Staying Relevant by Staying True

As we navigate the uncharted waters we have been abruptly thrown into, it can be hard to determine how best to communicate to your customers, while staying true to the brand promise you built. Brands can struggle with showing empathy while staying relevant as new developments unfold. This can be a difficult task, and if not done correctly, could leave a lasting negative impact on your loyal customer base. So how do you know what to do and where to get started?
1. Develop your response. Assemble the right team to assess the situation and develop not only the approach you will take, but what you will say to your customers and how. Be sure your message is transparent, authentic and, most importantly, direct. Your approach should rely heavily on your brand identity while taking into consideration your customers’ preferred communication method. For instance, Coca-Cola launched a campaign in Times Square encouraging everyone that staying apart right now is the best way to stay united. A brand that was built on celebrating togetherness and love developed a campaign that stayed true to its roots in its messaging, while leveraging one of the biggest stages in the world to communicate it. Something that their customer base is used to.
2. Go big or go home. It is important to quickly and succinctly communicate with your customer base. Give nod to the circumstances at hand and how you intend to proceed. This sets the tone, so be sure to rely on your brand promises. If you veer too far, customers will feel it and could potentially be turned off to your approach. We are seeing some big brands have great success doing just this. For instance, Nike has adjusted their message right out of the gate to address their base. They are encouraging athletes around the world to play inside. It still feels like Nike because they are focused on pushing athletes to follow their dreams and train, but in a way that reflects the crisis around them. As things evolve, so too will their message, but they adjusted right away and stayed true to who they are to the world as a brand.
3. Don’t linger. Know when it is time to shift gears with your messaging and approach. Brands need to constantly evolve during crises to ensure they are keeping momentum with new developments and addressing how and what they will do as a result. For instance, in the COVID-19 crisis, it is important to address what you are doing to encourage social distancing or how it is affecting your customers now, but soon, it will be important to evolve your messaging and approach. You will need to think beyond today, working to develop messages and appropriate channels to communicate developments for the next two weeks, month, three months, etc. For instance, last week Airbnb focused on communicating the details around their cancellation policies for customers who were concerned about upcoming or current travel. However, over recent days, they shifted their narrative to communicate how they are working to leverage their platform to help those on the front lines. They will be providing housing for first responders. This is a good example of a brand that is thinking ahead, while also staying true to its brand promises.       
At akhia communications we focus on working with our clients to develop strategies that make sense, ones that have positive impacts for the business long after the crises are over. These are some key things to keep in mind as you navigate COVID-19, but it’s important to realize that no two crises are alike and that each should be handled in a customized way. We can help work through appropriate approaches and accompanying messaging now. Contact us to work through a plan today.