The COVID-19 era has uncovered a multitude of lessons that have been formerly overlooked regarding brand marketing. These times of uncertainty have forced marketers and brands to reconsider the way they market their product or service. More interestingly, non-essential brands have shifted their marketing to meet the current environment through content that is not clearly related to their product.
The way these branding campaigns have adapted to the world surrounding them has unearthed what we as brands fail to do during quieter times, which should be at the forefront of all of our brand marketing efforts. What can we learn from the pandemic about brand marketing? Here are the integral elements all brand marketing strategies should be built upon.
Stay true to your customer’s need
It’s not what you want the customer to want, it’s what they naturally need. Knowing and understanding your customers’ needs has been an underlying but ever-present lesson for many companies facing the COVID-19 era. These wavering times have uncovered that at the center of every successful brand marketing campaign is the customer need, an invaluable focus that cannot be substituted.
Ceros, a cloud-based platform upon which designers create animated, interactive content without the need for developers, has recently shifted their brand marketing strategy to align with our current climate by creating a Netflix and Disney movie recommendation generator to help their audience spend time safely at home.
This not only promotes social-distancing (which is already great!) but fills a true need. There might be people out there who currently need a platform to create an animated video, but today, the vast majority can better relate to the need for home entertainment. Although seemingly small, a Netflix movie recommendation generator is a helpful tool that, in these uncertain times, alleviates some of the stress society is experiencing. Plus, the brand doesn’t miss a beat and takes the time to reinforce the CDC’s recommendation to stay at home, demonstrating their genuine wish for their audience to stay healthy and showing their desire to fight COVID-19.
What can we learn from Ceros? Ceros does a great job of highlighting a pain point and instantly fixing it for their customers all in one go and all while staying relevant to the times by having their customer’s needs at the forefront of their branding. How can you pinpoint your own customers’ needs? Try these out:
- Examine existing buyer persona data and map out your customer’s process
- Consider who your customer is outside of your brand-consumer relationship
- Create places for your customers to speak freely, and listen carefully
Be emotionally cognizant
Emotional attunement can transform your customer relationships for the better. To be receptive to your audience’s emotions, sensibilities, and moods is to be fully engaged and present throughout their journey as much more than a company. Your brand should function as a mirror, ultimately reflecting your customer’s emotions back to them while relating and sympathizing with their circumstances.
This approach towards brand marketing also highlights the importance of relating to your audience by showing your emotional awareness about the world surrounding the both of you. The pandemic has brought about a horde of brand messaging encompassing the topic, showing us instances in which it’s done very well, and some that lack the awareness we are speaking of. Denny’s, for example, has done a spectacular job of keeping their branding emotionally cognizant to their customers.
Their branding takes a turn for the more serious with this recent tweet, using full sentences and a heartfelt tone. They do not ignore that their branding changed drastically from their more funny and casual one either, and clearly state that they normally would be trying to make their followers laugh.
While conversational tones from brands are commonly seen online, there is a time and place for everything. The pandemic has reminded us that being receptive to your audience’s emotions and the world around them is a needed part of the branding process for all of your campaigns – from a tweet to a product launch. And more importantly, to genuinely relate to their circumstance.
Strive for accuracy
Your brand messaging should always be established upon accuracy and consistency. A vital yet overlooked aspect of branding is copywriting. Your copywriting standards should be stellar – today and in the future. As a brand, you are constantly supplying information to your customers, and hopefully, adding value to their lives. You should use credible sources, maintain proper grammar, and review statistics. All of this to maintain your customer’s trust.
Canva, a design software that makes design simple, has recently fought the inaccurate information floating around regarding the coronavirus by creating and offering a range of free print and social media templates using information from the World Health Organization.
Here, not only does Canva demonstrate emotional cognizance, but also a contribution mentality while sharing accurate information. Incorrect information is everywhere nowadays. Being extra careful with the branding you put out should not be an extra step, but a necessary aspect of your creation process.
Adapt your message to the circumstance
Review, modify, and re-write your messaging at all times. Brands who have reshaped their digital marketing campaigns to sympathize with COVID-19 sensibilities are a clear example that all brand-identity facing assets should be re-visited and closely monitored. Times and plans change, you can never be fully prepared for the future, and Disney + showed the world that they are excellently malleable, changing with the times and with their customer’s needs.
Not only did the popular streaming service adapt their messaging for their launch of Frozen 2, but they also completely moved their launch date for an earlier time frame, giving their customers a chance to watch when they most needed it.
“Frozen 2 has captivated audiences around the world through its powerful themes of perseverance and the importance of family, messages that are incredibly relevant during this time, and we are pleased to be able to share this heartwarming story early with our Disney+ subscribers to enjoy at home on any device.” – Disney CEO, Bob Chapek
Things are changing fast, so keeping your branding as versatile as it can be and modifying accordingly is the best strategy – always. Disney’s own versatility shows that even huge launches can still be revised and reworked to your customer’s circumstances.
Contribute to your community
Remember, contribution above conversion. Your audience is able to recognize when your campaigns are self-serving and profit-seeking. Due to current events, you’ve probably seen this more often than not. A brand is trying to sell their service or product, confusing the topical circumstance we are currently in for a business opportunity. A brand should not reflect these sentiments to their customers. Most of your branding materials should seek to contribute to your community, building your brand’s relevance and trustworthiness through a genuine want to help. Vans is a great example of contribution above conversion. Take a look at this email from the shoe brand:
Vans does not try and sell their products, rather, they focus their efforts on showing their customers that they are present and want to help. And they make good on their promise by actually launching “Foot The Bill,” which is focused on supporting small businesses who are feeling the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Continuing to offer value to your audience is vital during these times. With businesses barely being able to stay afloat, focusing on conversion is the wrong move that can potentially paint your brand in a bad light. The pandemic has taught us that contribution equals a strong brand presence. Servicing the customer without asking anything in return, ultimately shows your value as a company to the world around you.
As brands and digital marketers, the COVID-19 outbreak has affected all aspects of our lives, including the way we brand ourselves and our campaigns. However, it has also brought these vital elements to the forefront of everything we do as a reminder to be more than a company, but a fellow human being with emotions, morals, and a desire to help those around us.