How to Brand a Business Amidst a Global Pandemic

Contributed by Lexie Lu

With all the worries a pandemic brings about survival and essential needs, branding a business is a tricky course to navigate. You have to be mindful of people’s fears and not look too self-serving. The brands stepping up to fill the gap and make masks, sanitizers and other essentials build goodwill now in the hopes of creating loyal fans in the future.

It’s hard to say how deep the economic damage from COVID-19 might go, but all signs point to a recession. Statista estimates most major economies in the world will see a 2.4% reduction in GDP through the rest of 2020. Whether you’re facing challenges from coronavirus shutdowns or some future event, there are several steps you can take to ensure you’re still reaching your audience.

Become a Point of Hope

There is enough doom and gloom to go around. The news is much more likely to report negative than positive stories. People might feel scared, worried about loved ones and uncertain about whether their jobs will return when the pandemic passes.

Be a point of hope in the midst of madness and create the best customer experience (CX) possible. Figure out what your customers care about and work to deliver customer satisfaction every time. Invest in customer relationship management (CRM) software so not a single client gets overlooked.

Promote Your Storefront

During a pandemic, many types of businesses close to avoid the spread of the illness. People might forget their old favorites as they focus more on items helping them survive shortages of things such as toilet paper and food. Once things begin reopening, you’ll want them to recall how much they love shopping there. One way to do this is through bright, eye-catching signs drawing visitors to your shop.

Some ways you might use signage include indicating your grand reopening date, promoting specific bargains or letting people know about temporary changes in hours of operation. Banners and flags bring in foot traffic and help you get those orders you typically wouldn’t during hard economic times.

Embrace Social Sizzle

Social media advertising offers many advantages during a pandemic. It is one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising and allows you to reach a particular audience segment. You can change the ad as you go if something isn’t attracting the attention you’d like. To grab attention, create short video segments sending viewers to a landing page.

Forbes reports internet usage went up 70% after many state governors ordered people to stay home. Pandemics often come with self-isolation and even stay-at-home orders. Take advantage of the extra attention by getting your social media marketing campaign in place.

Change Your Message

While it’s essential to continue advertising even during a pandemic, the message you send out should be different. If you continue with the same ads as before, people may see you as insensitive to the issues they’re dealing with. You’ve likely noticed the ads from companies letting people know we’re all in this together or messages about how they are working on getting you what you need during this time.

Care About Your Employees

Your workers are just as scared as everyone else. Hold meetings and figure out the best way forward. For essential businesses, such as grocery stores, this might mean providing them with protective equipment, cleaning more frequently and installing plexiglass shields at registers. Office workers should have an option to work remotely for the foreseeable future.

Part of your brand image includes how well you treat your employees. Each person has family and friends paying attention to how you treat their loved ones. Whether they buy from you in the future is primarily impacted by how you act now.

Offer Deals Where You Can

People are worried about their finances. Even though it’s impossible to predict the economic impact of a pandemic, there is no denying there is one. Medical costs, people on unemployment and new protocols all add to the strain. Now is not the time to raise your prices. Do everything in your power to keep costs low as part of your marketing efforts.

Offer your customers deals, but be transparent. If a supplier raises your costs and you have to increase pricing, let your customers know what happened and why. Also, inform them of the steps you’re taking to reduce those costs and pass the savings on to your customers.

Find Creative Solutions

As life begins returning to normal after a crisis, expect that your business may not be the same as it was before. Think about how you’ll fill the gap for reduced revenue. Where can you cut expenses, for example?

Look at what other businesses have done to bring in revenue during this time. Some have added services, such as delivery or curbside pickup. As life returns to a new normal, continuing these services may mean the difference between success and failure for companies. Pay attention to what makes your target audience feel secure and confident in parting with their hard-earned dollars.

Stay True to Who You Are

Even though you might change the products you sell, the services you offer and your procedures, stick to the core of who you are as a brand. Link back to your mission statement as you implement new standards. There may be times during a potential recession when you feel a bit desperate. Never let emotions drive your choices for your employees or your customers. You will get past this hurdle as you’ve made your way through so many others. The country will persevere and rebound given time.

Lexie is a digital nomad and UX designer. She enjoys hiking with her goldendoodle and creating new cookie recipes. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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