How to brand in a crisis

How to brand in a crisis

There’s been some understandable debate recently on whether it’s ethical to be selling in a time of global crisis.

On the one hand, people are anxious and distracted. Many need care, emotionally or physically. Any focus on economics seems almost mercenary.

Alternatively, people need money. Jobs are vanishing, companies are closing. Businesses need support if they are to weather the storm.

What’s the answer? How do we find the win-win in what seems a lose-lose scenario?

For many brands, the answer lies in core brand attributes. If brand values are genuine, then the accompanying attributes should speak to the true benefits to the customer.

A brand I worked with recently holds several important attributes among others in its brand framework that resonate at this time: accessible, caring, and responsive. A renewed focus on how it can best deliver these attributes to its customers will not only bring much-needed help where it matters, it will also deepen customer appreciation for what the brand stands for. It will be truly “walking its talk”.

What brand attributes can your brand bring to the fore right now? What mechanisms do you have or can you put in place to deliver them?

Brands don’t have to sell, to sell

Brands don’t have to sell, to sell

Something the current crisis is revealing is the opportunities brands have to demonstrate their commitment to their purpose and their communities.

Leaders who understand this are in some cases entirely pivoting their business to supply much-needed resources such as hand sanitizer and masks. Others are offering deep discounts or even free access to their products to help people adapt to the rapidly changing circumstances of their lives. Many are simply helping with advice in their areas of expertise, such as working from home tips, remote conferencing and the like.

These are the brands that will be remembered. Brands attempting to capitalize on the situation are being called out publicly for their shameful behaviour. Loyalty is earned through dedicated service in tough times, not by cheap efforts to sell based on people’s fear and anxiety.

Taking your brand online

Taking your brand online

Many brands are scrambling right now to deal with physical restrictions and fast-dwindling customers and revenue. One possible direction might be to investigate pivoting to online branding, either selling directly online or looking for new online revenue streams.

Here are some thoughts on how to optimize your brand for an online environment:

Fish where the fish are: if you’re new to the world of online business, it can seem overwhelming at first. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc, etc, etc, all crying for attention and generating a huge information overload. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and paralyzed. So keep it simple – what is the primary channel your best customers hang out in? Facebook? Great, focus your resources on building presence there. You can always expand later.

Build a funnel: although a full-blown website might not be necessary immediately, a funnel that will convert your leads to customers is. It doesn’t have to be complicated – say, a Facebook ad that drives traffic to your landing page and offer/email signup. You’ll need the tech to enable it though, so see my next point!

Don’t try to do everything: online branding and marketing can have many components that need to work together to be successful, and few people can handle all of them well. Remember to focus on what you do best, and bring in help for the areas you need it. This will save valuable time which is crucial in the online environment, save you considerable headache and frustration, and allow you to help other small businesses who are also facing tough times.

Decide on your Paid/Organic mix: Paid advertising can be a fastrack to new business online. Brands with clearly defined target audiences (that’s you, right?) can optimize their ad spend and drive significant traffic to their offer. Organic marketing (no ad spend, but more time investment) can be very successful for the right business, but takes a greater time investment. For most businesses, a mix of the two may be the best approach initially until data is available to indicate the more profitable path.

It’s still about human connection: despite the technology, establishing and building relationships with your customers is key to online communication. In fact, it’s more important to connect with customers’ emotions in the digital environment. Whatever your primary emotional connectors were previously, now is the time to ramp them up.

No matter what your brand offer, if you can market it online these tactics can help you get there more successfully. Consistency is key, both to your brand messaging, and your online marketing efforts.

In Search of Lost Time

In Search of Lost Time

Over 100 years ago, Marcel Proust wrote a defining novel that shook his society to the core.

In many generations there comes a happening of such an unprecedented impact that everyone is forced to take notice.

This could be considered an accident of time, or simply a coincidence of chaos, if you choose that approach.

Others can see these times as intrinsically linked with, and a result of, human behaviour.

But one thing is for certain – we are all being forced to live our lives one-day-at-time.

In an environment where even the best advisors are scrambling for answers, our intellectual limitations are becoming more and more evident.

Society today is unused to and distrustful of anything that is not driven by hard data and evidence-based science.

Today, we plainly see the discord between our systems and the natural world. The smallest virus has our world entirely at its knees. And, perhaps, we are given an opportunity to finally see the world as it is, today, right now. Without any possible influence of stock markets, social influencer opinions, and even the all-pervasive media.

Today, we all face the immediate, and demanding, present. And in that, only what we DO now is counted toward our future growth.

Let’s hope we are found worthy of our customers’ trust in us. Because now, there is no faking it.

Experienced Integrity

Experienced Integrity

I’ve shared this elsewhere, but it’s important – is there a brand out there that isn’t linked to integrity in some way? Now is the opportunity to showcase that attribute.

When the chips are down (as they certainly are), brands that respond with congruity when and where it counts will be remembered. And those actions will pay off.

Many brands ignore the strongest point of influence on their market… the buyers’ experience.

Winning brands pay keen attention to their current customers, while fly-by-nights often short-change that loyalty by focussing on the Next Big Thing.

Make sure your brand is recognized for its most important characteristic, attention to your customers, not through your marketing, but from the most visible and genuine evidence.

Brands are successful because of their authenticity and trustfulness. Make use of these times to prove your value to the people who matter most. That’s what will be remembered.

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