In this crisis, very few organisations will be unaffected. What is now important is how brands react and how they handle this uncertain and unprecedented situation.
How can organisations lean on their brand in order to get through this crisis? And which brands are already demonstrating this?
It is easy to get distracted, panic and make drastic non-strategic decisions in times of crisis. But for those who hone their brand strategy and focus on communicating the appropriately toned message at the right time will be better placed to see this through.
With the long term effects of the COVID-19 outbreak still to be realised, and the short term interruptions felt by the hour, it is vital that organisations manage their brands and messaging very carefully so as to ensure the continued health of their business.
“What leaders need during a crisis is not a predefined response plan but behaviours and mindsets that will prevent them from overreacting and help them to look ahead.”
In the recently released Edelman Trust Barometer for 2020, there was clear evidence that consumers are looking to organisations and their leaders to take action. This report was conducted before the current COVID-19 crisis took hold, with 78% of respondents acknowledging the role CEOs play in taking the lead and making decisions when it comes to environmental decisions.
Many brands are already demonstrating some amazing examples of brand values, purpose, customer care and empathy in action.
Some notable examples include:
- Zoom is supporting businesses through the pandemic by promoting tools that ease and facilitate home working, virtual meetings and video conferencing, it is also allowing students to use its premium functions for free.
- Google has also made its video conferencing service, Hangouts Meet, available for all G-suite customers until July 1, 2020. Hangouts Meet allows for up to 250 participants and live-streaming to up to 100,000 viewers per domain. You can also record and save meetings.
- Louis Vuitton has announced it will be converting three of its perfume manufacturing facilities in order to produce hand sanitiser, which will be given, at no charge, to French authorities and the largest hospital system in Europe.
- Coca-Cola has diverted some of its advertising spend towards a health message on the importance of social distancing by way of a creative execution on their billboard in Times Square.
- IGA, Coles and Woolworths have managed the distribution of scarce goods by introducing the rationing of toilet paper and some food items, as well as the initiative of an exclusive shopping hour for the elderly and disadvantaged.
- Time Out temporarily rebrands as Time In. Their editorial direction will pivot from dining out, to entertainment avenues closer to home such as ‘best Netflix new releases’, restaurants offering home delivery and other content to keep people feeling positive about being confined to their homes.
- Online social platform Nextdoor is helping people connect with their neighbours to assist with buying groceries for those in isolation, share toilet paper and walk people’s dogs when they can’t leave the house.
- Many businesses are taking the opportunity to promote their products and services that can be enjoyed from home. Some have found innovative ways in offering these services, such as virtual museum tours, 14-day online fitness programs and restaurants adjusting to include home delivery (if they did not before).
Brand as a defence strategy
In any crisis, brand can be the backbone of your defence strategy. It is the one thing your competitors cannot copy, and it is the one thing that will differentiate you in the eyes of consumers. We don’t know what the road ahead looks like in this unprecedented time, but we do know that a strong brand will recover quicker than a weak one, so maintaining your brand equity in the minds of customers, stakeholders and employees is critical.