Brand communication during a pandemic. Time for storydoing

16/04/20

Does the brand matter in a pandemic?

The pandemic crisis took all of us by surprise and has changed our everyday reality. It challenged the current operating models carefully prepared plans of all market players, including of course, the marketers. 

Many of us ask ourselves the question whether, in this new situation, brands are important to consumers? How should they communicate and, finally, how can they prepare for the time after the pandemic which – as we all hope – will finally come?

How can you build your brand in times of coronavirus?

For companies, the coming months will be the time of intense work with and on the brand, verifying:

  • the sense and credibility of its mission, which should also define the non-commercial purpose of its existence
  • the level of empathy; the ability to hear the voice of the consumers and understand their expectations
  • flexibility; he readiness and the ability to introduce changes 

Is it time to change your plans?

Today, the majority of brands abandon mutual competition and join forces in the common fight against the threat to our health, undertaking many useful initiatives. This is not a lock-down for brands, but a time when their narratives and declared values (storytelling) may change into real customer experience and actual support (storydoing or even storygiving). 

Current events may become a reason for brands to change their positioning concept, communication strategy or even their business model.

Will we still need brands?

Brands are and will be a tool to achieve business goals. However, to be efficient, they must not only offer an excellent product, satisfying consumer needs, but must also keep up with the cultural narrative, which will enable an engaging dialogue with their customers and, as a result, build relationships and loyalty to the brand.  

As the context in which we live changes, as we expect changes in the area of values, we can assume that brands will need an ‘new opening’ in the immediate future in order to accompany their consumers in building the ‘new normality’.

How should brands communicate?

For companies and brands, it is a test whether their Brand Purpose is real and how much it is worth.

For brands that have not yet defined it – it is proof that it is worth doing.

Current cultural narratives

‘Only live essential and valuable things should survive’ 

‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’

‘Together, we can do more – even if we are physically separated’

Important values

  • safety
  • truth
  • empathy
  • community
  • responsibility 
  • usefulness
  • mindfulness
A ‘new empowerment’ is born – a new understanding of what the impact on the reality means

Branding

Stage 1. Building suppoert and community

Real help – strengthening brand values through storytelling/storygiving; the brand shares what people need (the return on investment will come later) – all forms of support for medical services, but also offering knowledge, inspiration, entertainment and a sense of pride and hope.

Stage 2. Strengthening values and bonds

Crisis as an opportunity for renewal, revival, return to ‘what is important’; revision of the positioning strategy based on new brand values that support their consumers in building the ‘new normality’.

COVID-19: Challenges related to brand communication

In episode 12 from the series "Guest of prof. Witold Orłowski", the professor talks with Marta Marczak about the challenges of brand communication during the COVID 19 pandemic

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Marta Marczak

Marta Marczak

Director, PwC Poland

Tel: +48 519 50 7452

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