The year 2020 has started in a very unusual way. What started as the most productive and happening year for many has turned into the worst year in the entire history of human kind till date.
The Australian bush fires, threat of World War III, the global economic recession and now the pandemic of Corona Virus– all of these have happened within the span of 3 months. Amidst all the chaos and fear, many businesses and brands have tried leveraging the situation to sell their products. While many brands, on the other hand, trying are to be positive and showcase the brighter and better side of humanity.
With the outbreak of corona virus all around the world, I see many brands taking advantage of it to sell their products and services. Brands are trying to take advantage of current situations by hedging on public emotions and trying to get a reaction from them and make a sell. While this practice may not be legally wrong but it is something that is morally and ethically incorrect and should be avoided completely.
Big brands and businesses have the power to influence people, change their thinking and decision making power. And, especially in times like these, that comes in particularly handy. It is during times like these, big brands play a vital role in defining the outcome of any situation. They have the position and power to spread the right information, influence people, sway their opinions and most importantly, control the panic.
Brands and businesses have a responsibility towards the society. They are responsible to make sure that they are spreading the right information, curb the spread of rumors, and control panic. It is during times like these, we get to see the real moral values of big brands and businesses. We get to see how well their ‘values’ transfer from a piece of paper to practice.
I write this blog as a way to help you, your business and your brand to carry on your branding and marketing activities in the usual way while also being socially responsible and ethical. Here are few tips you need to keep in mind when applying your branding and marketing practices during crisis.
Know Your Brand
This may sound bizarre but you should know your brand, your product and all your offerings before you start communicating with your audience and others during such crisis.
You need to make sure that your offerings are offer-able and advertise-able to the public during such times. You need to make sure that all your communications are sensitive and do not create a spark or a state of panic among your audience.
As a brand, you need to make sure all the information you provide with regards to your products is true. Do not try to advertise your product falsely in order to make the sale. For example, if you are a Soap company, advertising that your product can ‘kill’ the corona virus is wrong and should be avoided.
As a brand, you need to extra careful and cautious when communicating such claims. You will need to make sure that everything you communicate and claim is backed-up properly with correct facts.
Stay Up-to-date on information
We are living in an age where people are getting their news from their social networks more than the news channels. So, as a brand you need to make sure that you stay up-to-date on the right and correct information if you wish to educate your audience.
Always stay on the hunt to look out for an opportunity where you can showcase your brand by spreading the right information and by debugging the myths and fake information prevailing in the market.
Use your brand as a platform to spread the right information that can ease the panic instead of creating it. If you wish to promote your product and service in them, make sure you tie them in an indirect manner. Promoting your product directly during such times in form of spreading information can create a backlash for your brand. tie-in your product in an indirect manner, showcase the right information first followed by how your product helps.
Educate your audience
The most important thing you do as a brand during a crisis like this is, educate your audience in the right way and make sure they have all the right information.
Educate your audience on how they can tackle the crisis at hand, share the correct information with them. Many brands, including the likes of McDonald’s, Burger King among others are taking over their social medias and branding campaigns to educate people about the ongoing pandemic and how their small efforts can help curb the spread.
The only reason why a customer would be interested in your branding campaign is because of the value your brand provides them. So now, in order to make your current audience stay and attract new people towards your brand, provide them with something valuable.
Currently, there is nothing more valuable than providing the right and adequate information with regards to the corona outbreak and the efforts to limit its spread. Even if you have nothing to provide in terms of information, give your audience valued added services in form of free deliveries or contact-less deliveries.
Brands like Netflix, Prime Videos and even regional OTT platforms are playing their part, providing people with value in form of reading recommendations, creating binge list and offering monthly subscriptions at a lower cost or for free.
Be Mindful and Alert
You know this- The tone you use in your marketing and branding campaigns greatly affects your brand. But, what you don’t know is this- You need to be extra careful and mindful of your tone and voice when communicating during times like these. You need to double check and ensure the tone of your communication is right and sensitive.
Currently, majority of your audience is in isolation and quarantine, make sure that your message is humble and does not come out as a mockery campaign. Respect the situation, have a look at what people are saying about your brand online. Measure the conversation and communicate accordingly.
Take a break
Sometimes, the best thing you can do during such situations is DO NOTHING.
Yes, you read it right. Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing anything at all. There are certain situations where you can contribute more by doing nothing. Instead of marketing your products and services, market the right information, debunk the myths.
Brands, especially big brands like Coco-Cola, Burger King have confirmed that they will stop their marketing and promotions for next few weeks and instead donate that amount for research work that will aid in the efforts to fight the Covid-19 virus.
Probably the most important point in the list, during such delicate times, act as humanly as possible and in an ethical way. It is during times like these, we get to see the real values of brands. We see how the values and principles of a brand transform from paper to real world.
Many brands are trying to take advantage of this situation and promote their products and some are are even throwing shades at their competition. Do not do that. That is not only ethically wrong but also leaves a bad taste in the mouth of your audience.
We all know that branding is a continuous and ongoing process which helps your brand and product to stand apart from the rest of segment. But during times like these, we need to be careful and extra sensitive with our efforts to create awareness. One wrong or misdirected step and it can affect your brand in a major way.