There are numerous positive takeaways from the way Australia reopened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers following a two-year closure due to COVID-19. Australia was a brand hit when it welcomed travelers back with koala toys and the country’s signature Tim Tams chocolate cookies. This comes after the country imposed some of the world’s strictest COVID rules in an effort to minimize the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Travelers arriving at Sydney’s airport were greeted by anxious, excited and tearful friends and family, waving the koala toys and offering cookies and jars of Vegemite spread. At the Melbourne airport, an emotional British tourist hugged her adult son when he greeted her. “Seven hundred and twenty-four (days) apart and he’s my only son, and I’m alone, so this means the world to me,” she told reporters.

According to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, more than a million people had visas to enter Australia with 56 international flights that were due to arrive in the country within the first day of the border reopening. The vaccination status of all travelers will be checked and confirmed prior to their arrival in Australia.

On Monday, Australia reported nearly 18,000 new COVID-19 infections and 34 deaths. As of Monday, Australia’s death toll since the beginning of the pandemic was nearly 5,000. COVID followed by the border closing resulted in the country’s once vibrant tourism market to take a hard hit. However, Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan, who was among the greeters for a flight from Los Angeles, is expecting a strong rebound in Australia’s tourism market as a result of the travel restrictions being lifted.

Using Australia as a great example, below are a few branding tips to follow when emerging from a challenging situation:

  • Acknowledge the challenges (former or ongoing)
  • Define clear goals and objectives
  • Know to your target customer
  • Establish an emotional connection
  • If appropriate, notify media when plans are set
  • Utilize data and research to authenticate story
  • Tell your authentic story
  • Designate credible and responsive spokespeople

Not all business or personal brands emerge from a challenge with little to no damage. The key is to establish a likable and authentic brand long before the crisis. If that is done, there is a higher likelihood that toy pets and sweet treats will guide your brand to a smooth landing.

Denise Kaigler is the founder and principal of MDK Brand Management, a firm specializing in brand strategy, business consultancy and career coaching.  Prior to launching her business in 2015, Denise held senior, executive and C-suite-level roles at several global brands. Denise is the author of Forty Dollars and a Brand: How to Overcome Challenges, Defy the Odds and Live Your Awesomeness, available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She is also the creator and executive producer of Brand Rewind ™, a multi-media platform designed to entertain, explore and empower. To subscribe to the Brand Rewind ™ newsletter, click here