Lifting lockdown: five principles to help you prepare

Written by Rachel McCallion

As one of the first countries to return to a version of normal, New Zealand’s businesses are figuring out how to talk to their customers.

But it isn’t just a question of picking up from where they left off. This is a different world. It’s about asking ‘what are our audience’s needs now?’ and ‘how can we serve them?’


1. What’s your purpose?

Whatever the point of your brand was before lockdown, things have changed. What do people want from your brand now? What comforts can you bring to people who’ve gone without?

Knowing the answers to these questions is absolutely central to building your content topic clusters and creating those clear messages for your audience.

Before lockdown, McDonald’s was an after-school treat, a location for a birthday party or a convenient place to grab a bite on the go. Post-lockdown, McDonalds is the ability to forgo cooking, to sack off doing the dishes again, to get out of the house for a while or just to satisfy a craving. Most of all, tucking into a post-lockdown Quarter Pounder with Cheese is a reminder that some things never change – it’s comfort food, at its most comforting.



2. Know your audience

As well as understanding your audience, you also need to know who they are. People’s needs have changed. Your main buyer personas might not even be able to buy from you at the moment – think tourism and hospitality. So you adapt.

For now, Pure New Zealand is showing that beautiful scenery will still be there when lockdown lifts. And they’ve shifted to sell New Zealanders the prospect of a holiday in their own country.



What do people want post-lockdown? An escape. And Pure New Zealand is in exactly the position to provide this to Kiwis when travel restrictions are over. A lesson in adjustment.

3. Show compassion

New Zealand’s local answer to eBay, TradeMe has done a great job of staying in the collective consciousness during lockdown, when trading came to a halt. Branded shoutouts to essential workers, a kindness store, and passing back savings to their customers were genius moves. When it comes to the emotional needs of your audience, compassion is key.


Now that lockdown has lifted, people can trade again as long as it’s contactless. TradeMe is also continuing to share positivity and good news. Just what the infection control doctor ordered.

4. Be clear

Okay - so it’s back to the golden arches for another example. McDonald’s in New Zealand had queues of cars stretching around the block when lockdown was lifted. Its messaging in the run-up to the change from level four to level three was clear: we’re back.



A consideration before their reopening was surely; ‘what has changed, what do our customers need from us now?’ The answer; crystal clear information about the revised menu, a new ordering process and how they’re keeping everyone safe.

5. Don't jump the gun

Returning too soon will confuse your message in the face of government advice. It makes your brand look greedy and inconsiderate. Not good at all.

Air New Zealand has got the balance just right. It’s a masterclass on how to stay relevant when your entire fleet is grounded.

Focusing on its brand, it’s mirroring the community spirit of a nation in lockdown and boosting morale. Because that’s what the audience needs.


Preparing to come out of lockdown isn’t about simply reinstating the same processes and services that you had before. The key is in considering how lockdown has changed your audience, their demands and how we can adapt to provide them with what they want now. 

Next steps in brand messaging

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