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Branding In Crisis

The biggest brand value during this crisis is our wellbeing and the need to look after our physical and mental health. 

During this crisis, everyone’s priority – from businesses to communities to individuals – is looking after our health & safety.  

But the continued restrictions bring significant challenges for businesses looking to protect and preserve their brands. The wrong brand move could be disastrous; no one wants to be seen profiteering. It’s a bit like a game of chess, where the opening move to make has to be do the brand no harm. 

Consumer Watch.

Consumers are paying close attention to brands and their behaviour. In a world where, on March 20, more than one third of the world’s population was on lockdown, they have time to watch, listen and learn. Many are very worried about their prospects for the future. The fact that this pain is widespread doesn’t make it any better. The general atmosphere of fear, anxiety and worry about the future is comparable to feelings during a war. Being brand-ready for the future in this environment is a challenge. 

Consumer Research.

Data from across Europe highlights consumer thinking and might help point your branding in the right direction. 

  • 83% think brands should provide flexibility in payment options.
  • 81% think they should offer free services and be seen to pitch in and take some of the pain.
  • Only 37% of consumers want brands to continue to advertise as normal. 
  • 67% think non-essential brands should suspend production.
  • 79% think non-essential stores should be closed down. 

(Source?) 

On the face of it, it’s easy to dismiss: of course consumers like payment flexibility and free services. However, the acquiescence of consumers to this new reality, with only essential stores and services still in operation, sends the strong message that they are not interested in being sold to right now. If any business is out there promoting non-essential services or products to consumers, it’s a bit like playing squash against a haystack: it gets a very poor response, and is a total waste of time and effort with no end game in sight.

What’s Happening with Brands 

Working on the basis that consumers are not interested in marketing or sales pitches, it’s a good time to consider whether your brand has an opportunity to work towards social responsibility. It’s a great opportunity to connect on a deeper level with your audience, and demonstrate your core values as a business. This is happening now at both local and national levels. 

Irish National Examples.

  • Supervalu (in this location) have the contact numbers of over 70’s who they call and check in with, make deliveries to and collect their pension.
  • Tesco is giving all of their 3,000 at-risk staff – pregnant women, and people over 70 – 12 weeks paid leave. 
  • Vodafone has donated 1000 smart phones and 2000 20 euro to the charity Alone, which works to combat social isolation in the elderly population 
  • Ryanair has offered all of its planes to EU governments for rescue and emergency transport flights.

Irish Local Examples. 

  • Specsavers staff have been carrying out remote hearing aid repairs and delivering prescription frames.
  • Micil Distillery in Galway has paused its poitin making and is now making hand sanitisers for the local communities. Slainte!
  • Peter Mark has been offering online tutorials on how to cut your own hair.
  • City Print in Cork has teamed up with artist and illustrator Jason O’ Gorman and sent out 7000 colouring books for children
  • Fitness Instructor Sinead Kennedy is offering free stretch and relax classes online to over 65’s.
  • Choice Hotels are offering all healthcare workers a free stay when they have time to visit.
What Could You Do?

If you have skills and the technology available, listed below are some examples of what consumers in your area might like to hear about.

  • Can you remotely offer some service or product training? Live streams over social media are an engaging way to connect with your audience 
  • If your brand content is normally fun or light-hearted, can you write something that gives your audience a reason to smile?
  • For service-based business like architect firms, can you share the best/ worst/most fun experience you recall?
  • Can you offer a free token with an invite for your first cup of coffee after lockdown?
  • Can you offer advice on good practices for working from home?
  • The list goes on and on….
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