Reilly Newman

Dec 23, 2020

3 min read


2020 has been an unthinkable year for so many businesses and industries.

It’s time to face the music (and add salt to the wound) and acknowledge that a simple turn of the calendar page doesn’t take any of the pain away from where we now find ourselves.

With many businesses on life support, this reality comes from the shift we as a nation and world have undergone. This pandemic has been a catalyst for many markets. By this, I mean it has compressed time that would’ve normally taken 3–5 years for industry advancement to just 3–5 months. Talk about pivot.

Why is this? It truly shows the power of consumer behavior’s influence over markets. Human behavior is very irrational, so large swings like this are very possible, especially when you add in a dash of sector shutdowns, government orders, and a world-wide pandemic.

What’s amazing about 2020 is that we saw consumer behavior forced to change — which changed industry landscapes drastically (and quickly). For some, it was a blessing. For others, it was an atomic bomb.

Most businesses who had been focusing on their brand prior to 2020, were able to pivot quicker and with more grace compared to those who have neglected their brand.

The reason is simple. To be a brand-focused business, you must be focused on the lifestyle and general behavior of your audience. If you’re just another typical business, you only care about selling your product/service and the performance of such. Not the actual perceived value and perception of the business and the planted emotional connection to the business. (Remember, it’s not what you do, but how you do it.)

A great example of this is USAA, a well-known company that provides financial and insurance services. During the course of this year’s pandemic, they recognized the financial impact COVID-19 had on its auto-insurance customers. 2020 dictated that there were less cars on the road, thereby lowering the chance of automobile accidents. They decided to pivot slightly and — on more than one occasion — they applied a small credit towards their customers’ monthly premiums. Rather than just continue to focus on receiving their normal premiums and processing insurance claims, USAA identified with their audience and responded to their customers’ behavior shift by extending goodwill through lowered premiums,. This response to their customer’s behavior shift actually strengthened their brand loyalty during the pandemic (vs. just focusing on their end profits).

Being a business that is inclined to care for the way you are perceived in the marketplace means you are brand-focused. This means you do care how your audience not only sees you, but how they see the world. The problems they face, their values, the way they are changing. This “edge” for your business, gives you the advantage of always refining (and pivoting) your service/product in tandem with the evolution of your audience over time (or in a “black swan” 2020 scenario, you are able to pivot in a very short period of time.)

Originally published at