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When calamity strikes, how should your brand react?


It’s been tough the last few months. On an emotional level, marketing managers are drained, stressed and probably a little scared of the possibility of impending doom. Yet, on a business level, what should we be doing for our brands to be prepared for when things turn around? How do we not get stuck in “crisis” mode, but instead be prepared to move to the next stage more effectively? Planning – and courage – are key.

Today’s strategy for marketers is “agility” and their ability to adapt their messaging based on a three-second digital summary report. Marketers can adjust strategies immediately when response drops or other negative factors are involved. Although many companies have a defined brand in place with a defined marketing strategy, the need can arise to adjust messaging – sometimes beyond the brand’s control.

But what about an unforeseen and unpredictable calamity? Whoever could have planned for a pandemic? And yet, as marketing professionals, we realize that although our short-term goal is to truly try and help our customers and our employees, we also need to be thinking about longer-term strategies. It’s essential to carefully define your brand’s unique value during this crisis, and target your markets with the proper frequency.

Consider these vital tips:

1) Never Exploit a Crisis
• Communicate in response to the crisis as it pertains to your industry or closures.
• Keep a spirit of empathy and hope.
• Keep people informed but avoid drama.

2) Examine Current Marketing Campaigns
• Review any scheduled content launch dates that are approaching.
• Push timelines back on campaigns that will be lost in the chaos, or pause if not appropriate.
• Reposition campaigns to not conflict with current social issues (i.e. social distancing).
• Consider current shelter-in-place directives to discern if they conflict with your message.
• Exchange current visuals if they detract from what’s reflecting day-to-day current life (i.e. crowds gathering).

3) Keep the tone light and upbeat, without seeming oblivious
• Show your culture withstanding the crisis and your employees making the best of a bad situation.
• Don’t omit emotion in your communications. Positivity and warmth can go a long way.
• Create campaigns that evoke inspiration, motivation and a feeling of collective humanity—along with marketing that includes timely and helpful content.

Marketing during a crisis, such as a pandemic, still provides an opportunity. This does not mean a series of knee-jerk, no strategy communications but more subtle, long-term thought-out efforts. Brands and marketers understand that maybe now is not the time for huge advertising budgets or messages that may lack sensitivity. Rather, it’s a time to first define who you are as people, then next who you are as a brand, while also keeping front-of-mind for your audience with a positive feeling even though the climate may not be ideal.

SMM wishes everyone good health and safety through this difficult time.

For more insights and ideas on how to move your brand or business forward for greater visibility, contact SMM Advertising.

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