22 April 2020

Rapid response with a purpose

“Necessity is the mother of invention” – Albert Einstein

It’s no surprise that in this time of crisis many brands are re-evaluating their next steps. For many, the conversation is on how they can hold out until this passes, but what about the interim? While the norm has disappeared for many brands, their audiences have not. Both are having to undergo substantial reimagining to meet the challenges of today’s reality, making innovation the tool of the hour.

So how do we respond with purpose in a crisis?

  • What does your audience need – With the shift in lifestyle, has come a shift in needs, and difficulties in bridging the delivery gap between that new need and the past. If there was ever a time to plug into what your consumers are saying, it’s now. The strategies pre-pandemic are exactly that – they won’t address the evolving needs born from this new environment so adaptability and responsiveness is key.
  • What can you do – How can your brand help address consumer needs in a way that is authentic to your niche? Staying organic is important and helps lend to your authority on the topic. Even if you don’t have all the answers, be true to who you are and adapt in ways that are fitting to your brand. Nike are a brilliant example of this, making sure that their ‘Play Inside’ campaign is authentic by delivering on ways to do that with the Living Room Cup; a digital workout series competing against athletes.
  • Is your offering necessary, sensitive and practical The emphasis is on ‘offering’ – now is the time for philanthropy where possible. Whatever your idea, it needs to be of service to the greater good and it needs to work from the get-go. Whether you are thriving or struggling under the current economic climate, people will remember the legacy your brand presents when put under pressure. Your actions and inactions will decide if your brand’s reliable and socially responsible or opportunistic and fickle.

The brands getting the tone right are those that show a united front and are able to try to re-establish some level of conscientious convenience or normality.

A brand thriving with purpose

3M is a key manufacturer of vital medical equipment required for COVID-19 prevention and treatment, from face masks to ventilators. Naturally that’s meant the demand for their products has far exceeded that of its normal capabilities and has led to shortages. Rising to the challenge, they partnered with Ford and Cummins to upskill their currently stalled factories to help meet demand. That, along with prioritising health care orders, providing a price gouging reporting system and focusing the resource they do have on products that will help during this crisis, has made them a recognisable force for good over profit during these times.

Repurposing key functionality for a new cause

Open Table, a restaurant booking vehicle, has all but ground to a halt given the worldwide lockdowns taking place. However, they’ve found a way to repurpose their tech to still be of service. They have been working in partnership with grocery stores in Los Angeles & San Francisco to reserve shopping times that will reduce long queues, overcrowding and help maintain social distancing when food shopping.

Thinking ahead

The Faroe Islands  has a unique take on encouraging tourists to keep them front of mind when we are free to travel again. They have created a remote tourism tool which allows users to explore the islands through the eyes of a local and actually control the movements of the local in real time. They are planning ahead for when tourism experiences an inevitable boom and offering something free in the interim to peak interest and offer travel adventures from home.

Now more than ever, consumers want to see the humanity behind the brand and they want it to be tangible and reliable, anything else is a distraction they don’t have the head space to indulge.

The push into isolation has left us with the urge to do the exact opposite – form communities to hold close what’s important and keep the hysteria at bay. Within these communities, brands have an opportunity to embody the ethics that sit in their taglines in a way that will leave a sincere lasting impression in a period of need because after all, we’re in this together.

So now is the time to ask yourself, is your brand a part of the solution or the noise?