Adapting Branding and Marketing for the COVID-19 Crisis
Since 2005, we’ve been helping our clients adapt their brands to evolve over time and to address a range of external factors including current events, industry trends, and economic transitions. One of the biggest pitfalls in branding and marketing is creating a brand or strategy, and never touching it again. To be successful, the brand must always evolve with the times – whether they are good or bad. With the latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, this basic principle is even more critical than ever before.
COVID-19 is affecting end customers and companies across almost all industries. People have taken to their homes to honor stay at home orders, and brands are bracing for potential economic effects that may follow. For this reason, we have been working hard to stay on top of customer sentiment and overall effects in each industry to make sure our marketing is appropriate in tone, while adjusting strategy to meet each clients’ fluid needs.
Here are a few of our basic tips to help any business navigate this evolving situation.
One of the biggest shifts in our organic and paid social media strategy has been an overall pivot away from content that feels sales-centric to content that is helpful to each specific market, particularly as it relates to stay at home orders which are now affecting 50% of the US population. For example, for our home accessory clients, we are providing a much higher volume of editorial content including useful recipes, family entertainment, and design inspiration to help customers create a more comfortable stay at home experience.
Watch Your Tone
Customers may be feeling anxious during this time, and toning down copy and visuals to be sensitive to the public’s sentiment is crucial to avoid being tone deaf. Simplicity has been key in our recent marketing copy overhauls, minimizing playful or overly excited tones to be more straightforward and optimistic. In addition, generally shorter and uncomplicated copy has been effective in achieving a more time-appropriate tone.
If your business provides something of value to customers, now is a great time to offer additional products or services at free or reduced rates. Many of the remote communication platforms including Zoom have offered expanded services during this time. Learning based apps including Epic have also extended remote student access during school closures related to COVID-19.
During a time where news is changing daily, it’s impossible to use a “set it and forget it” approach to any pre-planned marketing initiative. While setting a loose strategy and timeline is still a good thing, projects and campaigns should be evaluated weekly or even daily to make sure they are still relevant and in sync with customers.
Evaluate Sales Channels
E-commerce sales are projected to boom in 2020 due to changes in customer shopping behavior stemming from the cultural changes already inflicted by COVID-19. If you have a product that can be sold online, it’s a great time to implement an e-commerce strategy or shift more attention to this sales channel. From January 1 to March 22, internet traffic was up 18% – a shift directly related to COVID-19. People are working, consuming news, connecting with loved ones, and shopping almost exclusively online. This increasingly digital-centric mindset could have a permanent impact on consumer behavior in favor of online interactions.
If at all possible given the specific effects on your particular industry, communicate to your customers that you are still there and available for them through the crisis and beyond – even if it means the terms have changed. After evaluating for relevance, keep going with all marketing initiatives, particularly social media and advertising, given the tone and content is appropriate. Marketing and advertising can be even more important in times of turmoil as it communicates corporate stability and reliability during tough times. With the recent unprecedented increase in remote work, digital communication, and time spent on social media, digital marketing has proven to be more important than ever in staying connected with your markets and on the pulse of modern connectivity.