Flipping the brand switch for 2021

This week, the Zync team talks about preparing your brand for next year. Considering the ups and downs we’ve had in 2020, everyone has their sights set on 2021. What do you need to be doing now in order to get ready? Do we really know what to expect? Are we just living a new normal? How have audiences changed?

These are some of the things we’ll discuss during this week’s #EverythingIsBrand.

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Brad Breininger 0:00
Hi everyone, and welcome to this week’s Everything is Brand. This week, we want to talk a little bit about preparing for 2021. To a lot of people 2020 has been a little bit of a problem year and everyone has their sights on 2021. So let’s talk about prepping for 2021.

So the reality in your brand planning and your marketing planning is that now is the time that everyone is really focusing on what they’re going to do next year when it comes to brand and preparing for whatever campaigns or plans you may have for your marketing. So what are the things that people need to be doing now in order to get ready for 2021? Marco, what do you think?

Marko Zonta 0:46
Well, I think that obviously 2020 is a bit of a challenging year. And the reality is that we don’t know what 2021 will bring. but we’re still in the midst of it. So I think that anybody who is planning for next year really has to come up with the two plans right now, I don’t think that there’s really much of a choice from that standpoint, you really need to kind of plan for 2021, kind of a continuation of what’s going on this year, or a more positive thing I guess, I would say is that things start to open up a little bit. And things start to normalize from all kinds of viewpoints, I guess, and really plan for that. So I think that you really need to have Plan A and plan B. And I think the other part that I would say is: you need to evaluate your audience. Is your audience still where was before. Is it changed in any way because of COVID. And I would actually say, not just because of COVID. But also because of technology. COVID I think pushed a lot of people and a lot of habits and a lot of things kind of online, and people started to get used to new routines. And and the question will be will that continue? Like even if things start to normalize? Will people continue to use those technologies? And will that affect your marketing strategy going forward? So I think that with all of that I think you kind of need to put it in your plan and your budget.

Brad Breininger 2:01
Is it even possible that people can go back to the way they were doing things before? I think both of those plans have to be adapted to what’s going on? I mean, I doubt that anything is going to go back to normal. Gabi, how can people prepare for all the stuff that’s already going on? How can we take that all into account?

Gabi Gomes 2:18
Yeah, so I think there were many businesses, many brands that when COVID hit probably said, pause, hold all marketing efforts, and waiting for this pandemic to end, I think how many months later, we definitely know that there is no kind of clear end date in sight. And that we are now in what is now a new normal, right? There is no going back, there’s only moving forward. And I think one of the things that the brands need to keep in mind for 2021 is to be nimble, and to be relevant to what is going on in the current state. I think that was the wake up call that every brand got in 2020 was to be relevant. Now in terms of things that are going to be sticking around where there you know, prior to in 2019, and 2020. But we’ll be sticking around will be even more prevalent are all those digital avenues, right? In terms of mediums, we’re talking about audio, we’re talking about videos, we’re talking about things like podcasts, all of those will, I think, become even more relevant in 2021. So if your brand is not using those or minimally using those then time to ramp that up for sure. The other thing is, if you’re a retail outlet, that uptake of curbside pickup, click and collect making sure your inventory is online. So to once again, relevancy, and helping your customer basically access the items that they need online before they go into the outlet, etc. So really, the shift was there before in terms of last year in previous years, being digital, but I think brands need to look with that lens even more as we get into 2021.

Brad Breininger 4:04
Wouldn’t you guys say that every brand is digital now. I mean, any brand who doesn’t realize that the digital realm is where they need to be is behind the eight ball, I think.

Marko Zonta 4:14
Absolutely. But there are surprisingly a lot of businesses that do a really bad job from a digital perspective in terms of their presence online, and user experience, all that kind of stuff. I’m not just saying about what the website looks like and how it functions, but the entire experience going through the website, or quite frankly, even making a phone call whatever it may be making that connection. And then what actually happens with that entire experience, whether it’s a service or a product, or food delivery, whatever it may be, really focusing on that. Still a lot of businesses need to improve in that space. And quite frankly, I think that what we’re dealing with right now is really highlighting some of those issues. So that’s where businesses need to focus and improve those areas of their marketing plans and how they actually do the outreach to their potential customers and clients.

