Keep Your Brand From Falling Into The Abyss During COVID-19
Updated: Dec 19, 2020
Follow These Six Steps To Keep Your Brand Alive!
As the world muddles through amidst various stages of lockdown, we continue to see specific trends in the way people are interacting with brands, which are presenting challenges for many to cut through. The brands that have learned and adjusted quickly have not only succeeded in cutting through but have strengthened their relationship with audiences. There’s more noise than ever. Despite record levels of time spent by consumers on digital channels, we have seen a commensurate increase in brand-initiated digital activity meaning that brands have to be smarter to stand out. While people are being personally affected differently by the COVID-19 situation, it’s fairly safe to say that most are in a completely different headspace, which has upended how they interact with communications. The usual rules of engagement don’t apply. What you can do: 1. Adhere to basic direct marketing principles. COVID-19 is not a cue to communicate with everyone on your database or people with whom you have not communicated for some time. Only up the frequency of your communications, if you have a valid or relevant reason to do so. Additionally, audiences will reward you for personalized and segmented communications. If possible, consider new segmentation based on an understanding of their COVID-19 mindset and needs. 2. Avoid saying the bleeding obvious. They were relevant and funny once, but they have quickly become noise pollution. To avoid statements such as “we are working from home and washing our hands too.” 3. Be authentic With the rise in the volume of direct marketing, audiences have become desensitized to clichéd and trite phrases such as “we’re here for you” and “we’re all in this together.” While you might genuinely mean that, it’s best to avoid phrases like these that have very quickly become “loaded.” Authenticity is indeed the gold standard but must be more than skin deep. It’s a brand promise; a contract with your audiences. For instance, I was quick to call my bank in response to a full-page ad in The Age detailing the support measures they were offering their clients. After one of the best brand experiences I have ever had with my bank – genuine and empathetic – I am yet to hear back from them. That was six weeks ago. 4. Add value to the conversation. A heightened volume of communications has quickly bred an intolerance for repetitious, say-nothing comes. Before communicating, consider that it is likely for many others to be sending the same message to your audience the same day. What value are you adding to the conversation, to their situation, that hasn’t been saying before or at least, the same way before? Before you hit the big red button, read through your communications with a critical eye, and ask yourself, will the recipient be better off from receiving this communication? 5. Be distinctive but not just through consistency. There has never been a more important time to adopt a “one look, one feels, one voice” approach. And make it distinctive. We have new clients coming to us complaining that their digital brand engagement has plummeted during COVID-19. There are many possible reasons for this; one of which is that COVID-19 has highlighted their lack of brand distinctiveness. When brands are communicating more, they have to work harder to stand out. This is partly achieved through maintaining absolute consistency, but also through reconnecting with your purpose, your unique value proposition, your differentiators, and expressing them clearly and powerfully in your visual and written communications – for example, brand identity, messaging, and communications. Importantly, this also must be backed up by the behavior of your people. Is it time for a rebrand? Maybe, maybe not. But now is certainly a good time to reflect on and possibly hone your brand approach. 6. Don’t pitch, offer genuine, personalized solutions. The increased volume of communications and the millions of consultants who have jumped on the “we are here to help” bandwagon means that most commercial propositions are ignored. Audiences are more open to organizations that show a genuine understanding of their situation and offer potential solutions without the commercial sting. Commercial conversations do and are happening, but they generally require more effort and empathy. COVID-19 has certainly caused profound trauma, loss, and disruption around the world. But as an optimist, I’d like to think COVID-19 is having a therapeutic effect on how brands engage with their audiences. As it shines a spotlight on organizations’ branding and communications deficiencies, it will be the enlightened ones among us that will adapt and be better for it on the other side.
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Dr. Osiris LaMario Delany Ed.D M.B.A. – Contributing Writer
Dr. Osiris LaMario Delany is an international professor of African studies, a prominent sociologist, and a business expert. In addition, Dr. Delany is a long-time business writer and a longtime advocate for children's literacy. Dr. Delany has spent the last ten years abroad traveling to numerous countries donating books and giving lectures on financial literacy.