Brands Should Be a Force for Good During the COVID-19 Crisis
Not trying to state the obvious, but I’ll get straight to the point: these are worrying times and everyone, including you and your customers, is trying to get through lockdowns, uncertainty, anxiety, and—potentially—the loss of loved ones. While we have limited control over many factors in this crisis, brands can help us keep a lifeline into normality—to the world before COVID-19.
Having a warm cup of coffee in your living room, brushing your teeth before starting a day of working from home, changing your baby’s nappy, playing a game on your phone, putting on your best clothes for that video conference, drinking a glass of wine in your back garden or on your balcony (if you’re lucky enough to have one)—these are all things people still do every day. All of these things are participated by brands.
And while we still rely on brands, we’re also worried that we may not get what we’d like at the store (if we can still go) or even online. People are uncertain about your stock and concerned about panic buying. In many countries, services deemed as “non-essential” are being temporarily shut down, and more eyes are turning to online services, entertainment, and stores. We are all preparing for—or already going through—some kind of eerie spring hibernation, but we’re still choosing, shopping, and hoping we’ll see each other on the other side and celebrate.
This is a time to have honest, truthful conversations with people, even to reassure them if you can. Talk to your customers like real humans that may be going through a tough situation. Marketing can be (at VidMob we think that it should be) a force for good. This is a chance for brands to ask themselves: are we a force for good? Are we helping people feel better? What stories are we telling?
Life has changed, and it looks like it may stay this way for a while. You may need to revisit your brand’s Unique Selling Points, or even its place in all this--maybe also after all this. You may be going through a re-evaluation of your brand's values or building your response to the COVID-19 crisis (we all got those emails). This is an opportunity to be incredibly creative, to try something you may never have done before, to take a stance and do something unusual, to redefine the role of your products in the world. Start by thinking about how people are using them: what role does your brand play now that life as we know it has been put on hold?
While we should always be kind to each other, this special situation requires extra effort from all of us—brands included. Choosing your words carefully, being open and honest, not being afraid to show our vulnerability, staying positive while acknowledging the issues we’re all going through, and not appearing tone deaf are more important than ever if we want to make the world a better place.
Take it seriously
The COVID-19 crisis is serious (is there actually anyone still challenging this?). Some have even called it “the challenge of a generation.” Brands that rise up to the challenge with strong values, determination and bravery will emerge as leaders in their category and thrive once this is over.
Brands are currently making difficult decisions about social distancing, store closures, or customer safety measures. These decisions change people’s lives. Communicating these decisions well will go a long way in making people feel better and more comfortable ordering your products. It will help reduce their anxiety levels, and give them a little help to feel relaxed and well.
Lead the way on treating your workforce with respect and kindness, and yes, why not tell us about it? Your HR and recruitment teams will be grateful after this is over and so will your current employees.
With everything that’s going on, it may be that right now, your spring-summer season campaign, or that wonderfully crafted hashtag you built a couple of months ago, is not the most relevant or even much of a priority in people’s minds. Brands will do well in staying grounded and humble. Once again, it’s a time to listen, open up, and embrace the current opportunities to be a force for good.
Use humor and ingenuity
Everyone benefits from a bit of lighthearted entertainment these days. Don’t forget to surprise and delight people! From having your CEO or top brand ambassador juggle toilet paper rolls, to sharing how to recycle your packaging into garden tools and dinosaur face masks, we’re all going to need this content now and for weeks to come. If you can, make your brand’s message the best thing in our newsfeeds this week—the funniest video, the best how-to, that we’ll share with our relatives and friends who we so much want to visit and hug.
Build meaningful connections
During this time of negative information overload, whether some of us are kept at home or have to be incredibly brave to go out there every day to maintain basic services, brands still have incredible amounts of access to people’s time. In fact, Facebook saw 70% more time spent across their apps in Italy since the COVID-19 crisis rocked their country—and Instagram and Facebook Live views doubled in a week. This time should be used to build meaningful relationships: activate your brand ambassadors and your loyal communities—and leverage the untapped creativity of the influencers you work with. I bet they’ll be delighted to keep busy, too.
Brands have the power and the responsibility to bring the outdoors into peoples' homes, to tell them heartwarming stories, to keep in touch, to not feel alone. When things were fine and good your fans gave you their time, foot traffic, money, and engagement. Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t go silent now?
We’re seeing incredible stories emerge. Companies switching production lines to build face masks and scrubs for healthcare workers, sports retailers helping hack scuba diving gear with incredible ingenuity to build respirators that are now saving lives in Northern Italy, beer brands producing hand sanitizer and giving it to local charities for the most vulnerable...
This is a time for bold moves, to give back and to contribute. At VidMob, we have made our collaborative workflow tools available for free to brands, agencies, and boutiques that may need them to manage their increasing work-from-home challenges. We are also helping the CDC Foundation create assets to promote the CDC/Facebook fundraiser. Facebook has offered to match up to $10M to help on the frontlines. All funds will go to fighting the outbreak—including sourcing medical supplies and increasing lab capacity.
Sure, not everyone is capable of manufacturing face masks or donating millions, but sometimes all it takes is a heartfelt post—a seemingly insignificant action—to change someone’s day for the better. It’s incredibly important and valuable for humanity as a whole. The marketeer’s role in this crisis is to rise up and keep telling stories, to keep bringing truthful, brave, honest, and heartfelt stories into our lives.
We promise we’ll love your brand for it.