There is an old Chinese proverb that goes a little something like this:
‘When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.’
I know, I know, I sound very wise (and more than a little pretentious). However, the point is apt to the current situation. At the moment in the UK we are at around the 6-month mark of the whole Coronavirus / COVID -19 / lockdown / quarantine thing. It is very much a crunch point, and it is becoming apparent who has been able to weather the storm and who has sunk in the maelstrom.
Some people decided to hunker down and see what the world was like when the storm passed, and that worked for some people and not for others. Some decided to make lemonade out of the lemons they where given and adapt to the new world. That seemed to work better for a lot of people, especially those who were in the food and service industries.
I wanted to highlight some of the better examples of adapting to the new world that I have come across, and hopefully this will help and inspire others to take action and be more malleable when faced with seemingly insurmountable change.
Delivering The Goods
One business sector that is booming at the moment is deliveries. Companies like Deliveroo and Uber Eats came along at just the right time to take advantage of the increase in demand to eat at home.
In my local area of York, both these services launched about 18 months ago and frankly after the initial novelty of it, I quickly forgot about them as there were very few local restaurants signed up that would deliver outside of the city centre. However, since March there has been an influx of food retailers tossing their hat into the ring and making deliveries. A lot of them are the big boys like MacDonalds and KFC, but many indie restaurants have also started to make deliveries through these platforms.
Some have even gone as far as to hire their own delivery drivers and create their own apps to avoid having to rely on external companies. One such local hero is Dough Eyed Pizza, who have been around for a few years, catering events and cooking out of pubs. But over Lockdown they found a home at a Cafe/Bar and started doing deliveries and collections through their own app. They have done so well that they have now moved into their own place in the very centre of town, serving up a tasty, fresh pizza to locals and tourists alike.
And it is not just takeaways, greengrocers, butchers, bakers, brewers and homeware shops have all jumped on the bandwagon and started to make home deliveries in their local areas.
Food For The People
An offshoot of delivering food has been taking food to the people. The last few years have seen a rise in the street food scene in the UK, and as such there are a number of food establishments that only exist in the back of a van or in a converted horsebox.
I have heard tell of these types of businesses picking locations for a Friday and Saturday night, such as a village green or a local pub car park and marketing to locals to come and pick up their take away fresh from the oven. A mobile takeaway, if that makes sense.
This isn’t necessarily a new idea as many of these types of food vendors did similar things to this before lockdown, but it has become more important to both them and the communities they serve over the last few months.
A great sushi caterer out of Weatherby called Pan Sushi has been doing just this and came to my attention when they set up shop a couple of times in my local, The Crooked Tap in Acomb. They took preorders and allowed customers to come to a pick up their dinner from the pub when it was out of operation over lockdown.
Talking of The Crooked Tap (which I do often, as it is one of my favourite places) they did not sit about twiddling their thumbs over lockdown. They adapted and grew their off licence offering by expanding into a bottle shop for the duration of lockdown. You could go and get a selection of canned and bottled beer, as well and take your own container and fill up on draft and keg pour brews to take home, something I did religiously every Friday over lockdown.
They also started a virtual tasting club, where you could buy the weeks specially picked selection and then log in on a Thursday night to sip your way through them with tasting direction from one of the pub’s staff. Not quite the traditional pub atmosphere, but better than drinking on your own!
Keep On Moving
Moving away from food and drink for a moment, many businesses found themselves without premises in which to operate over lockdown. Not being able to host customers is a big disadvantage if you teach lessons or classes.
A lot of places got around this by moving online. My mum attends The Yoga Revolution, who had a studio on the outskirts of York but had to move online to start teaching pretty quickly. They managed to come up with new pricing and membership pretty quickly get people doing their Yoga over Zoom from their living rooms.
I hear tell now that they are going to stick with this method moving forward, giving up the permanent home of the studio and doing the majority of classes online and hiring spaces when they want to face to face workshops.
Free & Easy
Many of the bigger online companies saw the lockdown as an opportunity to foster some brand loyalty and started to give away stuff for free. 2 or 3 months free membership, bonus upgrades, early access to content. Most of this type of marketing was based about keeping the kids occupied, so some places had drawing or craft packs made up to give away or started putting out videos to entertain and educate kids.
For example, Audible, who are part of Amazon, gave access to a library of kid-focused audiobooks for free during the lockdown.
This is not just for the big boys though, these sort of strategies can easily be adapted to fit the smaller business. Taster session, free samples, free delivery are all things that will get peoples attention and garner some appreciation from customers.
Almost every shop seems to now sell facemasks and hand gel. At first, it seemed like a bit of a cynical move on the retailers part, but as they have come more part of everyday life, it just seems normal now.
Quite quickly, there were a lot of variations on the standard mask. Everyone from big corporations (Adidas, LNER, M&S), to sellers on Esty and Redbubble started to offer face coverings to the wider population and now there is an eye-watering variety to choose from.
There are a lot of companies out there that are offering face mask printing now, so if you are a design lead company, or even just want to offer people the chance to wear a mask with your logo on it, there are places that will print them for you,
Being adaptable is one of the best ways to make sure that your business can ride out storms like the current one. Time and time again, big businesses who have shown they are not will in t to change and quickly become irrelevant and old fashioned, ultimately left by the wayside and overtaken by a smaller, more agile competitor. Blockbuster Video is a great (not for them) example, of a company that waited too long to adapt and faded away. Marks and Spence look like they may follow a similar path, not changing with current trends or responding to what the customer actually wanted and now having to cut jobs left right and centre.
So the lesson to learn is roll with the punches and try and adapt to new situations instead of rigidly sticking to what you think you should be.
I’m Alex Dyett
I am a freelance Graphic Designer and Photographer, and Flickering Light Studio is my company. I live in York, UK, with my wife and daughter.
Hopefully, this blog post has given you some inspiration to go out and tell your businesses story with great design and eye-catching images. Take a look at the other blog posts to get some more ideas, and if there is anything that you feel I could help you with, please feel free to contact me, and I will be happy to work on a project with you.