Gabi Gomes 5:05
You mentioned a good point about the relationship. And that’s true. Often I think brands think about, okay, we’ll add more information on the website, we’ll do more in that digital space in terms of words, but they’re not really thinking about it in terms of the other outlets; in terms of the voice, which would be audio, etc, and videos, which would also be the visual side of it, they only think about it, sometimes narrow focused. And I think those platforms in terms of video and even just audio, again, give the brand a more fulsome picture of who you are as a brand, right. Just imagine when people interact with us, they see us, they hear us, well… sometimes they can smell us, but not right now. So you got to think about that in terms of a brand too. Can they hear you? can they get a sense of your personality? what would normally been face to face now has to come through another mediums?

Brad Breininger 5:57
I think that those are adaptable elements to the brand. But the topic of our podcast this week is flipping the switch for 2021. So the issue here is what can brands do that is going to go even farther, because getting people’s attention is probably going to be harder than ever. What’s happening is that every brand is now going online. Every brand is going digital, every brand is going to start producing videos and some maybe audio like you said Gaby, but what can brands do to stand out? What’s the new ways that they can really make an impact?

Gabi Gomes 6:29
Partnerships! Yeah, I think I saw some stats out of Google that Canadians are basically looking for a one stop shop. So I would think that developing partnerships with ancillary services, brands, etc. could probably be in a brand’s best interest moving forward.

Brad Breininger 6:50
Yeah, partnerships have always been important. But I think they’re more important now than ever, because getting access to new eyeballs is very important to most brands, if they want to make an impact. If we think about what is going to help brands stand out, what’s our prediction for 2021? What do we think a strong brand in 2021 is going to look like knowing that there’s probably going to continue to be shut downs, there’s going to continue to be cases happening, what is the brand need to do? what does a brand need to look like and feel like and sound like for 2021?

Christian Rosenthal 7:22
I guess a brand should be agile. To Gabi’s point, nimble, agile and to give you an example, take a look at what’s happening with big movie studios and production companies. They are all pushing all those big movies to 2021, to 2022. Without thinking about, probably what’s going to happen in 2021. Maybe the situation won’t change much. Maybe movie theaters won’t be open in 2021. So they can’t keep pushing away those releases. So they need to be agile, they need to maybe, I don’t know, blend old ways with new ways and even take a look at what for example Netflix is doing, or Amazon Prime or any of those online digital video companies are doing. Because otherwise there won’t be any new huge releases.

Gabi Gomes 8:18
So yeah, delaying is not the solution. No,

Brad Breininger 8:21
Yeah, I know that the producers of the Bond film, the latest James Bond film have gotten a lot of flack because, you know, they want to make as much money as they can. Obviously they invested a lot of money. And so they just keep pushing the film out and out and out. And a lot of people are like, I’m not going to even want to see it by the time they just, you know,

Gabi Gomes 8:40
Top Gun people, Top Gun. I’m waiting for that Top Gun. Not that I’m a Tom Cruise fan, but I’m a Top Gun fan. It’s not coming out. You know, why not? Why not?

Brad Breininger 8:50
Yeah, whereas other I just read an article yesterday that said that the latest Pixar video is going to go straight to Disney+, it’s not even going to be put in theaters, they’re not even considering theaters, it’s going to go straight to Disney plus. So I mean, the world when it comes to visual entertainment, like movies and films and things like that, and even TV shows the future is streaming. And for anyone who is still waiting for people to pack back into a theater and make billions of dollars, I think that they might be sorely missing the boat. And this is really an example of what we mean by flipping the switch. You can’t just sit around and wait for everything to go back to normal. You have to really think about what’s a way to operate in the normal that now exists because some things may go back but it’s not as if everything is just going to go back to the way it was and you know there are a lot of people who outside of this pandemic realize that you know I don’t need to go sit in a theater I don’t need to get in my car, drive to the theater try to find parking sit in a car pay a fortune for concession stand treats, and then you know fight for my seat. A lot of people are like I just want to turn on my TV, make popcorn on the stove and you know, pause when I have to go to the bathroom. The reality is, is that the consumer is changing. And if the brands don’t change, they’re missing the boat. So the consumers flipping the switch on what they want, brands have to flip the switch on what they’re going to do to meet that requirement and meet that need

