COVID-19 has certainly taken its toll on us all, and the same goes for brands. What were our daily routines 7 months ago – coffee to go, lunch al desko, Friday drinks, dinner with friends – are but distant memories to us now, replaced with new rituals that reflect our new daily lives – mask on, grab sanitizer, stock up on antibac, work from home, stay at home. There have certainly been casualties of this stark and swift change in national habit, but the brands that have succeeded, are the brands that were willing to adapt.

Here’s our pick of the brands that pivoted; the brands that made the pandemic work for them:


John Lewis & Partners

It’s one thing to pivot your business to sell online, but John Lewis has taken things a step further and transformed what used to be in-person interactions – like personal stylist and home design appointments – and made them digital.

The nation’s favourite department store offers a wide array of in-store advice and support services but, with customers unable to visit stores during lockdown, the brand pivoted to make these services available via video call.

The appointments are free, and customers can talk to experts from a variety of departments including home design, personal styling or even setting up a nursery. After the appointment the customer is emailed further advice, mood boards and a personal shopping list – depending on the service used.

The British behemoth is also maximising engagement by moving into the spaces their customers inhabit, making the personal stylist appointments bookable via its Instagram page. Here, you can also find a plethora of free content from JL stylists who are sharing tips and answering questions.

A staple of the Great British highstreet, John Lewis & Partners has ensured that their service remains personal; a fine feat in times like these, when many brands are relying on less accessible solutions like chatbots and automated phone lines.


Secret Cinema

Secret Cinema is known for its lavish immersive cinema experiences where participants get to experience the worlds of their favourite films come to life.

Given the onset of social distancing measures and rules preventing mass gatherings, you would expect to see a business like this fade into insignificance. But, instead of letting the pandemic take its course, Secret Cinema has pivoted to bring the magic of immersive cinema straight into people’s homes via their new venture, Secret Sofa. Each week sees the service choose a different film, with participants signing up to the Secret Sofa newsletter to get in on the action.

As well as finding out that week’s film of choice (with info on which streaming platforms carry it), the newsletter provides the usual Secret Cinema suggestions of costumes and characters to make at-home viewers to feel part of that particular cinematic world. There are also playlists, food recommendations and even a different flavour of Haagen-Dazs which can be ordered each week via Amazon Prime.

It might not be quite as rip roaring as the live experience, but you have to hand it to Secret Cinema, they’ve made the best of a bad situation and allowed punters to continue enjoying some of the magic of their all-out events from the safety of their sofas.


Dyson

Led by darling of the British engineering world, James Dyson, we’ve all been made well aware over the past decade that Dyson make more than just vacuum cleaners. From hairdryers, to electric cars, they’ve really stuck their fingers into a lot of pies.

In a further step away from household appliances, when lockdown hit, Dyson flipped the switch and turned its production line to ventilators in line with government demand. The Wiltshire based manufacturer designed a new type of ventilator in response to the COVID-19 crisis and, with 10,000 on initial order from the government, the company had hundreds of engineers working round the clock to design the ventilators from scratch.

Unfortunately for Dyson, the £20m project was not destined for greatness and, at the end of April this year, the government told the engineering firm that its services were no longer required.

A story of financial success? No. But responding to a global crisis by pivoting your business and designing lifesaving ventilators in a mere two weeks, that’s a pretty bold move from a brand known for vacuum cleaners.


Jaguar Land Rover

The luxury car manufacturer swapped valves for visors when the pandemic took hold of the UK and is using its site in Warwickshire to create up to 1,300 visors a day. The manufacturer adapted kit usually used for making new car parts to respond to the government’s call for support, consulting NHS works on the design of the 3D-printed visors, which have been distributed free of charge to NHS trusts “up and down the country” by JLR volunteers.

The motoring giant has even made the CAD files for their 3D-printed face visor design available to all via a royalty free license, encouraging other businesses with 3D-printing facilities to join the global call for more PPE.


Goodwash

Luxury wash brand Goodwash has donated 10,000 wash packages to NHS and other key workers. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, for every product bought, Barry-based social enterprise the Goodwash Company has donated one of its Goodwash bags to keyworkers across England and Wales. The kits, containing shampoo bars, body washes and hand lotions, are specifically tailored to those working long shifts and having to work over night.

More than 300 volunteers have put in hours of free time to hand make the products in order to fulfil the target of 10,000 wash bags. That’s around £20,000 worth of goods! Luckily for Goodwash, their philanthropy has paid dividends and sales are up nearly 6,000%.

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