Gone are the days of brands being able to rely on delivering goods and services alone. As companies around the world pivot their business models in order to survive, they’re also taking a look at how their brand values and vision translate in a new world order.
The global pandemic has revealed the interconnectedness of our world. Looking at your company’s business model and the market landscape from both an individual and community perspective can reveal ways to optimize operational decisions and communicate with customers in a relevant way. Research has revealed that companies who maintained strong brand communication with their customers during previous economic recessions saw an increase in sales and market share post-recession, with strong brands recovering nine times faster than the S&P 500 standard.
Whether you’re a small business or a large company, there are things you can do now to maintain your brand equity and create relevance for your business in even the darkest of times.
Know Who You Are
Communicate the values that guide your decisions to your employees and customers. By remaining steadfast in your values, you anchor your stakeholders to a clear vision and value system during uncertain times. Brands that communicate their purpose in a relevant way are seen as authentic and real. They are remembered long after the crisis has passed.
Case in point: Nike cheers home team players
Nike transitioned its ads from images of sports teams holding hands to a single woman working out in her hallway with the phrase, “Play inside.” It told its audience, “If you’ve ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now’s your chance.” Nike may have shifted its message, but it stayed true to its motivational tonality.
Know Your Audience
Everyone’s situation is different. Part of doing well as a business is being aware of and adjusting to your customers’ various needs, while understanding that everyone shares concerns about what the future will bring.
You can make your customers’ lives slightly easier with a discount or donation, passing along helpful information and access to services in a safe way, or simply saying something that brightens their day. Uplifting your audience in a realistic and grounded way helps build brand trust.
Case in point: Small business support
Explore new ways of doing things. Think outside the box. Radical creativity and inventive thinking will serve businesses well in a situation that is constantly evolving. Be open to reallocating funding or resources where they can do the most good for your company and people in the longer term.
The best ideas can come from anywhere, not just your executive team. Establish a way for all employees to provide input. Now is the time to keep your ear to the ground and your mind open.
Case in point: Virtual travel with Viator
TripAdvisor’s tour company, Viator, launched 100 virtual experiences with their #RoamFromHome campaign, ranging from virtual cooking classes on Indian cuisine to a video tour of Berlin. The majority of the paid-for experiences will go toward supporting small business operators around the world.
Don’t Wait — Take Action
Businesses must persevere with courage and ingenuity in order to survive, instead of waiting for the world to return to normal. Encourage all your employees to think and operate as an entrepreneur and welcome all new ideas. Explore taking strategic and mitigated risks. If you communicate something to your customers through advertising or communication channels, make sure to back up what you say. Actions speak louder than words.
Case in point: From consumer goods to essential equipment
Major companies have pivoted operations to support community needs. LVMH stopped production of its luxury perfume for brands like Christian Dior and Givenchy to create hand sanitizer to donate to hospitals in France. Ford has shifted to producing ventilators, and New Balance is making masks instead of shoes.
“In this moment, brands have an opportunity to show customers who they are and what they stand for.”
Look for ways you can help out during this time. Cultivate your relationships with your employees, your customers, industry colleagues and your community. This may mean updating your website or growing your social media channels to better serve your customers. It may mean hosting a webinar or livestreaming event to bring people together. If your community is in need and you are in a position to give, do so in a way that reflects your brand values.
Case in point: Relief for workers and customers
Both Aviation Gin and Miller Lite have dedicated themselves to raising and contributing donations to bartenders in the restaurant industry, while Netflix has committed $100 million to workers displaced by halted work on movies and TV series internationally. On the consumer front, State Farm and other insurance companies announced the savings they’ve earned will go directly back to their customers in the form of premium credits.
Strong brands will prevail
Ultimately, tumultuous times ask one thing of all of us — to change. We are being asked to transform how we live and view the world, to recognize what really matters and adjust. In this moment, brands have an opportunity to show customers who they are and what they stand for, and the ones that react with authenticity and care will be remembered for years to come.
Photo via Viator’s #roamfromhome campaign