We are living in unprecedented times.
Information about how the government expects us all to behave is changing on a daily basis. How we respond to this dire situation will define us as people, businesses and brands.
True to our People First philosophy, our approach to any challenge starts with understanding people.
People are feeling anxious, worried, panicked, scared.
Schools and workplaces have closed, we are being asked to self isolate, the worst is to come.
Over the coming months people will feel disconnected and isolated.
Especially the elderly, those that live alone and those that have suffered most financially.
As the crisis continues these feelings will grow.
Aside from physical and mental health, there are economic concerns for people: Will they be able to pay rent? Will they be able to feed their families? Will they have a job to go back to when all this is over? From a business perspective these feelings are universal for leaders, managers and their staff.
This emotional context is important when thinking about how businesses and brands respond to the coronavirus.
For companies, how they look after their people is of paramount importance. Being honest and transparent with their employees about the situation. Reassuring them that the priority is to keep their jobs and the company going. Fostering a culture of ‘being in this together’. Providing the technology to ensure that employees stay connected and able to do their jobs remotely where possible.
Without a united, motivated and committed workforce it will be difficult for any business to weather this storm.
For brands, although the situation we are in is unique, the fundamental strategic question is the same as it has always been:
How can your brand be of most value to people?
In fact, the current situation amplifies the relevance of this question.
Start by asking yourself:
How can [your brand name] be of most value to [your target audience] during the current crisis.
Marketing efforts should directly address the needs of their customers and society at large. The most valuable of these efforts will be actions not words. What brands do will be more important than what they say.
We are already seeing examples of this altruistic behaviour in action:
Perfume manufacturer LVMH is using its production lines to make hand sanitisers. Brewdog are doing the same in the UK. Banks are offering mortgage payment holidays to their customers.
These initiatives do not need to be complicated. Every contribution helps. For many companies the biggest and most important contribution will simply be the continued supply and distribution of their products to those most in need.
Although it’s currently difficult to imagine, normality will eventually return and when it does, the way brands have acted during Coronavirus will almost certainly affect the way they are perceived afterwards.
It’s our responsibility to see our people right, through the crisis, and out the other side.