Last March and April, the pandemic-fueled lockdown led to a search for new ways to interact with one another, making us avid consumers of content created both ourselves and by others, including brands. In fact, according to a study conducted in seven different markets by YouGov, 30% of adults admit to engaging with adverts on social media more often than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nonetheless, something happened to the content from brands in this situation, something that particularly caught our attention as experts on the topic. It is perfectly summarized in the video entitled “Every COVID-19 commercial is exactly the same.”
Many of the brands that appear in this piece have spent a lot of money on defining who they are, their values, their proposition, and identifying and revealing their target communities. Many even have identity manuals with specific guidelines on how to produce their content. But at the end of the day, their audience is unable to differentiate them from the rest.
How is this possible? If companies have worked hard on their brands and are different from one another, why are they publishing almost identical content? Why is there a gap between brand identity and customer experience?
While it is true that what happened during those months was so exceptional that we should be cautious in using it as an example, there are also clear grounds for necessary reflection. The thing is, as stated by Twilio in its recent “COVID-19 Digital Engagement Report” study, COVID-19 has been the digital accelerator of the decade.
According to that same study, which was conducted with more than 2,500 decision-makers around the world, COVID-19 accelerated company digital communication strategies by an average of six years. 92% say it is very likely that their organization will expand digital communication channels as the world reopens, 54% say COVID-19 steered their focus toward omnichannel communications, and 53% added new channels during the pandemic.
We are therefore facing a major challenge in company communications: Connecting with all stakeholders without sacrificing who we are, through all channels and formats, and consistently over time.
It is logical to accept that companies in the same sector or industry will talk about similar issues, but each one should do so in a unique way so it can be recognized by the industry and its audience.
Having a well-defined digital brand narrative is more pressing and important than ever before. At LLYC, we understand digital narrative to be “a narrative that emanates directly from the brand’s DNA and harnesses all its digital assets at all times through a content strategy aimed at connecting, attracting, and boosting loyalty among its stakeholders, all based on a differential value proposition.”
How can this be achieved?