Will we be speaking of pre- and post-corona marketing after the storm calms down? Does this health crisis force brands to reconsider what role they play in society? Does this mean purpose branding will be the new normal? The virus touches us all; in our hearts and our wallets. And yet, this is the time to invest in your brand. It will be a valuable investment in your brand’s future.
There are no ‘normal circumstances’
The usual response to reduced revenues is to cut the marketing budget. We are avid Mark Ritson and Binet & Field supporters and, under normal circumstances, would argue against having sales figures dictate tomorrow’s investments. There is ample proof that says investing in a brand will yield positive results in the long run, while excessive focus on short-term results may eventually prove fatal. Today’s world, however, is not one of normal circumstances. Today’s world is one of overpowering uncertainty, which turns business as we know it fully upside down.
Countless businesses have taken a nosedive while not knowing when things will level out again. It’s only natural that the health and safety of employees and clients takes priority, with short-term income a close second. In a knee-jerk reaction, carefully planned strategies are suddenly abandoned. Companies are restructured to stay afloat, while the focus on short-term results is, for now, all consuming. However, if yields are low, the tree might need more water; not less.
You reap in sales what you sow with marketing
Havas’ 2019 Meaningful Brands study indicates that millennials have twice as much confidence in brands than they do in governments when it comes to creating a better future. The proactive decisions of the Dutch government may tip the scales in its favour for the moment, but the Havas study highlights the strong impact brands have on the public. Perhaps even more so today.
The term purpose might have already earned its place in buzzword bingo, but it’s more relevant than ever. This is the time to prove what drives your business by contributing to society in a meaningful way. The scale of the gesture is not as important as its value to the receiver, as long as it is made from the heart. Any compassionate and empathetic act on your behalf is an investment people will long remember.
Numerous businesses have gotten on the creative bandwagon, launching a myriad of kind-hearted initiatives for the greater good. With the hospitality industry in lockdown, partners Bud and live-streaming platform The Cloud Rave are connecting artists and audiences in isolation. Fashion giant Zara is putting its production chain to good use by manufacturing hospital gowns and masks for medical personnel and coronavirus patients. Shoe company Crocs is donating its eponymous product to healthcare workers. But it’s not just large corporations who are stepping up; small businesses are doing their part for those in need.
In the short time since the coronavirus has entered our lives, branding itself got rebranded. We wouldn’t be surprised If pre-coronavirus marketing becomes an actual term. The constant search for ways to enrich the lives of our target audiences has not changed; only the parameters have shrunk to living room and bedroom dimensions. New target audiences are also identified, by linking brand purpose to the immediately fulfillable needs of these groups. People’s needs have changed dramatically; from the top of Maslow’s hierarchy to the bottom.
It goes without saying that brands are not losing sight of their most important supporters in times of crisis. We wouldn’t want fans to forget about their favourite brands either. Still, keep your mind on the long-term impact of your purpose. Find out what type of positive contributing from your brand is relevant, and realistic. For as far as we are concerned, purpose branding will be the new post-coronavirus normal with communication centering even more on meaning. Hopefully more meaningful actions than words.