How to market your brand in times of crisis

At the start of 2020 the fashion industry was full of promise with a new season on its way. Luxury brands had photographed their SS20 campaigns in the last half of 2019 and long planned their marketing calendar and activations throughout spring and summer. Then came Covid-19.

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As buying and sentiment dramatically changed overnight, social isolation has altered the consumer mode from acquisition to protection, highlighting a global shift in behavioural trends.

Marketing in the time of coronavirus, or any crisis, calls for brands to assess how they can service their customers as much as keep their businesses afloat. The Harvard Review suggests to “begin with empathy and transparency, where the nuances of a brand voice are more delicate than ever. Brands that use this time to be commercially exploitative will not fare well.”

Use media in more agile ways

“To quickly pivot creative messages as circumstances change, marketers will want to build more rapid-response operating models internally and with agencies. Access to remote production and creative capacity will become particularly important as the crisis evolves. Nike, for example, immediately moved to adopt a new message: ‘Play inside, play for the world.’”

Associate your brand with good

“People will remember brands for their acts of good in a time of crisis, particularly if done with true heart and generosity. This could take the form of producing medical supplies like LVMH producing hand sanitiser or continuing to pay employees while the company’s doors are closed, like Chanel and Hermes. Feel-good content that alleviates anxiety and promotes positive messaging will go a long way to enhancing the brand. However, companies need to show that their contributions are material and not solely for commercial benefit.”

Track trends and build scenarios

“Frequent tracking of human behavioral trends will help marketers gain better insights in real time. Marketers will want to measure sentiment and consumption trends on a regular basis to better adapt messaging, closely observing the conversation across social-media platforms, community sites, and e-commerce product pages to look for opportunities and identify looming crises more quickly.

How we can plan for the next and the beyond

“We are in the acknowledge-and-adapt phase of the Covid-19 pandemic. But we also have to plan for life beyond the crisis. Marketing leaders must work externally to keep their brands and customer journeys as whole as possible, while working internally to do three things:

  1. Understand the impact of business interruption and continue to triage the unexpected.
  2. Lean into digital ways of working and connecting with customers, knowing that this will likely have lasting effects.
  3. Mitigate risks to the customer experience by thinking realistically from the outside-in.”

“Brands are all having to think, operate, and lead in new ways during these uncertain and unprecedented circumstances, and we will all have to learn together with both confidence and humility.”

Article source: Harvard Business Review: “Brand Marketing Through the Coronavirus Crisis.” Image: Courtesy of CSD and Damur

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