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7 Tips - Perserve your Brand in a Pandemic

By: Joe Cavalio - Sr. Brand Consultant

With the peak of the Pandemic yet to be realised it would be highly presumptuous to have finalised on your Brands strategic direction for the remainder of 2020 and 2021. So, to steer marketers and business owners in the right direction I have created seven tips assigned my advice and picked heartening case studies to illustrate best practice. The Coronavirus otherwise known as COVID-19 has changed our landscape in a matter of weeks and left us facing 3-6 monthly of further uncertainty.

The following words encompass everything your company may like to further consider and discuss Resilience, Confidence, Focus, Community, Compassion, Appreciation, and Adaptability.

1. Resilience - A crisis is a time of intense difficulty and danger, normally it's very hard to be prepared for the eventualities at the moment. Long-term strategies become dreams and are highly dependent on the outcome of multiple external factors.

Advice: A brand that makes it through such times without compromising its core values will have shown resilience. By marrying campaigns with your day-to-day principles; brands can build vital loyalty, life-long belief systems and establish trust leading to reduced introspection and circumspection in the future.

  • Uber and Deliveroo faced great uncertainty as the public were placed on lockdown and restaurants closed for business. Both brands have rather leveraged their USP’s in delivery to offer free services for NHS workers. Their partners such as Pizza Hut have chipped in to donate 300,000 of their own hot dishes. Both companies have already received thanks from the Health Secretary Matt Hancock who is also battling the coronavirus himself. I wish him and everyone struggling with this virus speedy recovery. (Watch this space as Uber, Deliveroo and Amazon are under the microscope for failing their own employees in relation to pay policies.)

2. Confidence - This is not about being loud, bolshy or commandeering but rather self-assured. A commander will carefully determine the best time to address his troops and be aware the presentation is clear, informed and accurate. Standing amongst a magnitude of mixed messages, panic and political persuasion are our consumers desperately in need of guidance, comforting and your leadership.

Advice: Brands are responsible for persuading consumer behaviour, and in many ways creating a reliable social calendar. The impact of suddenly losing this routine can stimulate uncertainty which sadly may lead to anxiety and depression. Marketing communications, therefore, need to be challenged to explore deeper, thoughtful or emotional content and copy; emphasising products perceived benefits and attributes. Your goals here would be to increase popularity, image and reputation.

  • Joe Wicks well known by adults and teens for his contribution to healthy living and food preparation in minutes has overnight been transformed into the Physical Education (PE) teacher for the country. His 9 am YouTube exercise show has pulled daily viewers of over 800,000 and topped over 13million views in its first week. I'm sure Joe didn’t see this coming but sensed how important it would be for children to have a routine and opportunity to burn off the energy whilst schools are closed; he has put his heart into creating fun workouts. If Joe wasn’t all ready doing enough he is now committing all revenue from the Youtube channel to support in Coronavirus efforts. This man and his family are the salts of the earth.

3. Focus - What ‘was' a clear, well-designed operational plan has abruptly been derailed. Internal departments are drifting apart and cracks are appearing. This is all caused by delayed direction from corporate heads nervous to make a strategical move until they totally understand or have satisfactorily predicted the outcome of this unprecedented environment.

Advice: It’s now time to step-up, basic communication with internal and external stakeholders is better than no communication. Corporate leadership during an epidemic or pandemic is not defined by the C.E.O's or MD's knowing all the answers or making all the decisions alone. Employees, customers, suppliers and unions want clear communication channels for the dissimulation of key updates, progress reports and notices. Information should be shared promptly, at agreed intervals and with representatives contributing from wider stakeholders groups. Multiple platforms are available so feel free to use anything from letters, emails to social media posts; importantly ensure your customers and employees are engaged. This is the time to prove your organisations real-world authority and pull in your highly qualified teams and their resources to provide a point of view that will assist in forming your brand direction.

  • If your focus is to ensure the welfare and wellbeing of your employees/customers during isolation, feedback the positive and challenging stories to the whole business. A company that fights together stays together. Going off the radar and zero interaction will not support operational stimulation when the dust starts to settle.

4. Community - We are all in this together, although isolation tends to breed individualism and sensations of distance. A pandemic unities people locally and globally. We witness acts of kindness, selflessness and inspiration from many geographies. Our human instincts to survive, sustain our family & friends and to overcome adversity is mimicked across the surface of the earth.

Advice: Companies are stepping up-to-the plate without being asked or expected to, brands should embrace this situation and widen their market reach by interacting with new population segments. Look to stimulate your other communities, explore similar activities outside of your comfort zone and draw inspiration from other cultures.

  • Ladbaby Pub Lock-In has been created by a wonderful couple from their garden shed and hosted through on YouTube and Instagram. They have embraced technology, culture and British tradition to create an online Pub lock-in on Saturday nights. The show is packed with entertaining segments and special guest appearances, the content aims to raise community spirit and encourage togetherness. The Saturday show had over 12k live viewers and cleared 100k in less than 24hours. Ladbaby is the perfect example of how with a splash of creativity, people can bring smiles and laughter back to society.

5. Compassion - Helping and friend or neighbour in a time of need. Yes, we are all for the first time in need of charity. Not primarily in the form of monetary contributions but also in dedicated time and devoted attention. This is an ideal moment to show how sensitive your corporation/business/consultancy is. Social levels have been flattened resulting in an opportunity for connections and interactions between business leaders, divisional heads and operation staff.

Advice: As steady recovery occurs across the globe, trends and best practices can be explored, brands can empower employee’s and customers to suggest improvements to operational challenges and workplace hardships. By involving teams in the solution, a business will enjoy natural commitment and self-motivation during implementation.

You can also drop competitive barriers and stretch the institutional red tape so people can be enabled. Focus on building new relationships and partnering with companies in other countries; with people that think like you!

  • The NHS UK called for 250,000 volunteers and receiving over 400,000 applications in under 24 hours. This is a brand used to a media battering for high waiting times and underperformance, but now proving to have mass public support when in the hour of need. Clap for the NHS brought the whole nation out on their doorsteps to show love for the key-workers helping to save the country.

  • Supermarket legislations have been waived to allow retailers to share data on stock levels, cooperate to keep shops open or share distribution depots and delivery vans. The 5p plastic bag charge has also been removed from online orders to help speed up delivers. These are unprecedented actions that reflect the desire of the corporate world to put profit-making and market share aside to provide for the population.

6. Appreciation - Thankfully at these times global Hero's will emerge, with a spirit of selflessness, happy to fly under the radar yet deserved of recognition. These people will be the celebrities of the hour and potential influencers of the days and months ahead.

Advice: Whilst employees are away from there desks trying to self-quarantine it's likely their priorities will shift and work behaviourism diminishing over time. Brands need to quickly find new ways to identify and recognise their people. It's time to thank those that form the stable foundations of your corporation. Is your organisation going ‘above and beyond?’.

  • The UK government has introduced never seen before financial support packages that will help employee’s, self-employed and venerable people. These measures assure the public of their importance to the survival of the country, thus, in turn, establishing Maslow’s most basic physiological need, without which societal stability could collapse.

  • “We know how to bring the economy back to life. What we do not know how is how to bring people back to life” - President Akufo-Addo of Ghana. This statement during a coronavirus emergency address to the nation was very emotional, it emphasises the ultimate value of human life over material things.

7. Adaptability - Last but in no way the least is the ability of a brand to change. The crisis is normally followed by a turning point in history as Sebastian Junger also explores in ‘Tribe’. This has been the case with The Blitz in the UK and 911 in America resulting in changes been seen socially, culturally and politically. At times of difficulty, all communities become smaller and common interests become readily shared. Generous actions communicate support, relieve tensions and provide hope that transcends time.

Advice: The extent of change will vary depending on the sector a brand operates. Anticipating upgrades in procedures now will help in the short-term recovery process. We are aware businesses are facing a brainstorming minefield so caution should be exemplified when concluding. We recommend decision-makers seek wisdom from past business figures who have faced similar dramatic times. Brands that are future thinking, responsive and environmentally awareness will rise like the Phoenix to be opportunely positioned for new and emerging market opportunities.

  • James Dyson known globally for hoovers has designed a new medically approved ventilator in 10 days and has over 15,000 orders to date.

  • Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy ‘LVMH’ has retooled some of their factories to start producing hydroalcoholic gel (hand sanitiser). A perfect message that says ‘we do care’ and ingenious proactive use of resources which reflect sustainability. This initiative counteracts the normal negative rhetoric attributed to the high-end, high margin, luxury brand sector.

Over the coming months I will be tracking the stages of this pandemic to identify more best practice crisis management strategies.

If you have any best practice examples kindly forward them to and follow our Facebook page @nelcoandfuture for regular strategical updates.

Thank you for reading.

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