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  • Writer's picturePat Browne

Must Follow Strategies for Brand survival in the new normal.

The stakes are high. Negotiating the Covid-19 new-normal which includes lockdowns, shutdowns, social distancing, remote working (or not working), will require a special set of skills. Will your brand survive?

This is a time of corporate cooperation. The Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic draws a direct focus on what consumers expect brands to do during pandemic. A whopping 81% of respondents said they must be able to trust a brand to do what is right, to not do so is a deal breaker or the deciding factor in their brand buying decision.

Around the world, industrial rivals are coming together for the greater good. Manufacturing facilities are retooling to provide PPE (personal protection equipment). Luxury conglomerate, LVHM is distilling hand-sanitizer for French health authorities for “as long as necessary”. General Motors is retooling to produce ventilators. In Ontario, Canada, InkSmith is using 3D printing to create face shields for frontline workers. Once approved by Health Canada, the company plans to provide the design free online. Until recently, a little-known company, now enjoys national good will recognition.

Along with shifting production focus, the allure of cutting short-term costs such as brand advertising needs to be resisted. If done correctly, this is a time when you can drive brand awareness and perception that may very well outweigh the temporary impact to metrics. Recent research has shown that consumers may even welcome ads as a distraction from the constant news cycle about Covid-19 (AdAge recently published the Kantar Covid-19 barometer report which found 77% of respondents “expect their brands to be helpful in what has become the ‘new everyday life’”. Only a small percentage – 8% – felt brands should stop advertising). Key implications for marketers include:

1) Authenticity is king. Brands must remain true to their values and adhere to the adage “solve, don’t sell”. Focus on finding meaningful solutions to the problem’s consumers are facing. responded quickly and authentically within brand character. Without saying a thing, Captain Obvious tells the world that this is not the time to travel but to stay at home

2) Advertising should continue but creative will need to be reviewed and refreshed. Your messaging strategy and how you approach creative should reflect the changing times and consumer sentiment. Ford quickly replaced its pre-Covid-19 creative with a message that highlights a payment relief program and reminds customers how they have responded to past disasters.

3) Content does not need to specifically reference Covid-19, but at the same time it should not exploit it or offer products or services that cannot be used or are not available.

4) Tone is everything. Don’t share anything that could cause panic or be viewed as exploitive.

5) Ads that depict restricted and/or banned behaviour, or use humour, should be tested to avoid possible backlash that could damage the brand.

6) Reassess your media mix. Changing realities have drastically changed media consumption patterns. As stay-at-home dominates, out-of-home and radio investments will need to be reassessed. Nielsen shows that staying put in our homes can lead to almost a 60% increase in the amount of content we consume. Beyond TV and media connectivity, consumers are switching to social media and search to drive the conversation, stay connected, informed, entertained and opinionated.

Photo by Benjamin Suter on Unsplash

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