The COVID-19 crisis has sent economic shockwaves around the world and seen businesses in PNG and elsewhere cut costs. This may seem prudent but it may not be the best course of action for your brand.
The short-term impulse may be to hunker down, cut back or halt completely, but this global pause may be an opportunity to concentrate on long-term planning that will ultimately strengthen your brand.
The way a brand deals with the COVID-19 crisis will influence the way consumers perceive it in the future.
During the COVID-19 crisis, brands that are able to deliver messages that communicate empathy, have real value, do right by the community and inform – instead of ignoring or downplaying the situation – will see their value grow.
There are many examples of companies using this uncertain period to continue to offer stakeholders real value and build their brand as a result. For example, people will appreciate and remember that during this time, global brewing company AB InBev repurposed their alcohol-making capabilities to produce much-needed hand-sanitiser. Tech giant Adobe has made their Creative Cloud platform free for schools and other educational institutions during the closures. Banks, such as Bank South Pacific in PNG, have slashed overdraft fees and cut interest rates to help its customers.
Getting the messaging right
In the UK fast food company Pret a Manger took a stand to help medical workers by offering them free hot drinks and 50 per cent off other products. Its CEO, Clive Schlee, said in a message: ‘The Pret family and the whole world are in uncharted territory, and it is important that we show solidarity and stand by each other in this difficult time.’
Some brands, instead of offering discounted or free products or services, have taken steps to address customers’ and employees’ concerns. For example, many hotels and hospitality services have announced the measures they’ve taken to ensure hygienic cleaning standards, including temperature checks for staff.
The mistake here is following the ‘business as usual’ approach that some companies have taken, which may lead people to believe that they are out of touch with reality or simply don’t care.
Getting the message out there
With the entire world locked down looking for content this pandemic can be the perfect time to launch an advertising campaign, as long as your message is thoughtful and appropriate. Alternatively, ad campaigns can be repurposed during this period with a little bit of creative thinking.
While many companies have stopped advertising during this economic downturn, continuing to run ads will increase the brand’s share of voice (meaning, you will stand out from the crowd). For example, if you have a pizza delivery business that has been promoted as having ‘the most delicious pizzas in town’, perhaps a new campaign could push that your pizzas are the most delicious in town but also that you are keeping staff employed during the COVID-19 crisis and offer contactless deliveries.
Forward-thinking brands have recognised that this is a time to give, help and solve problems – rather than focus solely on commercial growth. Consumers don’t want brands to go silent. It is worth noting, however, that brands should also be careful to show that they are not taking these steps just to ‘look good’; consumers recognise opportunism and inauthenticity.
Four things brands should be doing during the COVID-19 crisis
– Deliver real value, provide a solution
– Present with empathy, act responsibly
– Do right by the community, including their employees
– Inform, instead of staying silent or ignoring the crises