As an undercurrent of uncertainty runs beneath the surface of daily life around the world, companies continue to navigate unfamiliar terrain. In the face of such challenging times, it can be difficult to know how to communicate with clients and customers. Many companies wonder if they should communicate at all.
Part of the answer lies in the very thing that has been disrupted during this global pandemic – connection. Recent reports have shown that the majority of consumers appreciate relevant and timely information from brands during this time. Brands that “go dark” or stop communicating during 2020 could see as much as an 11% revenue decline in 2021 according to Nielsen. These brands can take up to three to five years to recover.
While how you connect with your audience may change, making that connection continues to be key to guarding your brand equity and value.
Strong brands understand their audiences. As purchasing behavior shifts, people are looking for more than products or services; they’re seeking solutions to their needs. Consumers are price conscious, and they want to understand up front the value and benefit of a product or service. It’s no longer enough to say how you are different from the competition, you need to communicate your relevance. Brands that reassure, are relevant and connect will find competitive ground during times of crisis.
People want to have a sense of security and the feeling that they are making the right decisions. More than ever, people want to align themselves with brands that are doing good in the community or share their values. Starbucks, for example, has done a great job of consistently embracing safety protocols for employees and customers. Importantly, the company has also clearly communicated these measures to their various audiences.
“Brands that reassure, are relevant and connect will find competitive ground during times of crisis.”
Retail has been turned on its head in our new normal. Stores are thinking about how they continue to adapt and evolve and meet customer needs in order to plan for the future. In keeping with their democratic approach to design and fashion, Target has announced a partnership with Walmart, and CVS called the Beyond the Bag Initiative, a plan to reinvent single-use plastic bags. The initiative invites all entrepreneurs and inventors to pitch their best ideas to replace plastic bags. This is a great way to connect with the public on an urgent issue, demonstrate their commitment to sustainable business, and highlight their optimism for a future that includes shopping in stores.
People crave connection. Whether it’s a video call with loved ones or content that inspires them, the power of the interactive dialogue between brand and audience has always been through the lens of human connection, tapping into a universal truth that moves us.
Children’s apparel brand, Carter’s, debuted a family-centric, “Stay at Home and Make Memories” campaign featuring their employees and children. The spot centers on children who are excited to have more time to play together and the importance of staying home so we can all be together in-person again someday. Aligned with the values of its audience, the campaign resonates in a way that is real and reveals a common truth.
Brands that stay true to their core identity and purpose while shifting their messaging to reflect the times are better able to connect with their audiences. For example, Nike’s play inside campaign expresses the idea of overcoming the odds, being courageous and staying strong mentally and physically, whether that’s through team sports or alone in your living room.
At a time when people are social distancing and not interacting with companies in traditional ways, it’s vital to stay relevant by showing you understand what people are experiencing and reassure them of your shared values. This connects you in a meaningful way, humanizing your brand and driving brand loyalty through uncertain times.