Wondering how to protect your brand from the impact of this global pandemic? Take a thorough look at your all-round activity during the crisis and figure out how likely you are in making it through this storm. Brand management in these difficult times can make or break your business. In this piece, we will be talking about the ABCs of brand management during a crisis situation.
Crises often bring about change in consumers’ buying behavior, needs, and parameters of favourability for a brand. Every action you make will be judged and criticized. Hence, it is more important to assess the impact of your action or communication on your target audience.
Think of the situation like a PR crisis. Now, what would you do in such a situation? And what would you not do? The same applies to your brand activity and communication in the current crisis. Being silent will only make matters worse. What your audience and customers need from you are clarification and reassurance.
However, right now there is an added burden of financial problems. Going by the traditional business rules, cutting down on your marketing spend until normalcy returns would seem a viable option. But COVID-19 has established a global lifestyle that may not change, at least in the near future. So it is best to consider this a permanent shift in the market. Adapt your business model and mold your business management plans to function in the current times.
We will be looking at various important aspects of business management to take into account in order to survive the COVID-19 crisis.
IMPORTANT ASPECTS TO FOCUS ON FOR BRAND MANAGEMENT DURING COVID-19
Your customers are changing their behavior to adapt to this new situation. As mentioned earlier, their needs and criteria for choosing a particular brand changes. In times of health crisis, the crucial factor for brand loyalty is trust. Any other aspect of your brand will not help you connect with your customer during a pandemic as much as proving yourself trustworthy. However, it will come across as superficial if you limit it only to your communication and not execute it in your action.
Your ideal customer, before the crisis, would have pain points that may not exist in the crisis or post-crisis period. You need to learn how your customers think in the crisis period. What are their new pain points? How did the crisis change their buying behavior? Have they changed their decision-making process? What is their source of information?
Once you develop an understanding of your customers’ state in the crisis, you can change your business accordingly and brand management plan accordingly.
Try to be sensitive and empathetic to your customers whenever you can. Provide for them when they reach out to you. This could help you save your target audience from switching over to another brand that cares for them better.
2. Your Brand Management Strategy
Your brand is the promise that you make to your consumers. Before moving forward, let’s ask you a couple of questions. Where does your brand stand right now? What is your current situation? What is your brand management strategy? Is it good for you or not? How and what are your competitors doing differently? Identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT Analysis) – first step of brand management. This is the first and foremost thing you should be aware of. Conduct a brand audit and know your stand-point. Your brand audit should be able to identify the following things:
- Social media engagement and followers
- Brand mentions
- Rankings and organic traffic data
- Reviews across listings and social pages
- Content production
- Overall brand sentiment
- Overall site data
This data helps us gain meaningful insights that contributes to effective brand management.
The information you find through the audit can be cross-checked with keyword performance and content to see any repetitive patterns. Know what is negatively and positively impacting you. This will give you a picture of where you stand online. Tap into opportunities while inhibiting the threats from time to time and keep your business safe. If you do not have an online presence yet, start working on it now! It’s better late than never. The best method to express your expertise is through blogs. Visit 5 ways to make your blog more attractive to make your blog stand out.
You might think it’s wise to just keep the business running while brand values take a backseat for a while. But that is not true. A brand’s values need to be shown now more than ever so you will still be left with a loyal customer base in the future. People are going to look for empathetic and reliable sources, not money-making opportunists. Thus brand management is very important.
3. Make Necessary Changes
Make sure you evaluate every step you take. This could be a tough time for your company financially. You may have to choose to cut down on a variety of your expenditure to survive the period of change. But the current pandemic has an unprecedented uncertainty to it. So, you do not know how long you may need to ‘survive’ before you get to thrive again. This situation of “not knowing” makes it very important to take appropriate measures towards brand management and allocate our resources appropriately.
This is the mindset of your customers as well. People will not wait for your product or service to be back in stock or up and running. They will choose whatever is available. Customer loyalty is harder to attain in this crisis. Constantly monitor consumer behavior to know what people need and if you can offer it.
Changing situations often bring opportunities along with adversity. Look for any new gaps in the market that could be the driving force of your business. There might be new needs in the market that are not being catered to by anyone else. Be an early bird and catch that worm.
See how you can run your business by including new products or altering your existing products. You could also make a brand extension into new categories and that may work out better than the existing state of your business. Altering your business according to the situation is an important aspect of brand management.
If you are unwilling to venture into new waters then you could see this as a break and complete any pending work that can be done now. You could redesign your website, logo, or your brand and plan for the post-crisis period. Visit Converge for Change to have a look at a sample of website development services provided by Macro Webber.
If you do change your business model and introduce new services or products make sure you provide sufficient marketing for them to be noticed. Cutting back on marketing or ad spend here will not make much sense if you wish to make most of the newfound opportunity, work on your brand management plans. Digital marketing is a small investment with high returns.
4. Be Present
The last thing your customer wants from you when they knock on your door is – you not opening it. It is more harmful to you than them. If you want people to know that you are offering your products and services during this time you need to let them know. Make sure you are active on your key communication channels. Replying to your existing and potential customers is a very important and crucial part of brand management.
People tend to spend more time online, being active on various social media platforms. Make sure you are active on your primary social media channels. It takes very little time for customers to switch over to other brands in times of crisis. So, it is useful to let them know that you have not slacked off when they need you. This should be a integral part of your brand management strategy.
Even if you have very little to offer during the crisis, talk about the offer. Whatever contribution you are making, talk about it. Do not boast but do not let it fade into the background. You could strengthen the content on your website. Post regularly on relevant topics and grow a reader base.
Most people are likely spending most of their time on social media, reading, or playing online or streaming on OTT (Over-The-Top) platforms like Netflix, Hotstar, Hulu, etc. This is your chance to attract new audiences and make them come back. If you just ride the wave of pandemic without thinking of the long term scenario of your business then you may lose the audience when the crisis ends.
If your business has good opportunities in the crisis period, try to not come out as opportunistic. Craft your marketing message creatively to ensure that it is received positively. A slight mistake in your communication can make you distasteful for your audience. Evaluate your messages multiple times to avoid being perceived as merely self-promoting.
5. Flexible Brand Management Planning
Always be open to a change of strategy and plans as these are highly unstable situations bringing new challenges every now and then. Keep a keen eye open for any changing trends and behavior so you can accommodate your business strategy in the coming situation. Avoid making long term plans of actions and keep them short and open to change. Instead of planning for a time span, plan for multiple scenarios. This will help you quickly adapt to changing situations while minimizing the damage to your business. To learn more about brand management click here.
Make the most of the internet. If you do not have your business online, you are losing out on major opportunities. You need not necessarily have an e-commerce website or have all of your business running online. Just being present online will also do. Sketch out a content strategy for your online channels. Then, as you figure out where things are working out for you, put your efforts accordingly. With most people spending high amounts of time on the internet you know where to reach for your potential customers. Online medium can make brand management tedious but it has a high ROI and worth the effort.
Start building your online presence – Best method of increasing brand awareness and a great platform for brand management. Set up your website, make a few social media profiles that are right for your business. Then work on building an audience for these. Make the most of your online presence by ensuring your actions have the desired impact. You could do all of these by yourself but it can get a little overwhelming. How about we do the hard work for you and you just enjoy the benefits?