30 June 2020, 08:34 AM
  • Being creative and agile could be the key to coming out of COVID-19 stronger than ever
How can innovation help your business thrive?

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been hearing numerous stories of innovation, from drive-thru PYOs to cocktail deliveries. As businesses begin re-opening, that same proactive response could be your way out of the crisis. Change is happening all around us, and now is the ideal time to be flexible and creative, and to potentially rework your business model and strategy for the future.

Think fresh
“It’s great to hear retailers have responded to COVID-19 by being proactive and innovative,” Kelly Mackenzie, creative director and founder of branding agency White Bear Studio, tells us. “The world has changed significantly, so our response to how we do business needs to as well. However, being proactive and innovative are not just attitudes for a pandemic. Constantly challenging yourself to think fresh, try new things and explore opportunities are goals you should be setting daily as an entrepreneur; it’s how you’re going to get ahead of your competitors.

“I have also loved reading about food businesses taking this opportunity to engage their communities more. Applying creativity and proactivity and sharpening those skills during a pandemic will toughen up all businesses to come out of the crisis stronger and fitter.”

Shaping your strategy
Moving forward, thinking about your operations and planning your brand strategy for the future are steps to be taking now, Kelly says.

“Firstly, reassess your target audience, speak to them, find out how they are feeling. Secondly, test new ways of engaging with them, particularly now that digital use has risen and people are indoors more – perhaps now you’re launching a ‘direct to consumer’
platform, you’re trying out some Instagram live recipe classes, or you’re tailoring your products to serve your customers better in the new world we live in. Thirdly, reflect on your current brand strategy: is what you are doing now congruent with your brand story and
vision for your business?”

Stay engaged
We talk a lot about being proactive in the industry in general. At times like this, an important part of that is engaging customers.

“Millenials and Gen Z, in particular, appreciate brands who converse with and engage them,” Kelly says. “They want to be part of a tribe and a community. Be creative: a well executed brand and packaging solution will help you stand out and get ahead. Creativity and design is an investment that pays – for every £1 spent on design, businesses can expect £2.25 in return. Be commercial: for brands that are trying to get stocked in more retailers, understanding where the retailer is coming from is crucial.”

Edward Berry of The Flying Fork adds that customer needs will have changed, so it’s important to factor this in: “Don’t just open your doors and expect business to happen,” he says. “The customer may have changed and therefore you may need to find different ways of communicating with them; you can’t just be dependent on old-fashioned ways, but then that’s been evolving over the years. Messages may change: they may say different things and you also need to think about how customers communicate differently.”