Cutting through the noise: why brands are struggling to be heard in 2020

20 July 2020


It’s literally everywhere.

Even during lockdown, when consumers the length and breadth of the country had to stay away from bus shelters, motorway billboards and coffee table magazines, the saturation of digital content was very real. With Zoom fatigue affecting workers who are spending all day, every day glued to their screens, it’s inevitable that brands will get drowned within the endless drone and chatter of Netflix, Prime, Spotify, NOW TV, YouTube, TikTok, Premier League advertising billboards, canned crowd noise, letterbox mailings… the list goes on.

Add to that the surge in free, accessible content, and the struggle is very real.

The Joe Wicks effect

No sooner had gyms shut, that Joe Wicks launched his daily TV exercise programme and the world became home fitness fanatics. The health and wellbeing industry has had a monumental battle to be cut through the noise and navigate through availability of free content, offering something of added value whilst generating revenue.


The same can be said for a number of service driven industries – adapting to an online marketplace ten years ago would have been seen as innovative; dynamic; creative; forward-thinking and industry defining.

In 2020, it’s seen as the norm. The done thing. The question is not “are you online?” It’s “where can I find you online?” Whilst July 2020 has seen the reopening of non-essential businesses and shops, the online marketplace is still thriving, with June’s growth being the highest annual result since March 2008.

But what does all this mean for UK-based SMEs?

It’s time to refine your messaging

OK, so we all know how to read and write.

Since the dawn of time, Mankind has communicated through shapes and symbols – visual communication has been as important and as prevalent to our development as a society as the spoken word. But let’s be honest – there are somewhere in the region of 5.9 million SMEs in the UK. That’s 5.9 million businesses communicating a message to their target demographic. And whilst these organisations are targeting different segments of the marketplace, there are only so many people to choose from. That means an awful lot of overlap.

You are not alone

Just because your fabulous new fitness businesses is targeting Mrs. Richards at no. 42, doesn’t mean that there aren’t thousands of other brands striving for some prime real estate, front and centre of her day-to-day life. They all want to be seen.

  • 7am – The alarm clock that wakes her up every morning.
  • 7:10am – The shampoo (to which she is brand loyal – sorry hygiene competitors) that she uses on her hair in the shower.
  • 7:40am – The cereal that she pours into her bowl.
  • 7:41am – The Coffee machine that she prepares her daily fix with.
  • 8:00am – The smartwatch that she glances at on her way back up the stairs.
  • 8:05am – The PC that she switches on with a sigh.
  • 11am – The food delivery that arrives during her morning break.
  • 1.10pm – The ready meal that she shoves into the microwave before…
  • 1.30pm – her virtual meeting, using a software carefully chosen and selected by her and her team.

I could go on, but there are 8 more hours of her average day, filled with a plethora of brands, and you get my point. Every single tangible and visual part of Mrs. Richards’ day has been researched, considered and purchased.

It’s no wonder that a multitude of brands have fallen by the wayside along the way, whilst others have not just survived, but thrived.

40% alcohol. 100% success

Make no mistake – it’s not all doom and gloom, and there is an enormous amount of opportunity for UK brands – small and large.

Absolut vodka won the coveted prize of social media hero from The Spirits Business for its interaction with customers on Twitter and its Instagram Live activity.

bottles of absolut vodka on shelf

Getting involved with major trends such as #DenimDay and giving guidance on DIY facemasks, the alcohol brand gained some prime online visibility and as such was able to cut through the noise at a time when home alcohol sales had risen by a third.

More than just a flash in the pan

New Wagada client and chef-made home delivery food suppliers, fitchef, saw a surge in branded search from April to June, increasing by over 400%.

With an active social media following, dynamic website content and a clearly refined message, fitchef have worked hard to be a serious market contender – and they’ve succeeded.

fitchef’s online presence has quickly grown, and with a strong product to match, the future is bright for owners Matt and Will.


A personal favourite of mine, Budweiser reignited their infamous Whassup campaign for a quarantine ad with a difference. Whilst other brands were working hard to think of something new, the noise was… well… noisy, and Budweiser relied on the strength of their past successes and re-imagined them for a new audience.

Couple that with the #togetheratadistance message on social media, and Budweiser managed something that other brands often fail to do – be original and nostalgic, all at the same time.

Make sure your brand cuts through the noise

Don’t be a brand that falls by the wayside. Stand out from your competitors and be seen and heard in 2020.

For more support and advice on how your brand can cut through the noise, get in touch with the Wagada team today and find out more about how we can support you.