During times of crisis, businesses often struggle to convey their brand messages(especially smaller businesses).
How businesses conduct themselves during difficult times could affect their bottom line. So businesses need to take action so that they can come out ahead after a crisis.
There are two possible approaches for brands to market themselves during a crisis:
Ignoring the current situation sends a negative message to your audience and may negatively impact your brand image, resulting in loss of customers.
Smart and agile businesses are the ones who are constantly adapting their operations to best accommodate their customers during uncertain times:
A good example is Burger King’s response to the pandemic, by publishing their iconic Whopper recipe for customers to make at home, reminding customers that they can still enjoy a Whopper even if they are not able to visit a Burger King at the time. This will keep Burger King in the minds of the customers throughout the crisis, which will likely increase the number of visits once the pandemic is over.
Although your business may not be profiting at the moment, you should focus on building your brand for the long-term, by consistently reminding customers of your brand’s existence to encourage both existing and new customers to visit your business once the crisis is over.
In times of uncertainties, brands need to quickly reassess their current marketing strategy and make sure they are delivering the right messages to their customers in regards to the current situation.
Make sure to be genuine with your messaging and actions. Don’t try to capitalize on the situation – try to offer support. Most importantly, keep reminding customers of your brand – so that once the crisis is over they don’t forget about you.
Don’t ignore what’s happening. Acknowledge the issue at hand and adapt your business to the change in situation.
Brands who continue to ignore the situation by sending emails and creating advertisements with their pre-crisis messages are at risk of being seen as unempathetic. This creates a disconnect between the brand and the customers.
To establish a stronger position once a crisis is over, a brand must get its messaging right by investing in new content strategies that are relevant to the current situation.
Tips for implementing a content strategy during a crisis:
Here are some tips when considering your marketing approach during a crisis.
While every brand is different, this simplified action plan can help brands of all sizes make the right choices and avoid serious mistakes.
You should pay attention to the marketing efforts of other businesses in your geographic areas, as every region is handling the situation differently, so you can get an idea of how to best communicate your message.
Imagery is a powerful communication tool, sometimes even more important than words. It’s important to think about the messages your brand is sending to both your current and potential customers.
Using the current pandemic as an example:
It’s important to remember during times of uncertainty, don’t make it seem like you want to take advantage of the crisis to make a profit
A great branding message is one from Speedo.Swimming is a great activity to promote physical health as well as helping people cope with their stress and problems. For some people, swimming is an integral part of some people’s lives, and during a crisis, that’s when they would need it the most.
Speedo nailed their message by really understanding their audience, as they offered messages of support and inspiration across social media to keep people going.They shared how professional athletes are struggling to continue with their training and the impact this could have on their career.
A few days after the first message, Speedo followed up with “5 Dry Land Exercises to Give You More Power in The Pool.” This really connected with their target audience, as they weren’t trying to sell them anything but instead Speedo was helping their customers improve themselves during these difficult times.
This is a great image to aim for as it can be done simply by providing some helpful tips. To keep itself in the customers’ mind, Speedo was creating content around helping people better themselves in this situation, not solely pushing their products. Helping their customers stay in shape will remind people of Speedo when they decide to start swimming again after the crisis is over.
Luxury interiors and clothing company “The White Company” managed to address the current crisis but avoided any direct reference to it.
The company used the word ‘hibernation’ as it doesn’t quite reflect the current situation, but promotes positivity by taking attention away from the negative aspect of the ‘quarantine’.
Their content was very much on target with their audience as it recognizes that people will want to “nest” and find comfort during these times of stress.
They also recognize that their key demographic consists of children, and tries to help parents by offering tips and activities to keep kids entertained when they are stuck at home.
The White Company content strategy was successful, as their newsletters manage to connect their products to the situation in a relevant way.
Most brands will plan their editorial and content calendars long in advance. Especially in the fashion industry, with long lead times for range planning, production, and photoshoots.
Brands tend to invest massive budgets into campaigns to launch their new season products, but that is no excuse to continue to pursue it when it’s not appropriate to the current situation (even if a loss will be incurred), as it may come off as being insensitive.
There was an email from Massimo Dutti that was travel themed which was sent after the UK announced its lockdown. Advertising travel to customers when they can’t travel can be perceived as mocking the situations, and feels very insensitive as it endangers people’s lives.
In this case, Massimo Dutti’s message of ‘enjoy summer’ and images of walks on sunny beaches, city get-togethers and models in summer clothes leaning against palm trees were not appropriate with the current situation as everyone was advised to stay at home.
In addition, there was little consideration to the people who had lost money on booked holidays that they couldn’t refund due to the travel bans.
Massimo Dutti should reconsider their content marketing strategy and change their messaging to something that is more appropriate to the situation such as encouraging people to stay safe during these uncertain times, as opposed to traveling.
Take into account the tips provided, learn from the successful branding messages, and the unsuccessful one. It’s important to try and adapt your marketing strategies to be relevant to the current situation, and to be considerate of your audience and the messages you’re putting out there for them.
In times of crisis, it is understandable to feel anxious about the uncertainties of what will happen to your business. But those who come out on top in the end are the businesses who don’t panic and make smart decisions to best adapt to the situation. Most importantly your marketing efforts will determine the success of your business during and after the crisis, as that is your main form of communication between your brand and your customers. Constantly reminding customers about your brand will help your business build a stronger position for itself once everything returns to normal.
Everyone will face difficulties during times of crisis. It is important to remember that we are all in this together, and we should do everything we can to get through it together.