A new word that has entered our lexicon over the last few years is “pivot”. The dictionary meaning of the term is to turn or twist, but these days it seems to carry a connotation of “finding and taking advantage of opportunities that previously didn’t exist”.
It has become a much bandied about term that some might say is now wearing a bit thin, but it does capture the zeitgeist (to use another hip term) of our time. Individuals, companies, societies and brands have all had to do quite a bit of pivoting in the last few years if they wanted to survive and be sustainable.
Several brands that have done this quite successfully have impressed me and, while their innovations may not be groundbreaking or award winning, they have directly affected my life in a beneficial way, so I want to give them some airtime.
The first is Checkers – never a real go-to brand for me and not really my supermarket of choice. It sat in the “I’ll go there if nothing else is available” brand space in my head. The retailer came up with Checkers Sixty60 as a direct response to consumers’ fear of going to supermarkets (and possibly being infected) during the worst of the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.
I’m personally pretty averse to online shopping, but the real impact of Checkers Sixty60 in our household was on the “never-seen-dead-in-a-supermarket” man of the house! Having had the app recommended by his son, he discovered the benefits of having mixers (as well as other essentials, like biltong) delivered to our doorstep within an hour.
He has now become the grocery shopper of the household and my only involvement is to decide whether the second options offered through the app are okay. Life-changing stuff! This was a good pivot for the store, not only because it spoke to consumers’ needs but also because of the job opportunities it seems to have provided within the strained retail space.
Testament to this is the number of delivery bikes on the road, and of Checkers staff doing customers’ shopping for them in-store. Home delivery is nothing new, but Checkers somehow got it right – I think mainly because it works and is convenient, but also because it has, intentionally or not, brought a whole new client base of non-shoppers into the fold. Suddenly, a rather jaded and somewhat “personalityless” brand has become responsive, caring, useful and likeable.
Discovery has also undergone a brand-perception shift in my head as it went from being a serious monthly grudge purchase to being a brand I am happy to support. Its move to become the proactive flag waver for the Covid-19 vaccination campaign was possibly initiated by self-interest, but ultimately resulted in the organisation being seen as a brand that goes the extra mile to get a job done.
Pivoting to offer the use of its empty offices to become vaccination sites and managing the process so efficiently has done a huge amount to change perceptions of the brand among its existing client base, as well as, I imagine, the broader public. Amid the uncertainty, mismanagement and confusion around vaccinations, Discovery stood out as a group you could trust and rely on to look out for your well-being. What better space could a medical aid administrator hope to own in its consumers’ mind?
Flow has also done its share of pivoting over the past few years. We were quick off the mark to move to remote working and, as communications specialists, recognised that the new work environment presented some unique challenges and opportunities.
Remote working meant all interaction was happening via screens and, like any other mode of communication, not everyone is equally skilled or adept in this challenging environment. Our strategic and training teams quickly came up with ways to help our clients manage their internal teams and external engagements to optimise the potential of online meetings and overcome the obstacles presented by not being able to communicate in person.
By trial and error, Flow worked out how to work entirely remotely while maintaining a sense of belonging and unity among the team – learnings we were happy to share with our clients, underlining our brand position of fostering long-term partnerships by being there for each other.
Another big shift has been our move into the online event-hosting space and we now confidently offer this as part of our range of integrated communications solutions. Flow has managed to sustain itself, and grow, by being responsive, agile and adaptable, and all of us who work here appreciate that!
A final thought
Adapting to new challenges as they present themselves has become a prevalent mindset over the last few years and this is the case for successful brands, too. To remain sustainable and relevant means shifting with the times while still staying true to the brand promise and understanding that you have with your customer.
Long-lasting and loyal relationships with brands must be built on brand belief, and those brands that have pivoted in a way that reaffirms that belief will be the ones people continue to support.