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Thrive: 2021’s Business Imperative

Books and movies have shaped our imagination of a global apocalyptic event throughout the decades. But none of them, in my opinion, have accurately captured the complete story – the mind-boggling story of health, economic and societal upheaval scripted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, what is common between the reel- and real-life is the eventual triumph of hope and resilience – the indomitable human spirit, made stronger by agility, adaptability and innovation.

For businesses, ‘survive, stabilise, thrive’ has emerged as the way forward. Most brands spent 2020 hunkered down as the pandemic took its course – last year, it was all about surviving. Even as the pandemic continues to affect lives globally, the incredible breakthroughs in vaccine development signal that the coming year will be about focusing on ways to thrive. As the world recovers, organisations must follow suit to flourish in 2021.

Achieving this vision of growth will require brands to adapt accordingly and maintain a future-forward outlook. Here are three drivers communicators should consider to help brands evolve to thrive in 2021.


Increasing integration of data and creativity

Even before the pandemic, big data was a necessary input of successful communication and marketing efforts. The dependence on data will increase as economies inch their way to revival and consumer sentiment remains largely unfathomable.

With the power of research and data, we can glean more insight to identify and understand our target audiences’ behaviours, remove biases and create highly targeted messaging. In doing so, we create more effective business outcomes and move purpose records in the right direction.

As far as content goes, it is also a time to keep creative output high. As the world’s situation remains dynamic, the ability to ideate on the fly and react fast is vital. Content wise, a marriage of data and creativity will enable communicators to create more targeted and relevant work, moving more quickly while staying on the zeitgeist.


Growing importance of purpose in company culture

2020 saw companies effectively adapt to the disruption of the pandemic by transitioning to remote work. In 2021, communicators must begin to look inward instead. In a recent WE-Quartz report, only 20% of business leaders said they prioritised employee engagement and workplace culture. This is an opportunity for communicators to reflect on our organisations’ values and beliefs, discard outdated practices and rebuild a company culture with employee engagement, growth and welfare at its core. When we champion our employees’ health and well-being, we create a company culture that can propel it to greater heights.

At the same time, communicators also need to help brands find their purpose and lead with it. Last year, we saw more and more people are taking to the streets in support of issues they believe in, a phenomenon that can only intensify this year. It will be a key communications priority for brands to put purpose over profitability and forge stronger relationships with their customers.

Take, for instance, Avon Products, which along with Avon Foundation for Women, released USD $1Million in grants to 50 frontline services and charity organisations across 37 countries. The program was launched in tandem with Avon’s #IsolatedNotAlone campaign, responding to the surge in domestic violence cases in the wake of the lockdown.

In 2021, it is only when we address the needs of our employees and customers that we embody a stronger company culture, one that sets the foundation for a robust business purpose and boosts business performance.


Understanding the impacts of geopolitical shifts

High unemployment due to COVID-19 is bound to change the outlook of governments towards their economies. The narrative around creating jobs will gain more momentum and affect global manufacturing and supply chains. As geo-political realignment in the Pacific seems to be on track, blocs like the Quad dialogue between US, Japan, Australia and India will look to strengthen itself and seek assume greater role in global policy making. At the same time, it will be interesting two see how two major drivers of global order US and China deal with their differences.

With these power shifts occurring across the world, communicators must stay abreast of the evolving global narrative. It is essential that we thoroughly understand how geopolitical dynamics can affect our brands and adapt on the fly – delivering context-appropriate solutions to any potential headwinds.


In conclusion

Lenin had once said: ‘There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen’.

This pandemic cannot be classified merely as a health or economic crisis – instead, it is a human crisis. It has changed the very fabric of society, affecting everything right down to our personal relationships.

As communicators, this is our chance to bring the spotlight back on our shared humanity. With the help of technology, driven by creativity and purpose, we can help brands flourish post-pandemic and set the foundation for the world to bounce back and thrive again.

February 04, 2021

Nitin Mantri, Group CEO Avian WE