Brand Communication beyond Covid

The boundaries between consumers and brands have shifted.

The old marketing playbooks don’t necessarily fit in the changing Corona landscape.

Brand strategies for dealing with the Coronavirus and beyond are being written and adapted almost weekly.

This is the first time in our professional lives that we are faced with such a steep learning curve and a seismic shift from what we knew and how things were done.

This unknown is exciting; we are now in a unique position to do the right things and to keep doing them when this ends. The brands that take control of their destinies now will be the ones that ultimately survive and thrive.

Sometimes you just need to say nothing

On March 23rd the UK went into its first official lockdown. Seven days later only 24 of the UK’s biggest 100 FMCG brands had made any comment on the outbreak on their consumer-facing websites. Only 35 had referred to the crisis on social media.

Sometimes a brand shouldn’t communicate.

In these unusual circumstances, silence is better than communicating as if it is business as usual. Not every brand can have something to say at this time, and not every brand can partner with a relevant charity or donate to the NHS. And even those that can need to be careful in how they highlight their good deeds.

McDonald’s UK has donated £1 million to FareShare; their announcement on Twitter was sombre and simply called attention to the need of the charity.

The values of the brand were evident in their actions, and when people see that a brand shares their values, they become loyal to that brand.

Saying nothing and doing nothing are not the same things. Doing nothing is an easy trap to fall into, burying your head in the sand waiting could mean your brand loses out at this crucial time.

Be brave and remember your values

It is essential to be brave.

But before you can be brave, you have to remember the core of what makes your brand successful; your audience.

Before you can do anything, you have to understand the role of your brand in the lives of your audience.

Coronavirus is shaping a new identity for many consumers. But there has been a more profound shift in the ethical compass and moral values that underpin how brands need to interact with their audience.

Arla is one of the standout brands through Coronavirus.

As the public went into a panic around the availability of daily staples, Arla faced a 60% increase in enquiries about the availability of their dairy products.

Publishing clear, transparent information and explaining the supply chain and how Arla was going to ensure the availability of dairy products to the country helped to calm and ease the frustrations of customers. You might remember in April, the shelves were empty of a lot of staples such as eggs and toilet roll, but milk managed to escape the panic.

Arla took their relationship with their customers further remaining brave and true to their brand. Through their communication around supply chains, they were also able to reaffirm their values and commitment toward creating net-zero carbon operations. A clear and ethical approach to their brand.

What are the best doing?

There are several similarities between the brands that are thriving—winning the hearts and minds of their audience through Coronavirus.

These brands are:
– Clear and confident with their offering
– Taking the time to understand the changes to their audience
– Communicating clearly, with empathy and consistency
– Sure on where they want to position themselves in the hearts and minds of their audience

These are some of the fundamental elements that underpin a successful brand strategy.

As we have entered our second lockdown, it is clear that we will not simply return to normal. With the prospect of a Covid-19 vaccine soon to be with us, restrictions may gradually be lifted; we may also have to endure further periods of full lockdown. During this period your audience will continue to change, and it is essential to remember that.

Invest in your brand strategy, review it and shape it to prepare for a staged recovery. Knowing where your brand sits and where it needs to go is vital, now, more than ever.

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