Kellogg’s and Post were two American cereal companies leading the market in the US in the late 1920s. The idea of ready-to-eat cereal was still relatively underrated even though it had been around for years and was mainly the breakfast de jour of the early hipsters.
When the Great Depression hit in the US and consumer demand was in flux, Post cut back on expenses. And one of the first things to go was advertising.
Kellogg’s, however, doubled its ad budget. The constant advertising of a healthy breakfast alternative to sustain your family through the tough times paid off. Americans abandoned hot cooked breakfasts for cold, affordable (and debatably tasty) cereal by the thousands.
By the early 1930s, even as the economy sunk, Kellogg’s profits had risen almost 30 per cent and it is now one of the world’s leading convenience food manufacturers. As for Post …?
This true story is folklore in the marketing industry around the world, demonstrating why maintaining brand presence during the tough times could help your business come through the other side.
To put this story into the context of our current COVID-19 crisis, it is so important that now, just as much as always, employers need to maintain communication with employees and external markets.
And there are two key things employers need to focus on: what is happening now and what will be happening afterwards.
One of the most important things you can do right now is be visible when it comes to how you are managing the current COVID-19 crisis.
What are you doing? How are you doing it? How are you focusing on your employees and doing the best you can right now?
Because if you don’t talk about it, they will. Just look at Virgin sending off their teams and passenger with dance. The employee experience has been top-of-mind for the last 12 months and we cannot forget that now.
The team at Sydney Airport proving that you can still have fun while practicing social distancing. Our mates at Rex Airlines and Jetstar couldn’t help but join in too – how’s that for some #VirginSpirit? 💃🕺
📷 George Ivanoff pic.twitter.com/fI08e5E2Xe
— Virgin Australia (@VirginAustralia) March 28, 2020
Just some of the questions to be answered:
- How are you supporting remote working in terms of well-being?
- How are you supporting stood down employees?
- Why have you had to make difficult decisions?
- What are you doing to remain sustainable?
- What does the foreseeable future look like for your organisation?
Being human, vulnerable and honest right now is OK. It’s more than OK.
Community spirit and solidarity are at their highest in times of crisis. And if you behave with compassion and empathy people will remember you for that. These are tough times for everyone, and one way or another, we are all only doing our best.
I have been focusing on the future of work within the context of employer brands now for around five years, and outside of individual business transformation strategies, this current crisis has triggered the biggest shift forwards we have ever seen.
And while we will return to a version of normality, expectations of what normal is have already fundamentally changed forever. And employers are going to have to accept this.
There has been a collective cerebral view of what we want the future of work to look like, yet I know first-hand from a FlexCareers perspective, how tough it has been to convince leaders at large to prioritise action.
Regardless of application, the consensus is that work-life harmony needs to improve and flexible working needs to be implemented to make sure organisations and individuals become more sustainable.
And the salient point here? Employees are going to expect and want this when we all return to a semblance of normality.
Questions that are going to be asked by employees:
- Why do we have go back to working in an office?
- Do you trust me?
- Do your values align with mine?
- Do I believe in you?
- How are you going to look after me?
Employers need to start thinking about these questions and implementing practices to support the future of work now. Simply being human will go a long way.
How you communicate now about your brand is going to be remembered a year from now. Kellogg’s or Post? Your choice.
About Elle Green, Head of Brand and Marketing at FlexCareers
Elle has over 15 years’ experience in the marketing and advertising industry, creating both corporate and employer brands. That experience has led to a personal passion to help organisations build sustainable, humanised brands, with their employees at the heart. Layer that with six years working with LinkedIn’s global clients on their professional talent strategies and you have a digitally savvy, content-driven, authentic story-teller, who wants to help people find careers that help them be the best version of their professional selves.
Whether you’re a parent, a hobbyist, an entrepreneur, a student or a travel enthusiast, if you’re measured on agreed outcomes, rather than how much time your bum spends on an office chair, then you should be able to contribute to business success. On that note, I’m off to whiteboard how to to build a LEGO car with my favourite smallest human.