customer service

There are some incredibly smart automations out there. Online chatbots. Email discounts triggered by abandoned shopping carts. A lot of marketing can be automated. But don’t forget to invest in the human side of your business. Living in lockdown reminded us of the importance of community and human interaction. Tech can be a great facilitator of human interaction, as we have seen. But ultimately people want a human face. And now there’s a huge captive audience for it. Video calls have become the norm. So think about how your brand can capitalise, whether it’s consultations over Zoom, assisted shopping experiences or something else.

Be confident, stay humble

Be aware of the equal relationship between brand and consumer. Don’t mimic the assumed superiority of the old guard. Consumers recognise that the people behind startups are just people. So have respect for your audience rather than peacocking and posturing. You have to earn the right to have an ego problem.

Remember that you belong to a community

For a lot of people lockdown restored faith in community. Endorse it. Show how you are giving back to your local community or your cause. (Again, Ren are a good example.) Show your human side. You can reveal a lot about your brand through social responsibility.

Display an environmental position

Covid-19 was caused by unchecked human interference with animal environments. Environmental sustainability has never been higher on the agenda. Have an environmental policy and sew it into the fabric of your business.

Take people behind the curtain

Don’t be afraid to show people how your product is made. Take them into the kitchen. Show them backstage. Give them a tour of your manufacturing facilities. Trust between consumers and businesses has been eroded. The brands who can help to repair the faith will prosper.

We’re experts. Let us help you

It’s a challenging time to launch a brand. But brand strategy is our specialism. Combined we have experience that spans multiple decades as well as international boundaries. Give us a call and let’s have an informal chat about your ideas. We can help you to make it a success.