Navigating Brand Messaging During Crisis

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the global economy. And, its impact on our daily routines has been equally challenging. But in many ways this pause to our normal lives has given marketers the opportunity to reevaluate their brand messaging

While our outdoor lives may be stifled, this time has been an impetus for many companies to reconnect with their core values. Businesses everywhere are now considering what they really want to represent to the world at large. Still, it can be tricky to identify what message your company should be sending. Don’t try to single handedly create world peace – reconnect with your brand purpose, and give your audience on-brand support.

Realigning Your Brand Messaging

With Nielsen reporting that staying in our homes can lead to at least a 60% increase in the amount of content we watch, social distancing has opened an opportunity for a new way of connecting with people. Plus, the massive uptick in the consumption of online content has provided marketing teams with a direct line of communication to their audiences. 

Every marketer loves brand exposure, but more eyes on your brand during a time of crisis can sometimes just feel like an added pressure. You might ask yourself, what is my brand supposed to be saying? Or, how can we make everyone happy?

When you find yourself asking these existential and unanswerable questions about your business, take it as a sign to pivot your brand communication strategy. Look to your existing online content – how has your media been reflecting your brand image? Is this still the message you want to send? 

There isn’t one right message to send, and it isn’t a brand’s job to respond to a global health crisis like a government official. But, you can translate your brand’s expertise to support your audiences during this time. 

Chances are, the COVID-19 pandemic shifted your perspective about what messages truly matter. Don’t let this discourage you; our collective reinvestment in the community of the internet opens doors to build relationships by leading with your brand purpose.

Translating Brand Purpose

Brands now have an opportunity to build important relationships with people by putting their efforts into a thoughtful digital presence. This doesn’t mean that you should be trying to elicit customers from online audiences. Rather, your brand should lead with meaningful, guiding resources for audiences to access during this period of uncertainty. Use the expertise within your own company, and these resources will naturally emerge. 

For example, for a media or video production company, success hinges on their ability to tell a story effectively. Their marketing, creative, and even corporate teams are tuned into their brand purpose of storytelling and building emotional connections. This overarching purpose boils down to the ability to communicate clearly.

In a time when communication has been our biggest challenge, it’s time for brands to step up to the plate by demonstrating their own brand purpose. If your brand’s purpose is to communicate clear and affecting stories, it’s time to translate that purpose into your messaging during this crisis. 

But remember: it’s not your job to be a health expert. If your messaging comes from your original brand purpose and reflects your core values, then your brand is already demonstrating leadership in your field. In this time, audiences want to see brands using their resources for good. It’s more important to use your existing capabilities for good than to try to occupy someone else’s niche. 

This YouTube compilation by user Microsoft Sam perfectly exemplifies what happens when brands try to address every problem at once.

“Every COVID-19 Commerical is Exactly the Same” by Microsoft Sam

The creator of this video proves how brands can throw away the opportunity to send an impactful message by trying to cover all of the bases. When your brand message is everyone else’s message, you’ve lost sight of your individual brand purpose.

Though these times are uncertain, the redundant messages we’ve come to expect from brands certainly are not.

Of course, people want a respectful acknowledgment of the current global health crisis, but they also want the consistency of what they’ve come to expect of your brand. Take what your brand has to offer, and apply that to one of the needs that people have right now. Maybe that’s mindless entertainment, or maybe it’s educational insight. Whatever it is, make sure it’s rooted in your core values.

How We Maintain Forward Progress

In this moment, brand messaging and audience growth are more connected than ever. Continuing to spread messages aligned with your core values will keep your brand on a trajectory toward closer relationships with real people. The conditions of this pandemic are forcing brands to hold themselves accountable. This is the ultimate test – how will your brand emerge as a leader in a true crisis?

Weathering this storm through honest and effective communication will humanize your brand, breaking down walls between big company names and individuals. Now, people need to know that your mission is, and has always been, aiming to serve their best interests. This is an opportunity for a turning point in your brand identity: support forward progress by being an ambassador for your own core values.

A New Online Education

With more time at home, take advantage of your online community. People everywhere are reconnecting with long-distance friends, learning that some meetings really could have been an email, and networking from the comfort of their own homes. This shift in internet culture has brought about a new type of online education that leverages personal and professional networks.

Webinars have emerged as an effective tool to maintain a vision of the future, all while bringing together leaders from every industry to tackle the unknown, together. These webinars don’t just replace cancelled events; they connect people with brand leaders that they might not have been able to connect with otherwise.

For example, Green Buzz Agency’s webinar series opened with a presentation on Earning Your Brand Purpose During Crisis, brought together Clay Broga from Stand Together, and Tara Wilson-Jones from Make-A-Wish. Both executives told their own stories of navigating brand messaging during the current crisis, offering participants an inside-look at the communication strategies behind two high-powered non-profits.

Earning Your Brand Purpose During Crisis | Green Buzz Agency

This is a time of growth for everyone. Take this as an opportunity to reflect and learn. Remember where your brand started at the most basic, human level. By reflecting on these core values, you’ll humanize your brand and provide people with the support they need. 

Emily Herman, Marketing and Communications.