The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically altered our collective market space. Even as states begin to open up, it’s impossible to know how long it will be before we get back to normal, or even what "normal" will look like.
One thing that is clear is that brands are needing to adjust and tune themselves into the new reality, both right now and in the long-term. Recently, I reached out to our colleagues at Celtic, a branding agency with whom we share a long history. Together, Celtic and Ascedia put together our collective insights on managing your brand during a pandemic.
1. Focus on Brand Messaging
Now is the time to focus your branding on what you’re doing to help customers through tough situations. A subtle sales message is perfectly fine but find the right balance. Guinness pulled this off perfectly with their St. Patrick’s Day spot.
Additionally, it’s important to look at existing assets to make sure they reflect and are sensitive to current conditions. For example, does the imagery you use have people interacting closely with one another? Those that do not reflect best practices recommended by experts may need to be shelved for the time being to ensure your brand doesn't come across as out of touch.
2. Stay Active on Social Media
There’s a theory that those who go dark during difficult times take longer to bounce back once the rebound occurs. One way brands can stay in front of their customers is by staying active on social media channels. Some thoughts:
- Share human stories about how you’re handling the current situation.
- Highlight products or services you’re currently offering that may help with new norms around COVID-19.
- Ask questions and be responsive to your followers.
3. Create a Video
Use short videos as a tool to engage with customers, and share the things you are working on to help them. This work does not have to be anything fancy; case in point, look at this recent video from Walmart.
4. Consider Public Relations
Media outlets (trade and consumer) are always looking for good story ideas. Pitch your subject matter experts and how they can provide perspective on specific topics. The key in pitching a story is don’t be too self-promotional. If your organization is helping with the response to the COVID-19 crisis, be sure to highlight that. Think about a reporter’s needs and the interests of his/her audience.
And last but not least, stay positive. There’s a lot of news out there right now and, unfortunately, much of it is rather grim. We all need some good news to help us through, so if you have a positive story to tell, don’t be afraid to share.
5. Update Your Website
There’s no better marketing channel and no better salesperson than your website. Unfortunately, too many have left their site in a “set it and forget it" mode. Right now is a good time to dive into a thorough review process, identifying key areas where improvements or efficiencies could be made. Focus less on selling and more on storytelling. Need some help getting started? Here’s a helpful website evaluation checklist from Ascedia.
6. Tackle Brand "Spring Cleaning"
Now’s the time to tackle some of those projects that have been sitting on the back burner. You know the projects… landing page updates, collateral materials, photography upgrades, social media audits, etc. These activities are often forgotten during busy periods. Now’s the time to address them and make sure they are ready to go as we move into the summer months.
7. Constantly Adapt
We have all been moving at a breakneck pace. Just look at how fast we have moved into our home offices and have turned into Zoom masters. As this pandemic wears on, marketers will need to have a good handle on their target audience and recognize the need to adjust messaging to stay relevant with the customers and prospects.
8. Stay Healthy
Most importantly, you have to take care of yourself during difficult times. Go for a walk with your dog, turn off negative news, download a relaxation app, and most importantly, connect with other humans. You’re not alone.
So what’s working for you right now? How are you pushing your marketing campaigns forward?