Why Branding Matters During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In times of crisis, businesses either thrive or fall; they either already have the infrastructure in place to embrace opportunity or they crumble when confronted by a potentially significant setback. COVID-19 has, unfortunately, put us in a position where we have seen this situation play out many times. Those brands with a solid foundation have been able to pivot to the “new normal” while continuing to embrace their values and methodologies while others…were less fortunate. Branding, as has been made clear, is more essential than ever.
Why Branding Matters during COVID-19
Every integrated marketer knows the value of branding but many have not had to meet disruption head-on. While disruption can spur creativity and success, it can also lead to the downfall of organizations or marketers that aren’t prepared to face the maelstrom.
With the coronavirus, many shoppers have changed their buying habits, changed how they engage with brands, and even re-evaluated the brands that they had previously loyally followed based on response to the pandemic. For instance, those brands that didn’t adapt to change or scarcity, couldn’t transform their operations to digital quickly enough, didn’t react to CDC/OSHA directives for social distancing or mask-wearing, or were opportunistic instead of empathetic may not see the return of customers lost during this interval.
Entrepreneur and Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban has even commented on this phenomenon by saying that the way organizations respond during the crisis may “define their brands for decades.”
There are several philosophical and practical areas that brands can and should be re-evaluating or re-thinking during this time. Some of the places we’ve seen the most significant breakdowns for brands have been in the areas of development cycles and supply chains, the ability to address challenges, changing shopper habits (and whether they will stick), being open to new ideas, agility, marketing spending, and ethical positioning.
Every brand needs to reconsider what they bring to the table for customers.
- What do your customers want? (Engagement, shopping, compassion)
- Is your brand truly authentic? Consumers are putting more thought into the brands they do business with and demand transparency.
- How are you providing value to your customers?
- What types of changes should you make in the short- and long-term?
- What is your story? What are your core values, priorities, mission statement? Are they culturally sensitive and meaningful today?
Brands also need to look at logo design, colors, and taglines to determine their relevance in today’s world. These are all ways that consumers judge brands in a matter of seconds. Every integrated marketer needs to ensure that their organization is saying what it means to with its colors and imagery. A brand needs to communicate trustworthiness and alignment with customer values.
Is Your Brand Relatable?
At a fundamental level, does your brand espouse the values and embrace the realities of what matters most to your customers? Do you deliver not just content but emotional, valuable content that your customers want to read or see? Consumers relate to the companies that best align with their beliefs, interests, and experiences. If they trust your brand, if they feel an affinity with your organization, they will continue to show you loyalty post-pandemic.
Consider how to differentiate your brand by outlining the similarities with the interests of your customers rather than by highlighting the differences with your competitors. By reacting authentically to customer concerns and interests—always remaining true to your organizational standards—your customers will even more highly value their relationship with your brand. Allow your customers to guide the way and you will find success.