Branding, a marketing buzzword that we use to evoke emotions from consumers. We use elements such as tone of voice, logos, and colours to connect with consumers in the hope we can encourage them to purchase from us. However, with an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus driving us into a global pandemic, we are now in a time of crisis and our actions need to shift.

Heading into the unknown is a scary place for many businesses who need to adapt and adjust their operations in order to survive during and after the global pandemic. Branding is a great place to start… and here’s why!

The role of a brand during a crisis

As mentioned before, the role of a brand is to evoke emotions from your target audience in order to encourage them to buy your product. Strong branding also makes you easier to identify in the market. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of the brand has shifted slightly.

The actions your business takes today will directly impact your success and reputation in the months and years ahead. Take a look at how you can shift your brand messaging to stay connected to your audience:

Give back

The COVID-19 crisis has forced us all to stay at home and, for those of us who can’t work from home, stop working. This means that many people have uncertainty surrounding their careers or have, unfortunately, lost their jobs completely. This has led consumers to be more careful and cautious with their spending and they don’t want to be pushed into purchasing products. Now, businesses need to change their strategy and shift their mindset – you need to offer value far beyond just what you are selling. Aggressive selling will no longer work and brands need to use this pandemic as an opportunity to give back to their loyal customers. This could be through providing educational content through digital platforms (like social media), offering free resources to your loyal customers or even by supporting local COVID-19 charities; whether that’s through donating much-needed supplies or even offering a cut of your profits as monetary support. Building up a good reputation by supporting the community means people are likely to remember it and trust you in the future vs the brands who have decided to stay quiet.

Embrace Digital

With the world largely online while they are isolating at home, this is your opportunity to connect with your customers in ways you haven’t been able to before. Social media provides a platform where you can start conversations with your customers, engage with those who have reached out to you, and raise awareness of what you can offer during everyone’s time at home. Your website could be a place where your audience can learn more about your brand and how you are giving back during the pandemic, or find information that may help them during the current climate. Being online and staying on top of what’s happening also helps you be more reactive in this ever-changing environment.

Now we know why branding plays an important role in a business, here are some of our top tips on how to improve and use your brand during these difficult times:

Verbal Identity

Tone of voice is an excellent tool to help give your brand a personality and help you stand out amongst your competition. Your brand’s tone may be humorous and casual or formal and educational. There is no reason to strip your brand of its values and identity, but, there are a few things to reconsider during a time of crisis.

It is vitally important that your brand’s messaging is hopeful, uplifting, and positive. Appearing insensitive to the global crisis may be deemed as insensitive and, in turn, could damage your brand in the long-run. For example, if you’re a brand who loves to jump on the latest Twitter trend with humour and clever puns to maximise reach and shareability, maybe now isn’t the right time for that kind of approach. You can still be light-hearted and humorous, but keep the gravity of the situation in mind to ensure you don’t offend with your content.

We also recommend keeping all forms of communications consistent across messaging platforms, such as social media and email newsletters.

Visual Identity

A large part of branding includes your visual identity; logo, imagery, typography, and the overall look and feel to your brand and website.

During a time of crisis, it may be worth looking at your mission, vision and values - do these align with the current crisis or could they be slightly amended without rebranding all together?

Creating visual assets that will help communicate more sensitive messaging may help consumers better understand how you are trying to help.

Content Strategy

Content strategy refers to the management of any tangible media that you create, whether that’s visual, written, or downloadable. Content comes in a number of forms, including social media strategy, blog writing, video content, or podcasts.

There is no doubt about it, you should be visible online more than you’ve ever been before. With so many consumers still inside, often bored, and not being able to connect with their friends and family in person, content is king! Ensure your content is relevant to the times and easily accessible.

Here are a few examples of businesses who have used their brand well during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Pret a Manger
Pret already have a strong focus on giving back to the community – whether that is providing food to homeless charities or ensuring they are environmentally friendly. In recent months, they have managed to connect with their audience at home AND give back to the community. Back when new social distancing measures were announced, they very quickly showed their gratitude to NHS health workers across the country by providing free hot drinks and a 50% discount across their food. On top of this, they provided their very loyal following with secret recipes of well-loved Pret sandwiches, soups and sweet treats on their social media channels, so that people could still enjoy a Pret a Manger lunch at home.

example of an ad from Pret a Manger

 

Royal Academy of Dance
The arts industry has been one of the worst affected industries since the beginning of the global pandemic. However, The Royal Academy of Dance was extremely reactive to respond to new social distancing measures when they created [email protected] back in March. They have been providing free ballet classes, children’s exercise classes, and dance parties for people all over the world to get involved in. This gave people an opportunity to keep active and connect with dancers from across the globe.

Guinness
When St Patrick’s Day celebrations fell through back in March, Guinness still managed to bring people together… albeit virtually. The world-famous Irish brewery instead released a tear-jerking ad that encouraged people to stay home and stay safe. This is a brilliant example of a brand keeping their personality but using their influence to communicate appropriately.

If you are looking for some branding support to help your organisation thrive during these times, do not hesitate to get in touch with us!

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