Right now, the most important thing is our health. Aside from the obvious, lots of things can have an impact on that, including our livelihoods. But what happens when say…a global pandemic brings the economy to a sudden halt and the livelihoods of you and your team are put under threat? Businesses are flipped on their heads, projects are put on pause, and we’re all trying to adjust to the ‘new-but-uncertain-normal’ (so, do we just live in pyjamas now, yeah?). In the midst of everything, brand is now more important than ever.
Why it’s important to protect your brand (especially now)
We’re not exactly sure when it will be, but there will come a time when this all ends. What you do now will impact what happens then.
This isn’t all about profit, it’s about recovery. Look at it this way—if brand sentiment increases, you’ll be front-of-mind when people start spending money again. That money will help your business to recover from this difficult time and protect the livelihoods of you and your team. That’s what matters.
Also, the more businesses that survive, the more likely the economy will survive, but right now, we don’t know where to start on that.
How can you safeguard your brand?
As Richard Branson puts it, ‘your brand is simply your reputation’. We should all be striving to be good businesses anyway, but now, more than ever, the world is watching and they will base their future spending decisions on how brands act during this crisis. What can you do to either sustain or improve the reputation of your brand?
1. Listen First
Don’t try to sell your customers something you think they need. Ask them first. Right now, people are experiencing a lot of challenges, and so, they’ll appreciate a business that sets out to solve them.
Social listening can come in really handy at this time too. Search for what people are saying about your brand, your competitors and your industry—this can help you to be more proactive.
Not quite sure how to get started? Check out our webinar on social listening!
2. Activate Your Purpose
If there was ever a time to live by your purpose, it’s now.
Your brand purpose is at the core of what your business believes in (beyond ‘making money’) and it should come across in all the little things that happen in your business every day. More on that here.
The situation that we’re currently in is an opportunity to prove that your purpose is more than just a page in a branded PDF document. Can you use your skill-set or business resources to do something that can actually help the world or even your local community?
For us, our purpose is to ‘inspire creativity in everyone‘, but it can be tough to be inspired when there’s a global crisis going on. So, we set up a community for our fellow creatives to share stories and get help. We also teamed up with Creative Entrepreneurs Club to build a jobs board and offer 1-to-1 support. Together, we want to keep the creative industry surviving and thriving, no matter what the world throws at us.
Patagonia also announced that they’d be closing all of their stores and their team members would still get their full wage. What’s more, they did this two weeks before things really started kicking off—showing that they genuinely care for their people.
3. Be Sensitive and Empathetic
Use this time to evaluate the content and tone of what you’re putting out there. Can you create content that’s part of the solution rather than just trying to sell to people? Sales and income are needed, yes, but its the hierarchy of how we do this that’s important.
Right place. Right time. Right message. That’s what you’re aiming for.
If you haven’t already, double-check running ads and scheduled content—if a message goes out there that feels off-kilter, it could do some brand damage. If you can, try to run your message past at least three people before pressing ‘send’.
For the first time in recent history, Coca-Cola stopped all advertising in the UK. A spokesperson said:
In light of the serious situation everyone is facing with regard to coronavirus, we don’t believe it would be appropriate, or consistent with the current challenges and uncertainty for our consumers, to continue with the planned marketing of our brands in Great Britain at this time. As we all adjust to these very different circumstances, we will focus our efforts on how we can make a difference to our consumers, customers and communities in the weeks and months ahead.
4. Be Transparent
This crisis has taught us the importance of clear communication. We’re all going through this, so we need to be open about the challenges our brands face. It’s not ‘business as usual’ right now and you don’t need to pretend like it is. If you’re open and honest about what’s going on with your brand, you’ll build trust with your customers, clients, and community. Plus, you’ll find that people genuinely want to help.
We saw a great example of clear, honest communication in a mailer from Glasgow-based brand, Bare Bones Chocolate.
Now more than ever, it is so important to support your favourite independents, both online and locally. Buying our chocolate over this period will keep us in business, whilst also supporting the chain of incredible British suppliers we work with – from the papermaker and printer we work with to the sugar, milk and salt suppliers.
PS: If like us, your already-high snacking levels have shot through the roof and you want to support a small local business, you can buy their chocolate here.
5. Adapt Your Strategy
On one hand, it’s risky to say anything in case you look like you’re trying to capitalise from a crisis, but on the other, it’s risky to play it safe, say nothing and become invisible. The only way to survive is to adapt. ‘Safe is risky’ as they say.
Things are changing daily, which means, the plans we had even a few weeks ago are out of date. For brands who are choosing to advertise, relevancy is key. Here are some brands that are tackling the issue really well.
MINI UK have made a subtle change to their Twitter header:
A copy-only inspiring message from Nike:
Volvo is going against all the advice we’d normally give by contradicting their purpose to send a clear message:
Right now, no one has all the answers. However, the one thing we know for sure is that we’re stronger as a team—we can do this!
If you need any advice or support during this time, we’re always here. You can join our Linkedin group, tune in to one of our free webinars, or chat with us on social.