Crisis or opportunity: building your company’s brand during the time of COVID-19 [analysis]


The COVID-19 crisis has sent economic shock waves around the world and seen businesses in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere cut costs. This may seem prudent but it may not be the best course of action for your brand, says digital marketer Andreia Brodsky.

SP Brewery staff carrying out temperature checks in an effort to increase its COVID-19 precautions. Credit: SP Brewery/Facebook.

The short-term impulse may be to hunker down, cut back or halt completely, but this global pause may be an opportunity to concentrate on long-term planning that will ultimately strengthen your brand.

The way a brand deals with the COVID-19 crisis will influence the way consumers perceive it in the future.

During the COVID-19 crisis, brands that are able to deliver messages that communicate empathy, have real value, do right by the community and inform – instead of ignoring or downplaying the situation – will see their value grow.

‘Consumers don’t want brands to go silent.’

There are many examples of companies using this uncertain period to continue to offer stakeholders real value and build their brand as a result.

For example, people will appreciate and remember that during this time, global brewing company AB InBev repurposed their alcohol-making capabilities to produce much-needed hand-sanitiser. Tech giant Adobe has made their Creative Cloud platform free for schools and other educational institutions during the closures. Banks, such as Bank South Pacific in PNG, have slashed overdraft fees and cut interest rates to help its customers. In its attempt to address the crisis. In PNG, ExxonMobil announced its efforts to educate local communities about health measures, provide supplies and basic provisions, and donate fuel to help reach remote communities.

Story continues after advertisment...

Getting the messaging right

In the UK, fast food company Pret a Manger took a stand to help medical workers by offering them free hot drinks and 50 per cent off other products. Its CEO, Pano Christou, said in a message: ‘The Pret family and the whole world are in uncharted territory, and it is important that we show solidarity and stand by each other in this difficult time.’

Some brands, instead of offering discounted or free products or services, have taken steps to address customers’ and employees’ concerns. For example, many hotels and hospitality services have announced the measures they’ve taken to ensure hygienic cleaning standards, including temperature checks for staff.

The mistake is following a ‘business as usual’ approach that some companies have taken, which may lead people to believe that they are out of touch with reality or simply don’t care.

Getting the message out there

With the entire world locked down looking for content, this pandemic can be the perfect time to launch an advertising campaign, as long as your message is thoughtful and appropriate. Alternatively, existing ad campaigns can be repurposed during this period with a little bit of creative thinking.

PNG retailer CPL Group has playfully amended its corporate logo to incorporate a health message for COVID-19.  Credit: CPL Group

While many companies have stopped advertising during this economic downturn, continuing to run ads will increase the brand’s share of voice (meaning, you will stand out from the crowd).

For example, if you run a restaurant business that has been promoted as having ‘the most delicious pizza in town’ perhaps a new campaign could push that your pizzas are still the most delicious but also that you’re keeping your doors open and staff employed during the COVID-19 crisis while offering takeaway only.

Forward-thinking brands have recognised that this is a time to give, help and solve problems – rather than focus solely on commercial growth. Consumers don’t want brands to go silent.

It is worth noting, however, that brands should also be careful to show that they are not taking these steps just to ‘look good’; consumers recognise opportunism and inauthenticity.

Andreia Brodsky is Digital Marketing Manager at Business Advantage International.

Leave a Reply