Building a brand during times of crises

By Founder of Innocomm Jacqueline Boulos Mayer

In today’s highly challenging times, organisations across the board are searching for ways to streamline business operations, lower costs, and effectively do more with a lot less. Many companies are looking to cut cost in order to survive, and too often, marketing and brand awareness are the casualties.

“However, this isn’t advisable. Marketing during times of crisis, helps brands re-evaluate how they can service their customers as well as find innovative ways to keep their doors open,” says Jacqueline Boulos Mayer, managing director at public relations and marketing specialists, Innocomm.

According to her, this is the time for brands to stand out, to make themselves more memorable and build loyalty through small, human-centric engagements. “How you interact with your customers now, will set the tone of your relationship with them for years to come.”

In fact, she says the research speaks for itself, and has consistently revealed that brands that maintain marketing efforts during times of crisis actually grow their sales and market share. “On the flip side, cutting spend has a lasting, and negative impact on brands, who find themselves losing market share, even once the crisis has passed and things go back to normal.”

Mayer advises brands to think in the long-term. “During challenging times many brands reduce their brand building efforts and instead, channel efforts towards driving short-term sales. “However, this isn’t an appropriate response, as difficult times mean that brands should be focus on building themselves in the long term, as this investment is what will drive and support recovery.”

It is human nature to remember brands for their acts of generosity and positivity during times of crisis, she says. “Brands need to evaluate their current projects and adjust them to see how they can be used in positive ways to uplift their communities, not simply for profit.”

Mayer says behavioural economics have illustrated that framing is often more critical than messaging itself. “No one is suggesting that brands should change their messaging or identity, but rather reframe them, to reflect their fundamental position within the context of the reality in which they find themselves. Crises, as tragic as they are, often give brands the ideal opportunity to showcase their purpose and values.”

She advises brands to dig deep and find ways to reach heart of what their audience is experiencing at the moment. “This does in any way imply that brands should exploit the situation, but rather find ways where they can add value, and help your audience during times of crisis. Any brand considering embarking on a PR initiative, needs to be aware that false altruism will certainly backfire and send the message that it is trying to capitalise from a crisis. Be genuine in both messaging and actions. Don’t try to profit – try to help.”

Our current COVID-19 crisis is no different, and is presenting opportunities for brands to innovate, adapt and help people around the world.

The bottom line is that now is not the time to do nothing, or to panic, or wait around nervously to see what your competitors are up to, she stresses. “Marketing in the time of COVID-19, or during any crisis for that matter, calls for brands to assess how they can service their customers as well as keep their businesses afloat.”

As Seth Godin once said, “We’ve greatly exaggerated the risk of sinking, without celebrating the value of swimming.”  

About Innocomm

Innocomm provides integrated communications services across traditional media, social media and direct channels in Africa and Europe. We have strong content generation skills and a broad network of media and influencer relationships. We work with local partners to provide the best possible communications solutions in the corporate, business and sport sectors. Visit www.innocomm.co.za for more information.

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