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Five essential learnings from lockdowns that brands can apply today


As Jacinda Ardern said recently, "There is an indescribable anxiety which comes with the daily grind of managing a pandemic and I think we all feel it. But you do learn things – you undoubtedly learn things." 

In a nutshell

  1. We’ve all learned a lot over lockdown. Here we share five principles we've learned about brand and comms during the pandemic.
  2. Ultimately, it's about brands behaving in the same way that we’d expect people to: respectfully, kindly and authentically.
  3. These principles hold true during a crisis, but are also useful guardrails for brands entering into conversation.

And while marketers aren’t dealing with the responsibilities of navigating a country’s Covid-19 response, we can all relate to the Prime Minister’s sentiment.  

We have, undoubtedly, learnt things. During the first, second, and third lockdown in Auckland, I’ve kept a weather eye on Zavy’s Radar tool (previously called Covid 19 Conversation Monitor) to get the pulse of the nation. How are people feeling? Which brands are they responding well to? What brand activity earns positive sentiment and high engagement? What does not? 

From the answers to those questions, five essential learnings for brands emerged. And while they especially apply during times of crisis and change – the principles are evergreen. You'll also find some more detail in the infographic below. 

1. First, put people first.  

Self-centred messaging doesn't land well at the best of times, and right now you'll get no forgiveness for it. Show gratitude for customers and for staff and if people tell you their needs are not being met, respond quickly.  

2. Don't be boastful or pushy.  

Instead, help alleviate fear by clearly communicating how your organisation is participating in the collective effort to overcome the crisis.   

Save this infographic for reference.

3. Be true to your brand purpose, personality and role.  

But in a way that suits this new context. What job do people look to your brand to help them complete? What can you do to make it easier for them within lockdown restrictions?  

4. Be a team player, and play fair.  

Clearly communicate how your organisation is participating in the country's collective effort against COVID-19. Find ways to help people stick to Level 2 & 3 guidelines.   

5. Understand people's needs.   

Keep listening. Understand people's needs and be the first to provide relevant help and advice. Respond quickly if customers signal unmet needs.   

What it boils down to is brands behaving in the same way that we’d expect people to: respectfully, kindly and authentically.   

On that note, I’d like to recognise the epic efforts of our clients and the hardworking team here at TRA over the past year. Navigating a crisis is a lot easier with great collaborators. And in the spirit of listening to people’s needs – we’re always keen to understand your needs better. So if this article has left you with unanswered questions, let’s talk: . 

headshot of Carl Sarney, Head of Strategy at TRA, in black and white
Carl Sarney
Head of Strategy

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