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What lessons can we learn from brands and their survival tactics?
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Survival of the fittest and fastest

What lessons can we learn from brands and their survival tactics?
  • Some of the world’s greatest brands were born in times of crises and Dunzo and Wefast have emerged as great examples of businesses which will reshape a lot of how we do things.
  • Aniruddha Khandekar, Senior Vice President, Planning, Leo Burnett writes what conclusions we can draw from brand's survival strategy.

Old habits die hard they say. COVID-19 has been a swift and fatal blow to our habits and to this old saying. Within a span of 2 months, it feels like we have lived many lifetimes, only to realize that nothing really is in our control. Taking every day as it comes is making us realize that the present is the only thing we can decide on and is therefore, precious. The long-term is a lottery and I am certain, someone, somewhere is taking bets.

However, some of the world’s greatest brands were born in times of crises. This should also give us hope that we may not quite be done yet. As we focus on this silver lining, there is enough writing on the wall for us planners to act on. One such thing is what people expect from brands in these times. People have fallen back to being hunters-gatherers scrambling for essentials. Brands which step up and help them navigate this reality are the ones that will endure. Dunzo and Wefast are great examples of businesses which will reshape a lot of how we do things. People, once used to queueing up at counters, will certainly resist re-forming a line even when the world puts the virus out of its mind.

What do I draw out of this? Some simple conclusions -

  1. Short-termism – planners will no longer have the freedom of gazing in to the future to shape the present. The here and now is what we will have to work with. And this means, keeping our ears firmly and forever to the ground.
  2. Technology – if technology adoption needed a napalm, this is it. Traditional ways of thinking will die at the altar of new technologies and media. As planners we will have to think technology as much as we do ideas.
  3. Data – for people used to long consumer immersions, this is going to be a hard pill to swallow. Physical and fiscal limitations will prescribe efficiency. Main-stream planners will have to be-friend new ways of building hypotheses.
  4. Speed – all of us are living this reality already. WFH somehow, has managed to unlock efficiencies trapped in human interactions. Furthermore, short-termism in itself has imposed demands on time. Planners like to take their time strategizing but in this new reality, we will end up choking the system if we don’t change gears.
  5. Opportunism – the times to come will open up possibilities as brands become fluid about their guidelines and consumer realities change rapidly. Planners will have to be on-point to be able to help brands ride cultural ripples instead of big waves.
But all of this also brings me to ask - Will clarity suffer at the hands of speed? Will creativity become a backdrop in the face of technology and data?

I go back to my favorite author Yuval Novah Harari for guidance here. His last book Homo Deus is a Palantir on what we can expect of ourselves. In short, it’s the rare human ability to evolve, thrive and continue being the apex predator this planet has seen in its lifetime. The God-like human will adapt and thrive by making the necessary adjustments yet keeping her core intact. We planners are a resourceful and creative lot. So, I see the same hope, grit and creativity in us as Harari does in our species.

This pandemic will obviously go down in history for all the wrong reasons. But like all other human tragedies and crises, this will also come with opportunities to make history. It’s not going to be easy, but ask Abraham Lincoln, MLK Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi if it was worth it.

- Aniruddha Khandekar, Senior Vice President, Planning, Leo Burnett

COVID-19IndiaCases: 820kDeaths: 22.1kRecovered: 515k
COVID-19WorldCases: 12.10MDeaths: 551kRecovered: 6.87M
COVID-19USACases: 3.03MDeaths: 131kRecovered: 983k