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The Power of a Pivot

‘In the long history of human kind, those who have learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed” – Charles Darwin

I was queuing in my local Sainsbury’s on Saturday when the man in front of me turned around nervously as I pushed my trolley along.  Sheer panic washed all over me as I immediately thought I had, gulp, got too close.  Luckily Sainsbury’s had done something really helpful with signs all over the queue explaining that two metres was approximately two trolleys distance.  How clever I thought, Sainsbury’s has taken one of the most mundane parts of it brand and offer, the trolley and turned it into something incredibly useful and important – a unit of distance.

This ability to improvise or pivot – a term that I think owes its origins to start up culture where brands who started off selling one thing, realised that in fact their market was something very different – has been vital for brands to not only survive in this global crisis, but also prove themselves to be incredibly helpful to society in general.

In particular the food and hospitality industry has shown some incredible examples of how pivoting has provided a genuinely helpful service to the community.  From my local deli, who instead of making delicious food and drinks from ingredients from suppliers, is now selling those ingredients direct to customers, to Burger King whose latest campaign in the US is encouraging people to Stay Home of the Whopper, offering free delivery via its app and even telling customers in France how to make their own.  Deliveroo is now offering delivery of essential daily food items in certain parts of the UK and BrewDog, along with many others, is transforming its distilleries to make hand sanitisers.

One of our clients, the Celtic Manor Resort recently created a content initiative to provide entertainment and information to the nation.  The platform, Celtic at Home, was launched with a night of piano playing excellence with its resident pianist performing requests from the public for a night of traditional music and entertainment. 

For these pivots to ‘prevail’ as Darwin would have it, they all have a common framework which I think determines their success.

Owned: what assets, culture, technology, skills do you own that could transform the output of your business or brand

Earned: what right do you have as a brand/business to move into this new space, why is it helpful, why would anyone care

Shared: what are you doing that is genuinely helpful to the public as they navigate through these uncertain times, how will society benefit from what you are doing.  Is it less a transaction and more an interaction? Who can you collaborate with to help create something new and different?

How will your brand or business fit into these rapidly changing times?  Perhaps the ‘survival of the fittest’ was not about strength, power or intelligence but about the ability to find a fit or adapt to a new normal.

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