Marko Zonta 10:18
To that point: change is constant, right. So I mean, right now, because of what’s going on a change was just kind of forced on us. And it’s happening extremely fast. But I was listening to radio yesterday, and they were talking about the ban on single use plastics. And of course, they were saying how this is just a bad time for restaurants to having to deal with that. And a restaurant owner called in to the radio station, and basically said, Look, this is not new, other countries are doing this. And we knew that this was coming. So this is on us. If physicists are not prepared for something like that, that’s really bad on them, because we knew that this was coming. And I think that that’s just one example of businesses sometimes just kind of doing their regular thing. And not innovating, not looking at new ways of trying to do something, whether it’s reaching your customers or building a better experience, whatever that may be. Right? So I mean, going back to the movie example, like all of a sudden driving, movie theaters are popular again. Right? So is there a way to actually do something with thatt right? So even though these are challenging times, it’s also creating new opportunities. Right? So it’s kind of looking at things in a different way.

Brad Breininger 11:30
Yeah. And, you know, the idea of flipping the switch is, is about flipping on your current way of thinking and your current ideas. It’s not about how do we come up with solutions that are interim, right, that are interim to what’s going on right now. It’s about coming up with solutions that the organizations and the brands that are going to be most successful are the ones who understand that normal has changed, and they are ready and prepared and finding new ways to exist. In a world that’s very different than what it was. It’s a little bit like, if you look through history, history is littered with the people who sat around and waited for the fancy schmancy stuff to go away so that everybody could get back to basics. But that’s not how it works. We’re not going back to any sort of basics, whether it’s politics, or entertainment, or you know, restaurants or the environment, or we’re not going back, there’s that old phrase, once you let the genie out of the bottle, you can’t put it back in. And I think that that’s the perfect example here. If brands are not being innovative. Now, in the midst of all of this, I think that there’s a chance that they might not exist when all this is over.

Gabi Gomes 12:41
So I was gonna say you went back and said, what a brands need to do for 2021, they need to listen, they need to listen to their clients, to their customers. Listen to their needs. And I think they also have to be front and center, I think they need to continue to communicate, you know, there’s one thing is over communication, that they need to stay top of mind with their customers and show them that they are listening and reacting appropriately to whatever is going on around them in order to remain relevant and fulfill their needs, however they can in their business.

Brad Breininger 13:17
One of the most important elements in this is preparation. And I think where organizations need to be putting their mindset and putting most of their thinking is around what that preparation is going to be. And it goes back to this idea that 2021 is on the horizon. 2020 is almost over, and we’ve been dealing with a lot of issues in 2020. So people are probably a little tired, a little gun shy, a little worried, there’s still a lot of stress that exists. And it’s hard to have that kind of future focus. If people really think about where we’re going and what’s happening right now. And then make that plan whether they make their plan to exist in a little bit of a new normal, where things are going to change a little bit or whether they make that plan that things aren’t going to change very much in 2021, and that they have to kind of still exist in this pandemic kind of world. It’s about making sure that that preparation is done. And it goes back to what you were saying Gabi: listening, understanding and preparing and making sure that all of the things that you would normally do, just take those out of the equation at this point, I’ve talked to some people who are doing some budgeting and some planning for 2021. And you know, some of their instructions have been okay, well, take a look at 2018 2019 and make your projections based on that. And I think that that’s really not going to work right now. I mean, we may get back to a point where those historical elements can be helpful, but I think we need to do a combination of things: we need to take a look at what kind of happened in 2020 and be prepared for the worst. And then we also need to be prepared for a little bit better of a situation and if our two plans are in those areas, then we can get The right brand mix the right marketing mix. And it goes back to probably the most important thing that you brought up Christian, which is this idea of agility. Organizations and brands need to be agile right now. Because if something changes, and you can take advantage of opportunities, then you have to be ready and prepared to go do that if things shut down even more, and we can’t do as much as we’d hoped, we have to be able to adapt to that as well and come up with new and fresh ideas. So listen, prepare and be agile. Those three things are probably the flip switchers for 2021. And the things that everybody has to be ready to do as we go forward in a situation where we’re not quite sure what’s going to happen. So that’s this week of Everything is Brand. Join us next week for a new topic and a new insight on everything brand.