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Branding in the time of Covid-19

COVID-19 and branding

How is the current COVID-19 pandemic affecting the world of brand marketing and communications? Here are our top 3 ideas to address from a branding perspective.

by Cristina Vicedo, Director General of FutureBrand Spain.

 


 

The title sounds like something from a Gabriel García Márquez novel. Because this is how we all feel as we face this serious health situation that’s gripping the world. It’s as if we were reading a novel or were the main characters in a movie.

Unfortunately it’s real—a reality that we must all fight against, and protect and care for each other, to keep under control. At the same time, life has to go on, and those who can continue must make the most of these moments of confinement and remote working to get on with not only our daily work, and prepare for when everything returns to normal.

That’s why I want to share some thoughts with you which, from a branding point of view, we should consider or address right now. I’d encourage you to do so promptly, and involve all those within your organization who can help you with this task.

1. RECONSIDER YOUR BRAND VALUES. WHAT IS YOUR BRAND STRATEGY? HOW WILL IT BE AFFECTED AFTER COVID-19?

These are good times to revisit and examine the defined value for your brand. Especially if we bear in mind that we’re faced with new circumstances that highlight what’s truly important to each of us as consumers. This will cause a major shift in our priorities and therefore our attitude as consumers.

Give yourself time to think with your teams. Try to think about and answer the questions I ask below, which can help you add greater value to your brand strategy:

  • Do we have a clear view of who we are as a brand, and who we want to be in the future?
  • Can we use our brand proposition to build a story that makes us different from others?
  • Is it credible because it reflects who we are?
  • Is it relevant to our stakeholders?
  • Are our customers concerned about the quality of our product, or are they more interested in the good it can do for us and our environment?

Use the methodology that most suits you, whether it’s through a virtual “brainstorming” or anonymously, with each individual free to express their own thoughts. Based on the questions above, what improvements or changes could each person make in their role to produce a brand proposition that is solid, credible, relevant and different?

2. MAKE A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF EACH OF THE POINTS OF CONTACT YOUR BRAND HAS WITH EACH OF YOUR STAKEHOLDERS

I’m sure that you’ve done this in the past, and always have it in mind for your marketing campaigns and commercials. But I’ll also ask that when making the list you bear in mind and analyze two things:

  • The consistency of brand messages issued at each point of contact. Sometimes, for a greater impact or higher visibility, we build more attractive brand messages which are not always consistent with our brand strategy.
    It’s very important to know “who we are as a brand, and above all who we want to be” to create messages that build toward this aim, and increase the value of our branding. A good example is Verti, the insurance company. Regardless of the medium it uses to communicate with its stakeholders, it always respects the essence of its brand: to be a company born in the digital age that wants to provide its customers with truthful answers.
  • The consistency of brand implementation, meaning you apply your brand identity equally in any environment, whether a website, banner, advertisement, sign, etc. It should always feature the same colors, typography and brand elements, which were defined during its creation and set out in its identity manual.
    An example of a brand that’s perfectly implemented at every point of contact is Nespresso. It doesn’t matter if it’s a coffee capsule, a commercial banner or a store, the identity should always be the same. Its graphic language needs to be easily recognizable, at any point of contact, whatever the language or country or format.

3. CONSIDER THAT THE BEST EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT FROM CLIENTS OR CONSUMERS IS GENERATED THROUGH REAL AND AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCES

This is perhaps the most difficult to implement in practice, and can often require the highest budget.  While the two points above can be undertaken internally and with your teams, it’s always advisable to bring in a third party, as their vision is more complete and neutral.

Generating experiences often happens through listening and paying attention to our stakeholders. This means knowing what they want, what worries them, what interests them, what they need now—or even anticipating future needs.
A good example is what is happening with the Coronavirus. Many private-sector brands have reacted immediately by responding to the needs of a society that is facing a new way of life with remote working, no freedom of movement and with illness or even death close at hand. These brands have demonstrated they know how to respond and continue offering what they always offer: TelefónicaIKEAInditexIberdrolaDiageoArehucasEl Corte Inglés and many others.

I encourage you to make the most of this time of uncertainty to stop and think, have a look at what you’ve done in the last year with your branding, and go over these three points. I am convinced that once we get through this situation, as we surely will, you’ll come out of it out stronger, and with a much clearer and better-defined way forward for your brand.