Crowdless is an app that emerged out of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. It tells how crowded places are, such as supermarkets and restaurants. It was launched in late April and had over 60,000 users after two months of the launch, with main markets in the UK, Spain, Italy and Germany.
The success of Crowdless lies in two things: brand purpose and agility
First, they worked back from the brand purpose of ‘help people make informed decisions’. The founders initially created the app for users to avoid conflict zones, given their experiences working in Afghanistan. With the brand purpose as a Northern star, they feel, listen, hear and see how this purpose can be translated in the pandemic context.
Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapience, says, ‘Only Homo sapience can speak about things that don’t really exist. Fiction has enabled us not merely to imagine things, but to do so collectively.’ - How lucky and fascinating that we are able to imagine! We should utilise these special skills to imagine the world of people who interact with your services and create new, together.
Second, they are agile. They created a prototype after three days and introduced it to the market. Then, they iterated ideas by testing and improving. It is everyone’s hope not to continue the lockdown and get back to normal life soon. To seize the moment becomes more important than ever, meaning that time to market becomes a competitive advantage in the tech-driven world.
How can you create brand purpose and agility if you do not have it?
For brand purpose, lockdown may be a great opportunity to stop, step back and re-think why your organisation exists. Brand purpose is much bigger than operational levels; it can live with you for decades or sometimes centuries.
You can start by looking at challenges in the world and the uniqueness of your organisation that it has been accumulating. The overlap of the two will give you a starting point to explore what you stand for.
For agility, the brand purpose will help you to show compelling reasons why people would be better to be agile. People do not like to change, in general. Thus, ‘Why’ is powerful to re-programme mindsets. Brand purpose should be inspiring enough to reach people regardless of age, the colour of skin and religion.
In addition, it is crucial to create an internal structure in an organisation.
JetBlue, a low-cost airline included social media as a way to connect to customer services. With a technical capability to combine all communication channels from email, SMS text messages and even Facebook and Twitter, they were able to have one view for cases and aimed to support as close to real time - lost baggage, delay and cancelled flights - as possible on their journeys.
They see that agility could help brands to be closer to customers; hence, more authenticity and ownership. What made JetBlue able to demonstrate agility in action? The simpler organisational structure without oversight enabled each one of the staff on the ground to provide responsive services, autonomously and with empathy.
Brand purpose will serve for a long-term, and agility can’t be built overnight, however, Investments in both will create a foundation to be resilient and innovative enough to thrive through a crisis.