A massive crisis is taking place all over the world—and brand awareness has been suffering as a result.
Businesses have found ways to rise above the situation to ensure their reputation isn’t badly impacted either—but there is still room for improvement.
We look at the major ways that businesses can revise their crisis management to improve brand awareness.
The importance of communication in brand awareness cannot be overlooked—when a global crisis is brewing, it needs to be prioritized.
During the current pandemic, a number of brands have demonstrated a thorough understanding of how and when to communicate with their staff, customers, and the community using Coronavirus awareness templates.
The time to communicate is now—using all the channels available to you and which are being used by your stakeholders to receive information.
Businesses need to keep in mind that almost everyone is completely online right now—they’re on social media more than ever before.
Send out your messaging not only on the channels you usually employ but on as many as possible—even if it means revitalizing previously discarded platforms.
Building a social media plan that puts communication first—over and above awareness and sales—will help companies create a better image for themselves online.
Use email marketing to share regular updates with your stakeholders—enough time has now passed since the start of the isolation period that people are once again accessing their emails.
At the start of the quarantine, most people were avoiding their emails because they were crammed with messages from everyone they had ever subscribed to.
As this is no longer a problem, sending regular updates about the way your business is functioning during the crisis is essential.
Moving to Digital
People are avoiding coming into contact with physical objects—and other people—as much as possible. The best way to navigate such a situation is to adopt a digital-first mindset.
We’ve already mentioned how communicating online is the key to brand awareness during a crisis—but there are other ways to use the digital sphere.
Organizations around the world—from political parties to small businesses—managed to start working remotely thus ensuring business continuity.
A number of businesses have had to shut down their brick and mortar stores—personal services and restaurants, in particular.
While these businesses could have shut down completely, many have found ways to use the online sphere to continue generating revenue.
Moving into an eCommerce model has meant many businesses have continued to survive in the current crisis.
Restaurants have been able to tie up with packaging and delivery services so that customers can buy items via apps or order online and pick up food curbside.
A number of businesses have even allocated budgets to advertising their new social distancing delivery service—demonstrating how seriously they were taking the new rules.
Before this crisis began, businesses had numerous avenues to spread brand awareness. But just because the digital route has become the primary channel for reaching audiences now doesn’t mean that it is in any way limited.
The way that some businesses—particularly startups—have shown up for their communities during this crisis is a model that brands the world over should look to emulate.
A number of startups have taken it upon themselves to build and distribute medical equipment, hire laid off staff from different industries, offering telehealth services, and more.
Individuals have also stepped up to the plate to help their communities by creating protective gear with 3D printers and sewing masks.
Coming to the community’s aid doesn’t always have to mean building, or making, something for people to use—businesses can also spread knowledge to help people around them.
Online tutorials are a great way to stay connected with customers and spread awareness about your brand. Using the digital sphere, you can reach broader audiences than you would in your local community.
Businesses are also sharing ways for people to keep busy and entertained at home since families, in particular, are struggling in the current environment.
Many organizations are creating printable scavenger hunts, recipes, online courses, and free resources to keep people engaged.
Sharing safety tips when leaving the home for an emergency, or how to detect the symptoms of the virus helps the community to stay safe.
Discussing ways to keep one’s mental health on track in isolation is also necessary—these are extraordinary circumstances and messaging should reflect the situation.
Brands have also taken to posting about where to look for reliable sources for information, as well as the most updated data on their social feeds.
All this helps organizations reach people who are finding the deluge of negative news on social media overwhelming.
Stepping in to advise newer businesses or struggling organizations about models that could work for them is also a great way to build up the community.
Not only do these elements help the people around you but it also stands the business in good stead—portraying the brand as a thought leader who isn’t just interested in sales.
Pivoting Business Models
The way businesses moved into eCommerce models of revenue generation shows a degree of ingenuity that has massively helped communities as a whole stay afloat.
But not all affected businesses have the wherewithal or opportunity to sell items via delivery—personal services, for instance, can’t emulate this model.
Salon, gym, and spa services can’t be administered without in-person contact—which would require people to break social distancing rules.
However, there are some methods these kinds of businesses can adopt to ensure that revenue continues to flow in.
These businesses have created redeemable vouchers for their services and products—they can be purchased online and redeemed when businesses open again.
Pre-bookings are another way that these companies are staying afloat.
Another successful model has been creating online subscription services—alongside free tutorials for workouts and beauty services, businesses are also sharing paid versions that are more intensive.
Then there are the larger industries that have successfully managed to rejig their machinery to create necessary protective products—as the products they were manufacturing are not a priority in the current environment.
Pivoting to a new business model can be challenging but with some creativity, you can not only ensure your business continues to generate revenue but that you earn more brand awareness.
Before creating any content to send out into the digital sphere, brands need to understand what kind of content people want right now.
Brands have been pretty good with regard to the kind of content they’ve been sharing since this pandemic hit, but it’s a situation that needs constant evaluation.
People want to be informed about the virus and the direct threat to them. They also want to know how they can enjoy a semblance of their normal lives while still social distancing.
There are also a large number of people who are fatigued by the current situation—they want a break from the relentless statistics and news.
Brands and their social media managers need to take all this into account when they design content—they need to be informative but avoid over-saturating feeds with crisis-related posts.
Share a few posts that are light-hearted—a meme or joke about social distancing and life in quarantine wouldn’t go amiss.
Most organizations have steadfastly avoided being mean-spirited about the situation—even if that is their usual brand tone on social media.
More importantly, brands have recognized that being sales-forward is not a good look now—while you can share posts about discounts and coupons, trying to capitalize on the current situation by hiking up prices or reselling essential items is very bad for business.
Employees are a business resource, as necessary to the survival of a company as any other resource. But when a crisis hits, human resources are often the first to be impacted.
The novel Coronavirus pandemic led to the immediate shutdown of several businesses—which resulted in a decrease in revenues.
Many of these companies had the knee-jerk reaction of letting their staff go—while others furloughed their staff. These employees were given little notice and no pay.
There were a few businesses who kept their staff on the payroll—or decreased their pay by a small percentage—but these often became the exceptions.
When governments across the world announced funds and resources for businesses suffering from revenue shortages, the organizations that let their staff go were taken to task on social media.
Though these businesses managed to save some monetary resources, they also generated the kind of negative brand awareness that companies try to avoid.
And with every piece of news amplified a thousand-fold on social media, there is nowhere for these businesses to hide.
What these organizations failed to consider was that their primary customers were always their employees—by hanging them out to dry, they hurt their own reputation in ways that could be unrecoverable.
Future Crisis Planning
Most businesses—no matter what their size—have a crisis plan in place. But if this pandemic has demonstrated anything, it is that there is no such thing as being too ready.
To prepare for a future crisis, businesses need to start planning now—so the next time something like this happens, they will have the wherewithal to maintain their brand awareness.
This means preparing for virtual workplaces, packaging, and delivery of goods to customers, new revenue sources, and how to keep employees on the payroll when revenues dwindle.
How can businesses pivot their strategy during a crisis so that they can continue to keep staff employed and bring in revenue?
Updating the current crisis communication plan to focus on digital platforms is another key area.
Technology can bring people together so companies need to start looking at what kind of software they can use to improve their ability to work during a crisis.
Brand awareness can suffer during a crisis—there are far too many examples from the current pandemic to display that.
But if businesses can take a few key steps—communicating regularly, helping their communities, their employees, and creating relevant content—they can spread a positive message about their brand.
About the Author: Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic maker and design platform. Ronita regularly writes about design, content marketing, small businesses, pop culture, and representation. Twitter: @Venngage