The one constant in these unsettled times is that change is happening quickly.
Speculations of what our world may look like once we have left the pandemic behind continue to morph and circulate daily, forcing businesses to radically innovate and change the way they operate. While no global leader, scientist, doctor, business owner or everyday person can foresee our post-coronavirus world, one shift has already emerged: physical distancing measures have given rise to a whole-of-community consciousness.
Our empathies have been honed into an acute awareness of those who “have” and those who “have not,” leading to a rejection of individualism over collectivism.
The “brand me” messaging of our hyperconnected world has now been speedily replaced with “brand we” and that has propelled brand purpose back into the spotlight for many organisations trying to uphold their relevance.
Advertisers worldwide are treading lightly. Companies are reviewing their advertising budgets and even pulling campaigns completely to balance the fine line between optimising brand health and appearing self-serving at a time of crisis.
However, market research indicates that as low as 8% of consumers believe brands actually need to pause their advertising efforts during the coronavirus outbreak. Rather, there is a clear consensus that brands should consider their tone and messaging and reinforce their value at helping their customers and their community at large.
With consumer behaviour changing so rapidly, what actions should brands be taking to serve and grow customer bases in the current climate? It may be hard for marketers to answer this question, which is why the first step to taking action would be to immerse in reflection.
Organisations should take the time to ask themselves some honest questions that could spark a pivot aligned to their purpose:
Once you have clear conclusions for your research you can assemble messages and tactics that give your brand a chance to express your voice and purpose in a more meaningful and sensitive way. You must ensure your new strategy aligns to your sense of authenticity and brand DNA. Yours should be a voice that adds or amplifies the common goodwill that your anxious audience expects, while remaining true to your raison d'etre. Tactics that fall short of this, run the risk of being perceived as disingenuous, so socialising your intentions to your community first can really help to mitigate your risks upfront.
It is quite easy to come up with a solution that addresses the challenges consumers are facing daily (mostly a lack of toilet paper and sanitiser) however, how your business chooses to pivot must align with your brand purpose.
Re-visiting your brand purpose will provide the level of clarity you need to harness your brand and focus on what sets you apart from competitors. Ask yourself:
If your brand value for example is a commitment to customers, you might want to think about greater ways to prioritise your user in an online environment. MECCA, a beauty franchise dedicated to exceptional service has pivoted to exceed customer expectations online and is sure to promote this message through social media channels. MECCA’s website now hosts a chat function, whereby customers can ask beauty experts pressing questions and they are also offering a virtual service that allows customers to FaceTime makeup and skincare specialists for product recommendations.
As the pandemic continues on, and more and more people are in need, community conscious brands are responding instinctively as good corporate citizens should by lending a helping hand in areas that are most in need. In doing so, these brands are not only promoting compassion, but they are also demonstrating their values alignment with their customers to help establish stronger bonds of solidarity, trust and loyalty.
Think of unique and innovative ways you could repurpose your business’ operations to provide creative solutions for the number of coronavirus inflicted challenges. It may be a sense of boredom, helplessness, loneliness, a lack of motivation or direction, or simply addressing the inaccessibility of essential products and services.
For example, seeing the shortage of hand sanitiser, our friends at The Gin Joint converted their stills to meet the demand under their craft label Here’s Looking at You Kid. Staying true to its brand and hyperlocal sourcing ethos, our client bottled its hand sanitiser with the scent of native lemon myrtle and eucalyptus to create a new popular seller. .
With social distancing keeping most at home, there’s been a sizable shift to online experiences as we seek to virtually connect with the wider world. Consumers are spending more time than ever on social media, seeking novel forms of entertainment online, streaming workout sessions and social engagements, and placing a greater demand on e-commerce and home delivery services to satiate our retail cravings.
With COVID-19 coverage blanketing our news and social media, we’ve also become increasingly hungry for non-COVID-19 stories, punctuated by the explosive popularity of stream-on-demand content such as Netflix’s Tiger King and John Kransinsky’s SGN series.
And yet, so few brands have invested in creating content specifically for the purpose of entertaining their most ardent followers, uplifting their brands and galvanising brand love in the process. Storytelling can be incredibly uplifting , and right now, when audiences need it most, it seems like one of the most powerful things you can do for your brand to prepare it for a post-COVID-19 future.
One brand bucking the trend is our neighbours at Cinema Nova. Temporarily closed in response to the crisis, the team have been busily investing in curating and creating content to keep the movie-going mood alive while we’re in lockdown. By leveraging their bank of cinematic history knowledge, nostalgic flashbacks, interviews with cinema industry legends, and referring its audience to the best of free to air movies on TV, engagement in their social media channels have increased with regular commentary from fans of the cinema giving staff an added boost of confidence.
It has taken a pandemic of unprecedented proportions to highlight what leading brand strategists have been theorising for years. Maintaining your brand community is king, and in times of crisis, it’s the one true north that can get you out of spiralling consumer confidence.
Anticipating the need to present as a grassroots operator, we advised JL King & Co. to direct their media, messaging and touchpoints during this challenging time to highlight their understated, but important presence as a regional business and community contributor. With a considered purpose in mind, we visited our wonderful clients in Bendigo, prior to extended lockdown measures, and photographed staff members doing what they do best - supplying fresh and high quality produce to local businesses.
As a family owned company with a significant history as a local citizen, JL King & Co. has long contributed back to their local community. The new content, which has been rolled out across its platforms reflects the community-driven spirit of the brand and reinforces JL King & Co.’s value as a local business - an important message in these trying times where people are seeking comfort, familiarity, trust and security.