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Brand Messaging During COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to an unprecedented level of global uncertainty for businesses small and large. In times of crisis, brands who can understand what the world needs from them and adapt to fill those needs will likely face fewer challenges than those who push blindly forward. Our research partners, Gartner, found that 65% of organizations surveyed expected a decrease of over 5% to their marketing budgets. If those expectations hold true, brands will need to be more intentional and effective than ever with their marketing and communications. Here are our tips on how to use your brand for good, retain your customers, and best weather the storm of this global pandemic.

Recognize that this is not ‘Business As Usual.’ The brands who can empathize with consumers, make their concerns heard, and work to assuage those concerns will have a leg up over those who turn a blind eye. Compare Virgin Airlines’ request for employees to take unpaid leave to Ford’s latest ad spot highlighting the brand’s commitment to lending a hand, and the public response to each. It’s clear that consumers want to see companies doing right by their employees and the general public.

Find a Way to Help. Ford’s ad and commitment to help struggling Americans is an on-brand way for the domestic car manufacturer to lend a hand during this crisis. Boulder-based startup, LEVER, is using the 3D printer they usually rely on for product manufacturing to help print face shield brackets for healthcare workers. Think about your brand’s values, how much help you have the capacity to give, and then don’t hesitate to give it to those in need. Remember that your employees, partners, and customers are all human and deserve empathy. During times of crisis, brands can serve as community role models and remind us that there’s more to humanity than commercialism. 

Support, Don’t Capitalize. Sometimes the best way for your brand to help during a crisis is to take a step back and give your customers some breathing room. Even if COVID-19 has presented an interesting way to frame your service, like the data visualization from fitness tracker, WHOOP, below, you may consider dropping the calls-to-action for products as Americans start to prioritize needs based on loss of income.

WHOOP's email to customers.

Hitting pause on your email marketing campaigns or your paid social ads may sting, but if your communication isn’t crucial or relevant during this period of high stress, it may have a negative impact on the way your customers view your brand.

Take extra care to listen to your customers, vet all communication channels to ensure that your messaging is on-brand and relevant, and work to find your brand’s place in this new landscape. It’s undoubtedly a stressful time for everyone as COVID-19 continues to threaten the daily lives of billions, but understanding the role that your brand can play amidst the concern is vital to retaining success and growth.

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Reed Fischer

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