COVID-19 Learnings #2: From words to actions, how brands can actually help?
COVID-19 represents a humanitarian challenge. Nations, economies, companies, and sanity are being tested. But brands have the power to help people through this crisis. We asked AMIN members how they could do it. You can see below all the inspiring responses.
1. Marc van Bakel, Campagne (The Netherlands)
At Campagne, we help customers through this crisis by looking forward and making recommendations and preparations for their business after the crisis. We keep contact with them every day.
We are using this time to focus on their business proposition, their online presence, their business model and possible changes their organization can make.
We are looking for opportunities for customers. One example: Truck Drivers are unsung heroes. They continue to deliver our groceries day in and day out. Keeping the shelves full.
We recommended: broadcasting a big thanks to those heroes, acknowledging our pride in them! As a result: an out-of-home campaign with huge billboards.
2. Benji Borg, Anchovy (Malta)
Brands have reach. Reach equals influence. Brands need to leverage their influence by pushing the right message to all their customers to help stop the spread of COVID-19. They have a responsibility to all their customers and to the world. It’s in times like these that brands need to stop, think and put people before the bottom line. Yes, businesses need to think of costs and profits, but above all, people, as human beings come first.
For example, at Anchovy. helped launch a helpline for a local cleaning company that we work with. They are offering their clients free advice on how to disinfect their homes.
3. Nicky Smith, Thinking Juice (England)
This will be a make-or-break moment for many brands. Not only will consumers remember those cashing in on the crisis, but they’ll also see straight through anyone adding to the noise and joining the conversation without a credible reason.
People’s health, livelihoods and wellbeing is being impacted all over the world – and everyone expects better. But, if brands are willing and able to rise to the occasion, now’s the time to put their purpose into action.
Claims of being humanistic, compassionate and authentic can actually be realised and proven during this exceptional time. If you’re unable to contribute financially with your own products, respond with thoughtful initiatives or encourage action, or use your expertise, resources, facilities or platform to share information.
Make good on that promise, show what you stand for, and how far you’re willing to go to support both your customers and the local and global community… as long as it really adds value, and is totally authentic. Otherwise, stay out of it.
4. Abbey Dethlefs, Peter Mayer (USA)
Maya Angelou once said, “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” And in this COVID climate, it’s no longer about what you want to say or sell, it’s about what your consumers need to hear and feel. Which means delivering on your brand purpose starts with listening. It’s the critical first step in having a true understanding of how your brand can be of service at this time and what that role can be in peoples’ lives. It shines a light on what they are facing, what they need and how you can provide empathetic solutions that create positive impact. Ultimately, your purpose can help ensure you’re communicating in ways that show you care, but also show the world why you exist. So the question for each of us to answer is – how do you want your brand to be remembered?
5. Sylvia Schutte, Stratitude (South Africa)
At Stratitude, we are helping our clients stay relevant by providing some simple branding solutions.
One example is the “News bulletin”. During the lockdown period, businesses are not only concerned about staying relevant and top of mind with their clients but also have the added pressure of keeping their employees motivated and protecting their company culture. To ensure that employees and clients are kept up to date on your Corona initiatives and any possible business delivery impacts, business updates or news, we have developed a one-page News Bulletin template that can be emailed to a client or employee database.
6. Rhen Wilson, Stone Ward (USA)
Much has been written about how brands are responding to the health care crisis around COVID-19. While health care will continue to be a major concern, brands have an opportunity to focus their efforts on two other hardships facing families and individuals: income and education. We all are collectively experiencing these hardships personally—one way or another. Therefore, to ensure we all come out of this situation whole (or as close to whole as possible), brands have an opportunity to step up to the plate like never before. After years of platitudes and lofty positioning statements, smart brands will finally put their money where their mouth is.
To help prevent long-term income loss, large corporations have the ability to keep people on the payroll by temporarily reducing or eliminating the salaries of the C-suite and other senior management. Palo Alto Networks CEO Nikesh Arora, for one, vowed to give up his salary in order to prevent layoffs. Arora and executives like him believe it’s intolerable to have a country of unemployed workers struggling to make ends meet while top-level managers thrive as they shut down factories, shops, and offices across the country.
Furthermore, our school children are struggling to get an education as many do not have the means to attend virtual classrooms due to a lack of computers or internet access. Washington-based technology firms Avanade and InterConnection have taken the charge by donating computers to low-income families. Other corporations have the opportunity to contribute hardware, but access to high-speed internet is also a necessity. The country and the economy will suffer long-term effects from students who cannot maintain their studies during this crisis. Brands must use their resources to ensure our children are not forgotten.
For brands looking to get involved and make a difference, the bottom line is not a goal to cross. Immediate success and shareholder value cannot be the driving force behind these initiatives. The well-being of the people is the only metric worth considering. For the brands who take the mantel, the people will remember, and the brand equity gained will be invaluable.
7. Dustin Thompson, CVR (USA)
At CVR we are about Building Brands that Matter and now it is more important than ever for us to prove it. The brands we represent have thousands of people behind them, each with their own story. So can we, or anyone else, actually make a difference in their lives right now? Yes, all of us can by donating our computing power to scientists!
Folding@home provides everyone the opportunity to be citizen scientists. This distributed computing project simulates protein folding on your computer that can be used to help scientists better understand biology. At CVR, we have a few of our computers contributing already! Help us fight these diseases and start folding with your computers today.
8. Filipe Macedo, comOn (Portugal)
Since 2017, Who Cares project’s mission is to increase empathy with users and reduce distance between marketers. For this reason, and at least as long as the pandemic lasts, Who Cares will be a digital space for sharing knowledge and examples of adaptation to the new normality.
ComOn is promoting weekly video calls where managers and marketers privately discuss the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses, brands and teams. This week’s theme is Brand Purpose and we were able to see the power of brands to help people through this crisis.
9. James Rector, Stone Ward (USA)
Two words: Adapt Everyday. Now more than ever brands are feeling the stress, but it’s the perfect time to take advantage of crafting messaging and campaigns that can pivot. Make it clear how your product or service can benefit consumers during this time of uncertainty and be adaptable to the ways that this is conveyed to the audience. Stand out from the crowd and highlight your service or product’s strengths and value. Safety precautions and empathy only go so far. Evaluate the cost-effectiveness and creativity of how your goods and services are being provided to consumers i.e. eCommerce, shoppable posts, delivery etc. Above all, monitor your audience closely and adjust. The best example of this is remote working. Only a few short weeks ago a completely remote staff was not even fathomable, but now you are working with new processes and technologies. You adapted. Your consumers are too – remember that.