How can SMEs face the challenge of a second lockdown?
Just when the lockdown period seemed to be drawing to a close, cases of Coronavirus took a sharp upwards turn and local lockdowns were enforced. Already, almost ten million people in the UK have been confined to their homes once again. Nationally, too, restrictions have tightened and fears of a second lockdown period are circulating as Health Secretary Matt Hancock refuses to rule out the possibility of another strict set of restrictions being brought in.
For small firms in particular - many of whom took a massive hit when Coronavirus brought challenges to trading - the threat of another lockdown brings on a sense of dread.
After the most turbulent catastrophe to upset the business world since 2008, and which has perhaps exceeded the impact of the financial crash more than ten years ago, SMEs must draw on any resource available to ensure they make it through this second wave. As it stands, research from Simply Business shows a fifth of small firms do not think they will withstand another lockdown.
Enter The Future Strategy Club, a lean and transparent agency, dedicated to helping firms of all sizes weather the COVID storm. They have gathered the top strategic thinkers and businesses brains to compile a new Survival Guide, filled with tips and advice from the best in business to help firms navigate through the uncertainty.
The second member to contribute to this Survival Guide is The FSC Advisor, Bernie Morrison. Bernie's background includes the position of Strategy Director at Fitch - a global brand consultancy firm. As firms look to plan for a second wave, and some local lockdowns have even started to impact small businesses, Bernie has valuable advice on how taking hold of branding to push a genuine sense of compassion may be one way - for SMEs in particular - to help them stand out.
In this section of her interview, Bernie discusses why being genuine in branding is more important for SMEs than ever before:
"How you treat the people in the business is important to this idea. There is so much uncertainty in the world at the moment and the only way businesses can survive is if everyone is working toward the same goal. I also think one of the most important things for leaders will be a moment to reflect and have an in-depth look at their business to figure out if the current way they operate is fit for purpose.
"Telling your brand story in a relatable way is vital for both small and big business - but only if it’s true. The biggest problem that a lot of brands are going to face moving forward is transparency. Consumers now are more forensic than ever and far more interested in whether or not brands are as transparent as they say they are - and customers are not afraid to call a brand out if they are not.
"Gone are the days where people are sitting back passively accepting what advertising says to be true. It needs to really be true. It has to be meaningful because, if it's not, then why is anybody going to pay attention? After the pandemic, I think as consumers we’re all looking for more meaning in the world.
"Finally, people are actually going to want to develop brand purposes that they can act upon in the world. And I think those will become more realistic and encourage more engagement with local communities. Put people at the heart of everything you do. If you’re launching a new product, figure out if it starts with a human need. That should be at the centre of all innovation."