Resistor vs Resilient Brands

 Our Glowing review of the best of brand creativity from 2020

First week of 2021. We’re scoffing the final Christmas leftovers, packing away the decorations and memories of last year and facing up to the idea of getting out of pyjamas and back to work (thank goodness Boris has gifted us the ability to keep pyjama bottoms on for the foreseeable). 

We’re also reflecting both personally and professionally, setting goals and visions for next year. At Glow we are absolutely not in the “sod off 2020” camp.  It was brutal in many ways.  But the best people, brands and business cultures thrive in wartimes and times of recession.  And in tough times, some incredible creativity always emerges.

Our reflections were that that brands seem to have fallen into two camps; those that have resisted, sat still, waiting for things to get back to normal.  And those that have shown resilience, pivoted and grown both their brand and their culture.  We want to take a moment to give a big celebratory shout out to some stella brands in the latter camp:

On the day lockdown hit, Gymshark changed its name to Homeshark.  They didn’t sit around worrying that it would upset their core business, they acted immediately and hit unicorn status. 

We also loved how Expedia invested when travel came to a screaming halt, pivoting their campaign and bringing joy and hope to the nation by showing a couple acting out adventures in their front room. This keeps the brand front of mind for whenever we are ready and able to venture out again.

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A list of 2020 star brands would not be complete without mentioning the agile innovators.  It normally takes brands around 18 months to get a new product launched. Pai had their gorgeous hand sanitiser available by 20th March. 

Instead of going straight on sale to customers and profiting from their incredibly speedy pipeline, Pai donated the initial batch to neighbouring schools, nurseries and charities such as Beauty Banks, making sure their latest launch benefits those that need it the most.  And they didn’t stop there with the social impact; Committing to make a difference within the community, for every sanitiser sold via the website, another will be donated to vulnerable people in the local area.

At the other end of the year was the annual marketing showdown.  Who would win our hearts for the best Christmas ad in such a momentous year?  For us it was Sainsbury’s three part, diverse retrospective using home movie style footage. The aim was to share a sense of hopefulness and that Christmas can be special no matter the circumstances.  The retailer tried to strike the right balance between bringing a smile to people’s faces while being sensitive to the fact that there was still a lot of uncertainty about how we might spend Christmas last year.  In our opinion, they hit the spot perfectly.  Especially when in reality it turned out that we all had to rely on the memories, the home movies, the photos of Christmas’ gone by… and the odd Zoom call.  Prophetic.

Our 2020 brand winner, however, is the one that has a CEO so proudly out with his f**k ups; Brewdogs’ James Watt who recently shared his top 10 failures of all time you can read it here.  Watts is creating and driving a business so comfortable with failure that it spurns a constant stream of innovation.  Their lockdown body of work has been prolific.  As have their constant efforts to use business for good, recently offering all of their retail outlets as vaccination centres.

When we eventually emerge from the fug that was Covid at some point in 2021, as marketing leaders, let’s workout how we keep that edge of resilience that spurned rapid creativity in 2020.