Survival means many things during these unprecedented and challenging times. Are our relatives safe from the outbreak of Covid-19? How can we see those we love and check they are ‘OK’? Where can we get our food and supplies from, without spreading the virus? How are health systems coping? What will happen to the economy? The list is endless. Let’s pray the pandemic isn’t.
And I believe it is vital to discuss business survival alongside health, wellbeing, food supplies and hospitals. After all, business survival in today’s world is critical to the majority’s livelihoods. In fact, Gartner, the leading research and advisory company serving over 15,000 organizations globally, says brands themselves will play a pivotal role in easing concerns and people’s sense of isolation during this worldwide crisis.
Large corporations are heroically helping in practical ways against the virus, such as donating or funding medical supplies for those on the frontline, and promoting their efforts via social media. Survival for businesses can be achieved through empathy, adaptation to demonstrate new relevance in unchartered territory and stepping-up to the challenge of fulfilling their brand values and purpose. Some excellent examples of this in recent weeks include LEON Restaurants, Dyson, London’s ExCeL Centre and one of our clients of whom we are extremely proud, Nuffield Health.
50% of our meals are eaten while at work or school. And the recent closure of restaurants has forced supermarkets to operate at 130% capacity. These supermarkets are struggling under the demand which was, only a few weeks ago, supplemented by sandwich outlets, restaurants, cafes and school meals. Not to mention the additional pressures of stockpiling. So, LEON is turning its 65 UK restaurants into shops, selling meals via click-and-collect and delivery. Meals will be placed in ready meal-type plastic pouches to be heated, stored or frozen at home. A tremendous example of re-purposing a brand’s capabilities, at a point where a restaurant loses all relevance, to re-attain 100% relevance by helping feed the nation, and importantly too, keep their staff in employment.
Next up, Dyson – the Vacuum cleaner manufacturer who responded to the Government’s recent call for help in fighting the pandemic and worked tirelessly, 24/7, to develop ventilators for the NHS and patients in hospitals. ITV News reported they are actually including parts from their vacuum cleaners in the ventilator prototypes and a spokesperson for the company confirmed it is a highly complex task being delivered in an extremely challenging timeframe. This may well elevate the brand from ‘premium household goods supplier’ to ‘hero’ in record time. Such an effort deserves to be recognized and celebrated.
And then there is the London ExCeL centre, converted from event space to temporary hospital to house unfortunate coronavirus patients. With over 87,000 square metres of space and capacity for 68,000 visitors, the interim NHS Nightingale hospital at the ExCeL will provide approximately 4,000 beds for patients during the crisis.
My last example of a brand stepping up is our very own client, Nuffield Health. Of course we are always proud to work with the healthcare charity, but now this pride is further elevated. Nuffield Health is making all of its hospitals across England available to NHS trusts to provide mandatory support during the outbreak and supplying the NHS with its clinicians, support services and health equipment such as ventilators. Furthermore, the charity is reviewing the many ways its gym and fitness centre workforce can help the fight too. A courageous act in a dire time.
As an independent marketing agency, we (as with the majority, I am sure) do not necessarily have the means, specialism nor infrastructure to offer such responses to this disaster as Dyson, Leon, London’s ExCeL and Nuffield Health. But what we do have in our industry, and in our armoury, is the power of communication. And this shouldn’t be underestimated. Indeed, LAW Creative is open, operating all hours and here for anyone who needs strong communications now more than ever.
Communication needed more than ever before
According to Gartner, key learnings should be taken from China. As the first-hit region with Covid-19, time spent online by all demographics increased almost immediately by 20% with social networking becoming ever-more popular, and surges in time spent mobile gaming (up 44% between January and February 2020), watching short videos online (up 14%), and reading news and searching other information (up 14%). During such crises in today’s connected world, people are turning to social media for guidance and comfort. And together with trusted brands, look to their favourite content creators to keep them informed, entertained and comforted.
On Instagram, the #coronavirus has amassed more than 5.8 million mentions and is now the second most used hashtag of 2020, generating a relevant tweet every 42 milliseconds. As Gartner stated: We cannot underestimate the impact and importance of messages of support and solidarity during these times. And I believe that we in marketing and communications have the skill, ability and responsibility to reach audiences and deliver positive and useful messages perfectly. Now is not the time for brands to stay silent. It is a time to consider how we can all help, reassess our purpose and comfort the many.
Our advice on this is fairly straightforward. Consider how your brand could be leveraged to support people during this developing situation. We cannot all be such heroes as the aforementioned brands above, but we can all play a part. At 8pm on Thursday 26th March, and on the following Thursday, people throughout the UK opened their front windows and doors to clap and congratulate our NHS. And although we are not those heroes on the frontlines saving lives, don’t you think that such an act of solidarity and sheer vocal gratitude, a positive form of communication, will have boosted morale for the NHS and comforted the nation? This is a simple example where we all acted as brand ambassadors for the country and used our collective powers of communication to unify.
Once an adapted brand purpose is in place, the next step is to connect with your audience in a relevant and empathetic way, altering your message and tone of voice to fit the situation.
Comfort, entertain, inform
For us at LAW Creative, we will be helping where we can, via our powers of communication. We will deliver social content to our followers, across three different categories. The first being to bring ‘cheer and comfort’. Marketing is an industry built around people. By delivering reassuring messages founded on truth and told in a unique way, content will be shared and have a positive impact on many. The second, to ‘entertain people’. Bored and isolated consumers need to keep their minds and bodies active, and lighthearted distractions are always welcomed. After all, isn’t laughter the best medicine? Our last category is to ‘inform’. There is a lot of incorrect and often dangerous information published every day, and in times such as these avoiding panic and providing correct content is invaluable. Of course, as a marketing agency, it is not our place to publish medical and directional advice, but, where we can, offer an educated viewpoint, maybe a fresh slant on a day’s events and share guidance in ways to resonate with as many people as possible. Just imagine, if we can help just one person view things from a different perspective and guide them to take the decision to self-isolate for example, then we too are helping. All brands can.
Stay tuned to LAW Creative as we continue our mission to inform, comfort and entertain during this difficult time. Please share where you can, and together we can help make a difference.
For any advice on repurposing a brand or communicating with an empathetic and relevant message and tone during Covid-19 please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.