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How to future-proof brands in times of crisis – and beyond

Reset – Restart – Reinvent

A crisis brings many questions. But where are the answers?

A crisis makes us pause. But there will come a time after social distancing. After quarantine and self-isolation.

No matter how easily we get used to video conferencing, at some point we will return to "normal". The question everyone has to ask is whether this is a reboot - or a reset without backup.

Spoiler alert: We do not know all the answers.

Instead, we want to help companies prepare their brands for a time after this (or the next) crisis, regardless of how customers or society might change.

What has changed due to COVID-19?

Media consumption shifts to mobile and streaming


In-Home and Media Consumption Significantly Increases.

Source: GlobalWebIndex 2020 /// Base: Internet Users Aged 16-64.

People are growing increasingly worried about the global economy


Economic Concerns

Source: GlobalWebIndex 2020 /// Base: Internet Users Aged 16-64.

Time for a crash course in

customer centricity

For the majority of the population of the western world, an immediate threat to their lives and those closest to them is a completely new experience. They are in a state of shock and struggle daily with fear and insecurity. In order to stay sane, they are looking for information and distraction at the same time. This might seem a bit paradoxical, but it’s the way humans cope. But brands cannot afford such inconsistency.


More than ever, people seem to have very specific expectations of brands: Either they provide useful information to help them cope with the situation, or they help them to escape the madness for a while. There is not much in between. In short: every brand involuntarily undergoes a crash course in customer-centricity.

Going beyond the obvious

So, looking beyond the business mantra of the crisis "Go Digital or go Home", the curriculum should include understanding customers, striking the right note, showing tact in a time of hypersensitivity, reassessing the purpose and business model of a brand and adapting to everything as quickly as possible if necessary.

5 (timeless) actions for successful communication that go beyond the obvious

Elbkind Reply has analysed the subject and has created these essential tips:

Make sure your communication plan is always real-time ready


In turbulent times everything can change overnight. This applies just as much to a crisis as it does to pop cultural trends. Or in short: trigger events. In order to be able to react to these events, they must be recognized and evaluated at an early stage.


Overengineering and long approval processes are an obstacle to spontaneity. To be truly agile, employees must be enabled to act independently. If communication is handled externally, it should be ensured that the service providers enjoy complete trust.

Show empathy towards customers


"Everyone" can never be a primary communication target group. Data analysis helps to identify the real target groups. Social Buzz or Google search queries, for example, prove useful here. The results should always be compared with internal data and monitored.


By immersing oneself in the culture of the customers, one can better understand what pain points, opinions and popular topics interest a target group – the consideration should always go beyond pure socio-demographic data.


Communication must be tailored to a customer. This is not only about spreading a message. Rather, it should be ensured that it is prepared in a channel- and in a target group-specific manner. And if there is nothing to add, then simply nothing should be said.


„Alle“ kann niemals eine primäre Kommunikationszielgruppe sein. Die Datenanalyse hilft, die richtigen Zielgruppen zu identifizieren. Social Buzz oder Google-Suchanfragen etwa erweisen sich hier als nützlich. Die Ergebnisse sollten immer mit internen Daten verglichen und überwacht werden.


Indem man in die Kultur der Kunden eintaucht, kann man die Schmerzpunkte und die Meinungen einer Zielgruppe besser nachvollziehen und verstehen, welche populären Themen eine Zielgruppe interessieren – die Betrachtung sollte immer über reine soziodemographische Daten hinausgehen.


Die Kommunikation muss auf einen Kunden zugeschnitten sein. Dabei geht es nicht nur um die Verbreitung einer Botschaft. Vielmehr ist darauf zu achten, dass sie kanal- und zielgruppenspezifisch aufbereitet wird. Und wenn es nichts hinzuzufügen gibt, dann sollte einfach nichts kommuniziert werden.

Be ready and willing to adjust your business model


Major changes could mean that products and services are no longer relevant. Companies must be prepared to question themselves and their brand. This not only shows modesty and courage but could save the company.


To find out what works best for a target group, tests must be carried out and lessons must be learned from the results of these tests. Especially on social media, this is very easy to implement.

Be generous with what you have


In times of need, a company must concentrate on what it knows best. It is important to find out how core competencies can be used to help. No attempt should be made to suddenly do something that others can do much better.


Larger companies often have considerable reach on social media. This fact should be used to raise awareness of important matters or help smaller businesses. Smaller brands can explore what synergies there might be with larger brands. Of course, there must always be compatibility of brand strategy.

Don't compromise values


Even if the current situation feels more like a sprint, building a brand is still a marathon. Having values is essential. Now is the time to show that you stand by them as a company or brand and that neither the human side nor purpose are sacrificed.


It is very likely that it will be necessary to adapt to the circumstances of the crisis and deviate from regular communication. Nevertheless, a brand identity can be incorporated into any activities. It is important that customers know where they stand when they approach a company and that they recognise its identity.

Would you like to go deeper?

In addition to advice to establish a sustainable post-crisis communication strategy, we also prepared Thought Starters for getting a jump on implementation.

The COVID-19 crisis has already disrupted the customary way of doing marketing. Being in a field where planning far ahead is common sense, an entire industry is suddenly forced to deviate from what they know in the shortest amount of time possible. In such a situation, it is easy to identify which brands can act sustainably and which cannot. And yet one thing is certain, all measures that can be taken require commitment.

Discover how to put actions into practice!