The COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly causing challenges for companies around the world. If you have a small business or startup in a growth phase, there’s no reason to automatically assume that the public health situation will stifle your company’s success. Apply these 7 best ways to brand your business while remaining sensitive to and aware of this rapidly evolving scenario.
1. Offer Helpful, Relevant Content
A well-developed content strategy can be a substantial part of your branding efforts. That was true before the pandemic, and it remains so now. The main thing you want to convey with your content is that the company is a reliable and consistent source of high-quality material for the current times.
Maybe your company sells gardening products. In that case, you could create a blog that suggests how people can improve or start their gardens as they spend more time at home. You might even cater to beginners and release short videos that aim to remove some of the uncertainty they may feel while trying to develop their green thumbs.
2. Highlight How Your Company Gives Back or Shows Appreciation
Maintaining a strong brand during the pandemic likely means tweaking your messaging to show empathy and understanding. Statistics indicate that most people don’t mind getting marketing messages from brands now. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should take the same approaches as you did before this global health crisis hit.
Consumers may decide you’re tone-deaf if your marketing messages focus too much on making profits. Since so many people have lost their jobs or are facing that risk now, they may resent heavy sales pitches. You can pivot by running branding campaigns that recognize the hard-working essential workers who did not have the option to work at home. Alternatively, focus on how your company helps others through things like donations and awareness-raising efforts.
3. Have a Solution-Oriented Mindset
We’re in a time now where many people are dealing with challenges that never crossed their minds in the pre-pandemic times. Look for ways to present your business as the solution that people need. Show that you can solve their problems now and that you’re well-equipped to stay relevant after the hard times pass. Boost your brand by conveying that you’re there to give the desired support.
For example, your branding approach can emphasize what solutions your company provides for what’s happening now. You should also investigate how to put your company in a position to meet people’s long-term needs. Many people think primarily about their day-to-day needs now. That’s okay and expected. However, you want them to conclude that your business continues to address their post-pandemic issues, too.
4. Show Transparency to Your Customers
Now is the ideal time to be as straightforward as possible with your target audience. Let consumers know precisely what you’re doing to keep them and your workers as safe as possible. Otherwise, they may interpret silence to mean you aren’t doing anything. If you have a physical store, explain the new precautions on your website or in an email so that people know what to expect before they arrive.
Be honest if some of your new practices may mean delivery delays, products out of stock or slower service. Mention what you’re doing to avoid those outcomes, but set accurate expectations. Clarify and keep reiterating that keeping people safe is your utmost priority. Stating that and backing it up with actions will demonstrate to others that you’re a responsible brand worth their business.
5. Set a Good Example and Simultaneously Spark Brand Recognition
If you have a customer-facing business, items like your bags, receipts and signage probably already support your brand. You can go further by getting custom-made face masks for your team and having the employees wear them while in public. Companies can meet your design requests by letting you specify the image or logo on the front. You can even pick the mask’s background and strap color to match your brand.
This tip makes it easier for people to remember your brand later because they’ll naturally see it when shopping. Another advantage is that it shows that your company takes safety seriously. Wearing a mask still feels strange to many people. However, when they see your team doing it, they’ll be more likely to follow suit.
6. Adjust Your Visual and Text-Based Branding to Support the New Normal
The pandemic may have made the pictures and phrases associated with your brand become out of touch with the current circumstances. For example, maybe your website has photos of friends embracing or language suggesting that people “gather their loved ones together” when those activities may go against public health advice. Act responsibly with your marketing decisions during the pandemic by making small, meaningful changes.
Keeping things as they are may not cause outright offense. However, you risk making people feel sad as they think about how things were before the pandemic. Another possibility that you want to avoid is people deciding the pictures and text for your materials makes your company seem irrelevant. Consider getting input from several team members about how to alter things while keeping your branding positive.
7. Offer More Flexibility When Possible
It’s an ideal time to show customers and team members that you’re willing to accommodate them. Having that kind of supportive mindset also strengthens your brand by showcasing empathy. You can provide flexibility to workers by giving them the option to work from home or come into the office at different hours so that they can take care of kids who can’t attend schools or daytime care facilities now.
Flexibility extends to customers, too. If your company offers subscriptions and typically encourages people to sign up for a year at a time, consider changing your approach to focus on free trials or three-month plans. Explore other options to appeal to people, too. You might extend your timeframe for refunds or begin offering home deliveries for the first time. Ponder how you can make things as convenient as possible, and trust that approach to help your brand.
Adapt to These Times
Successful startups and business owners have always had to respond to unforeseen changes. The main difference now with the pandemic is that people around the world are all dealing with it at the same time — albeit to different degrees.
Although you may initially think of the coronavirus as a marketed disadvantage, don’t overlook how it could present opportunities. Exploring how to tap into them and build your brand with the techniques here and others could help you make impressive gains.
Lexie Lu is a web designer and UX content strategist. She enjoys covering topics related to UX design, web design, social media and branding. Feel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast.