As a brand agency, we are always on the lookout for brands to advocate for. We love to see brands do great things, inspire people and in return gain the brand loyalty they deserve.
Each year, we sing the praises of the brands we’ve been impressed by during the year. When COVID-19 hit, we saw many brands pivot or create unique offers to suit the volatile and changing demands of business.
Here is a list compiled by our team, of 10 brands that have impressed us in 2020.
StageKings switched from making giant pop-up stages for large scale concerts and events to designing, manufacturing and selling stand-up desks and other ‘isolation’ office furniture. In recognition of the struggles that the music industry has faced during COVID-19, StageKings continues to donate a portion from every desk sale to Support Act, a not-for-profit which is providing emergency support, including a wellbeing hotline, to people in the entertainment industry.
ResMed produces innovative medical solutions to help keep people out of hospital. In response to the global pandemic, the organisation swiftly pivoted to ramp up the manufacturing of ventilators by more than 3.5 times during the first six months of the COVID-19 crisis. ResMed also accelerated the launch of new digital health solutions to help clinicians remotely diagnose, treat, and manage sleep apnea and asthma patients during the pandemic and beyond. Mid this year they also launched a new campaign with Brad Fittler on the importance of a good nights sleep. As part of this ‘Awaken your Best’ campaign you can take a free online sleep assessment.
The banking industry has been under intense scrutiny post the royal commission and ING have continued to hold a strong position in terms of being a trusted brand within the industry. During COVID-19, ING’s advertising featured their team doing their job from home, in an effort to showcase their commitment to their team as well as their customers. They also launched Real Talk, which is a series of films and articles that have been created to cut through the financial jargon, delivered by people who would resonate with their customers, and further support their brand positioning.
It’s hard to go past AfterPay, who have complete category dominance within the buy now pay later market. They have done an amazing job building distribution with retailers and have tightly targeted millennials very effectively as well as worked hard to put in place product features that encourage responsible spending and support for those in financial distress or for those who get their spending a little out of control. AfterPay’s shareholders have certainly been reaping the rewards in the brand’s success. The jury is out as to whether the current share price is sustainable, but in the meantime, it can’t be denied they thrived through COVID-19 via a targeted and potent focus on millennials.
Despite the naysayers, the NRL successfully navigated the pandemic and delivered an extraordinary 180 game season amid a shutdown of sport globally. The grand final crowd of 40,000 marked the biggest public gathering in Australia since mid-March when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. In terms of sports viewing and participation, it definitely had a positive impact on a sport that has faced a number of internal and external behavioural challenges.
Business Australia, the rebranded NSW Business Chamber was just days away from launching their new website when the pandemic hit. As a result, they quickly pivoted and turned their website into a COVID-19 news hub offering support and vital information to businesses facing the rolling crisis. With small businesses facing an economic nightmare like nothing they have ever faced, Business Australia knew they needed to ramp up their efforts in supporting businesses through the crisis. The dedicated coronavirus news hub has proven a lifeline to many businesses as has the freemium membership model. Read more about Business Australia COVID-19 pivot here.
The bushfires and COVID-19 restrictions have put pressure on regional cheese businesses who traditionally rely on tourism. Cheese Therapy, an online specialty-cheese retailer, came to the rescue. One small town of Milawa in regional Victoria was facing the heartbreaking decision to discard their glut of cheese which was ready for consumption. Cheese Therapy came to the rescue putting an SOS on social media asking its cheese-loving followers to buy a ‘Rescue box’ to help Milawa. They expected to sell 50 and ended up selling 2000 packs of cheese. They continued this approach throughout COVID-19 lockdowns, introducing a monthly ‘Therapy box’ which included regional artisan cheesemakers unable to sell their cheese in their normal channels. Cheeses that were meant to be consumed on Qantas First and Business Class flights were now being shared and enjoyed by consumers in lockdown.
Another regional superhero brand is ‘Buy from the Bush’. A movement that started during the droughts and bushfires has continued to grow and evolve throughout the COVID-19 lockdown giving regional towns a way to sell their wares to city folk via an easy online process. The BFTB team has recently launched a sister site Stay in the Bush and both have become beacons for what buying Australian means to fellow citizens, and what can be achieved by consciously choosing Australian goods, services and experiences.
Despite initial concerns of how COVID-19 would affect listening habits and subscription products, Spotify has managed to grow their subscriber base significantly. The brand has continued to be very active in the market during the year in terms of advertising and promotions. We enjoyed seeing them release their own version of market research – subscribers could view their own personal ‘Wrapped list’ which gives Spotify users a look back at their listening habits during the year, as well as providing an insight into its users’ listening trends as a whole.
Airbnb wasn’t unscathed by Covid-19’s brutal decimation of the travel industry, but the short-term holiday accommodation rental company bounced back quicker than its competitors in the hospitality industry. They introduced a much more localised focus, with their ‘go near’ initiative as well as introducing safety protocols and measures to adhere to COVID restrictions. In the height of lockdowns and zero travel, they introduced a new Online Experience feature, where their customers could enjoy a wide array of activities from the comfort of their home.
In what can only be described as an unprecedented year, it has been heartening to see so many brands pivot and persevere through such tough times. We look forward to 2021 and continuing to see brands evolve and grow.